By Katie Wooliver
At four years old, the choice was settled: I would become a professional basketball player. A few months later, however, and I had come to my senses and rationalized a more attainable career goal - the front desk girl for the pool. After a brief conviction to one day be Sporty Spice of the Spice girls, I decided I wanted to be a doctor (much to the relief of my parents). This time, the vision stuck. Fueled by a love of math and science and the desire to help others, I worked toward my goal. When I entered college at Northwestern, I elected to study Biomedical Engineering, which fulfilled my math and science requirements, and hopefully would give me an edge over other medical school applicants. Although school was often challenging, I pushed myself to stick with it and grind it out –with each passing year, I was getting closer and closer to my childhood goal.
The beginning of my senior year, however, taught me the value of thinking outside and allowing myself to chart another course. A last minute pivot can be difficult, but keeping your passions at the forefront of your decision making will allow you to be confident in the choices you make.
I had organized my class schedule to complete the remaining pre-med courses and take the MCAT in the spring. I was set. Yet, something didn’t feel right. I began to have serious reservations about the path I had laid out for myself. When I spoke to my friends that were on the same course as me, they were all gung ho about applying to medical school and committing the next four years to school, a few more years to residency, and topping it off with a couple years for a specialty. At one point in life, being a doctor was all I saw myself doing, but for the first time since grade school I was questioning my dream.
For a few weeks I wrestled with this in my mind. Why was I feeling this way now? What would my parents and peers think if I changed my mind in the eleventh hour? What would I do with my life if I did not become a doctor? I know now that these questions are common for seniors preparing to leave college and enter the real world. But at the time, these questions really daunted me. For so many years I had a one-track mind about what I would do with my future. I hadn’t explored anything else. I think at the core, it was the fact that I didn’t really know what else was out there for me that made me nervous about throwing myself full force into medical school. I needed to start exploring.
It was a difficult decision to steer away from the goal to become a doctor, but ultimately the right path for me became clear when I found DaVita. My work on integrated care with DaVita allows me to fulfill my childhood passion of providing care to others while providing me the opportunity to explore healthcare from another angle and exercise my talents in a way I hadn’t thought of before. I learned that when I pushed myself to look beyond, my passion still lied with healthcare, but my end goal took a different shape.
It is okay to change course, but keep your passion as your North Star.
As you think about making the transition from college to the real world, keep your mind open to the possibilities that are out there, but stay true to what drives you. At the end of the day, if you enter a field you are passionate about, your work will be stronger, your days will be more fulfilling, and ‘adulting’ will be better than you ever imagined.
Katie is an Analyst on the Pioneer Team at DaVita, an operations and innovation team that operates similar to an internal consultancy. Katie earned her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Class of 2015.