Recently, I had the opportunity to visit my school’s career center on a class trip. I had, of course, been to the career center before, but only for one-on-one meetings with specific aims. Because I was visiting with a class of first year students as their writing mentor, I expected a generic presentation on how they can begin to plan for their futures, such as taking the first steps in applying for an internship or participating in summer programs that will give them an advantage in a job search or graduate school application process. When the career center staff member leading our session told us what we would be doing that morning, I was taken aback: we would be making “vision boards.”
Initially, I scoffed at the idea. The concept of a vision board was something that I had only ever seen in movies about vapid characters, none of whom seemed to have any intention of looking for graduate school programs or forging a bold career path. As each person in our career center session was sent to page through magazines and pick a patterned cardboard square to use for a background, I began to think about the other tasks that I could be accomplishing during the next hour. Why was I wasting my time cutting out pictures and inspirational phrases from magazines when I could be doing practice problems for my GMAT or finishing up a paper for another class?
To my surprise, as our session went on, I began to understand the value of creating a vision board. By the time I had completed my board and it had been framed, I felt calm and clear. However, it also led me to question why I had put certain pictures on my board. Looking at the image of the beautiful Irish countryside that I had positioned in the center of my board made me realize that international travel was one of my future goals. It also inspired me to research international entry-level jobs in my field of study. I could also point to different pictures and phrases on my board that confirmed my love for the fashion and beauty industries, which reassured me of my ideal career path.
Having my vision board displayed prominently in my room reminds me of my goals every day. When I am struggling with a difficult paper or fretting over my packed calendar, the board gives me a visual reminder of the place I am working toward. The career center staff member who led our session told us that she creates a vision board every season. This is a path I now also plan to take.
Winter break gives us much needed rest and relaxation, and presents the opportunity to think about our futures without the added pressure of classes. Taking an hour or two to create your own vision board can help to make your thought process clearer, and might even reveal an unexpected academic or career passion. While conventional methods of planning for the next semester or for life after college are incredibly important and useful, adding a vision board to the mix can inspire you in ways that you did not see coming.
Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.