What do you want to be when you grow up?

Having done orientations all summer, I frequently asked incoming students why they chose their specific major.  Although some responses included passions, many people spoke in empty buzzwords.  Even worse, Exploration majors were often ashamed of admitting their decision, or in their minds, indecision.  But what is so shameful about recognizing that college, and your first year specifically, is a time to do exactly that…explore?  I’ve found that regarding choosing a major, students are preoccupied with work: type of work, where to work, who to work for, compensation for work, etc.; the last is most common.  But, I’d like to refer back to the more childlike question we should be asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor.  My classes and extracurriculars reflected this desire.  I didn’t always enjoy what I was doing, but I was sure I wanted to be a doctor…or at least I thought I did.  Truth is, I rather arbitrarily chose ‘doctor’ when I was really young, and adults and peers latched on to the idea because it was “impressive.”  So, I went with it, and not many people questioned the ‘why’ of my decision because they were too fixed on the occupation’s status, and, to be honest, so was I.

By the end of high school, when it was time to apply to college, I was beginning to question my doctor dreams.  However, I was too scared to admit this, to both myself and others, so I quietly picked Public Health as my major and chose Ohio State (THE Ohio State??).  Pretty early on I questioned my motivations for majoring in Public Health.  I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore, now that I had a better understanding of what it meant to be a doctor.  I thought maybe I could salvage the major and do health policy, but this led me to my second realization: I was choosing majors based on occupations that had fixed education paths (i.e. undergrad + med school + residency = doctor).  I needed to get out of this headspace in order to figure out what it was that I wanted to do, or, more importantly, who I wanted to be.

I took the time to explore academically my second semester with a GE in the Geography department (Geography 3701 – Making of the Modern World for those that are curious) because someone I looked up to told me it completely changed the way she saw the world.  I wanted that feeling.  That is what I wanted to get out of college, so I chased that feeling.  I got that and so much more when I changed my major to Geography at the end of second semester.

I know that not everyone desires to be a geographer.  We need doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but we need artists, teachers, and academics, too.  As long as you think of your major like I think of geography, you’re off to a good start.  Don’t think of your major as what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, but rather how you will be doing it.  Four people could be passionate about environmental justice, for example, but one decides to be an environmental engineer, another an environmental policy analyst, the third a community organizer in an area greatly affected by climate change, and the last an artist whose work changes the way people feel about the environment.  Same cause, different strategies.

It took a lot of time for me to be comfortable with having a major with no set career path, but I don’t want to conceptualize the future in a fixed way.  I want to be, do, study, learn, explore, and create.  My dad always told me, “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s the dream.  That’s my goal.  That’s my future.

5 Ways to Prepare for the Career and Internship Fair

If you haven’t seen it advertised around campus, let me be the first to tell you that the Career and Internship Fair is happening, September 15 and 16 in the Ohio Union, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.! I can guess what some of you might be thinking:

“Summer just ended, I’ve been a college student for less than a month, and now you want me to start thinking about jobs and internships?!”

The answer is YES!

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It doesn’t have to be intimidating, and it’s fine if you only have experience from high school. Ohio State has a lot of opportunities to prepare you for the world of career and internship fairs.

1. Update* Your Résumé

*Or make one if you don’t have a résumé! Your résumé is the time to showcase your accomplishments and skills you will be bringing to the job. If you don’t know where to start, then Ohio State can help. The Writing Center and Career Counseling and Support Services have resources available online.

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Once you have updated it, don’t forget one of the most important steps: PRINT IT. It can be on normal printer paper, or if you want to be more professional you can use résumé paper. It’s less flimsy than normal copier paper and you can find some on the second floor of the Ohio Union in the Resource Room. Once you print out copies of your résumé, be sure to put them in something; don’t just let them hang around unprotected! That way, when you hand a potential employer your résumé, it’s presentable. A padfolio or even a clean, unmarked folder will work. This way you have somewhere to put pen and paper, in case you need to take notes, as well!

2. Prepare What You’re Going to Say

At some point during the fair you will be talking to professionals and you will want to make a good impression. This is where an “elevator speech” comes in. Basically it is a brief speech…imagine a short 20-30 second elevator ride conversation that lets the other person know more about you, your qualifications, and why you’re talking to them about their company. You can see a template here.

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Also, think about what you want to ask the professionals at the career fair. What do you want to know about their company, and what they could offer you? If you aren’t sure what you would say, look through this list from Buckeye Careers, Career Counseling and Support Services can help, and if you’re free next Tuesday, September 8th in the evening try going to the Making the Most Out of a Career Fair Workshop. Look through the list of employers attending and do some research on ones that sound interesting to you. That way, you can ask specific–as opposed to general–questions.

3. Pick Out Your Outfit

You are going to want to look professional. Here are a couple suggestions from Buckeye Careers. When in doubt, have someone look over your outfit. Don’t wait until the last minute to do this!

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And let’s all remember that you’re not fully dressed without a smile! Let’s be honest: who wants to work with someone who looks like they hate life? Even just looking interested can help your first impression.

4. Breathe

This career fair isn’t going to determine the rest of your life. Think of it as a way to get comfortable in a professional environment. You are going to want an internship or job eventually and being familiar with the process makes a difference.

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Just breathe and remember that everyone had to start somewhere.

5. Follow up

Did you connect with an employer at the job fair? Write the representative you spoke with a thank you note! Buckeye Careers has some follow-up suggestions here.

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If going to the career fair made you confused about what you want to do with your degree or how to get from point A to point B, don’t worry, there are people to help with that! Buckeye OnPace is an online module that helps you figure out what careers fit with your interests, you can meet with Career Counseling and Support Services, or can talk to your advisor about the resources available in your major. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!