As important as it is for you as a college student to follow your passions, you first and foremost must find your passion. As I shared in the first post of this series, I had a hard time discovering what it was I was really interested in, and then applying that to my major choice. I think a lot of students get stuck choosing a career path based on what their parents are urging them to do, rather than discovering what they’re interested in themselves. Some students, especially with the recent decrease in available jobs, chose majors solely based on the potential salary or job security.
Granted, I’m still just a student (for 7 more months, at least), but I believe it’s so incredibly important for students to find a field that they’re truly passionate about, and to continue to pursue that career path, regardless of how unattainable it might seem. We’ve all heard it a countless number of times, but I think there is so much truth to the idea that you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing something you truly love.
The hard part for me was actually finding that one thing that I’m passionate about. Just recently, I became interested in photography, specifically wedding photography. I’ve spent the last six months or so getting as much experience with wedding photography as possible. This usually means volunteering countless hours to assisting professionals for free (more about this in the next post), but I am so relieved to have finally found something that I’m truly excited about and motivated to pursue.
What really helped me discover my interest in photography, was tuning into my everyday life, specifically how I was spending my free time. I became absolutely obsessed with Pinterest and spent countless hours swooning over dreamy images of exquisite brides and beautiful weddings. There were a handful of wedding photographers who I followed, and was constantly gawking over their photos every free minute I had. It wasn’t until I was gifted a pretty new Canon, that I realized this might really be something to pursue. I immediately enrolled in a photo class, contacted wedding photographers in the area, and began learning all that I could about the industry.
For those of you who are still struggling to discover your passion, don’t be discouraged, and trust that if you just stay true to yourself, it will all fall into place.
As students, we all know that our lack of budget and time doesn’t exactly add up to being a whiz in the kitchen, but that doesn’t have to mean greasy fast food for every meal. My roommates and I love to cook, and have perfected a handful of meal ideas that are both budget friendly and time efficient.
-Strawberries and Cream waffles: Begin by toasting a frozen waffle. I like Kashi multigrain waffles- they’re delicious and healthier than the alternative! Spread low fat cream cheese on the waffle and top with slices of fresh strawberries. Such a delicious combination that tastes so indulgent and will fuel you for your long day of classes!
-Three-ingredient Banana Pancakes: Mash 1 banana in a bowl. Add 2 eggs and ½ cup of instant oats. Mix together, pour, and flip! And there you have it- delicious, fluffy pancakes in less than 10 minutes time.
-Pesto Pizza: This is definitely a favorite amongst my roommates and I. Start with a whole-wheat wrap and spread with a thin layer of pesto (you can make your own, or buy some at the store). Top the pizza with whatever you have in the fridge! My favorite toppings are feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, olives, and grilled chicken. Drizzle to top with a little bit of olive oil, and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the crust begins to crisp on the edges.
-Homemade White Bean Dip: Start with a can of your favorite white beans and drain- I usually go with great northern beans or navy beans. In a food processor or small blender, add beans, a tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and serve with pita bread and fresh veggies for dipping!
- Greek Yogurt Chicken Breast: I absolutely love cooking with Greek yogurt because it makes dishes creamy, without adding tons of calories. Start with a cup of plain Greek yogurt and add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Season the mixture with whatever you have on hand (I usually add garlic and basil). Coat your boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the yogurt and let it marinate for 2 hours. Cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, and enjoy! Serve with steamed veggies and brown rice.
Now that you’ve discovered (or are on the path to discovering) your passion, it’s time to make it happen. This might seem like a daunting task, but try taking things one step at a time. If it’s something you already know a great deal about, you’re already off to a fantastic start. However, if you’re anything like me, you might not know much about the field you’ve decided to pursue. Here a few ideas that will get you headed in the right direction and will send you on the way to becoming a happy (and successful!) professional.
1. Find a mentor. Finding someone in your desired profession, who can teach you everything he or she knows about that field, is perhaps the most valuable step you can take. Maybe you have someone in mind you can talk to, or maybe you have to start from scratch like I did. When I decided that photography was something I was interested in, I simply emailed a wedding photographer and asked whether she might be interested in meeting with me to talk about her profession. It was scary putting myself out there, but I quickly found that people are very willing to help.
2. Get an internship. While internships usually mean unpaid work, the experience you’ll gain in the end will make it well worth your time and energy. This will also give you a chance to “test-run” your possible career. Maybe you find that you aren’t in fact crazy about it, but at least you won’t make the same mistake twice!
3. Teach yourself. We live in a world of YouTube and self-help books, so take advantage! There are so many tools available to us that our parents didn’t necessarily have when they were preparing for their careers. Start by simply “Googling” your career of choice and you’ll find countless websites, articles, and blogs, where professionals in that particular field share their success secrets and stories. Head to the nearest bookstore and pick up a book that talks about your potential career in detail.
4. Make connections. I’ve only been working in the photography industry for a few months now, but already I’m making awesome connections and meeting new people all the time! Each photographer I meet offers new insights and advice for aspiring photographers like myself. So don’t be shy! Get your name out there, shake as many hands as you can, and welcome their advice with open arms!
It seems impossible to ask an 18 year old, fresh out of high school, to choose a major and a career path that will dictate their future. Take it from someone who has had five (yes, FIVE) majors over the course of her college career. I came to UK as an “undecided,” and quickly switched to nursing because it seemed like every girl in my dorm was in the program. Easy choice… Just jump on the bandwagon right? Well, I worked my butt off getting into our competitive nursing school (which I did!), but had a change of heart the summer after my freshman year upon realizing that being in nursing school meant I actually was going to have to be a nurse when I graduated.
I knew that I wanted a profession that would allow me to be around people rather than spending hours stuck behind a giant desk in a cubicle the size of my shower, with fluorescent lights overhead. So my second major? Elementary education. It didn’t take long for me to realize this one wasn’t for me, so I switched, yet again.
This time I went with what I was truly interested in and made dietetics my new major. I stuck with this for a semester, but after realizing that there was no possible way for me to graduate in four years (I can thank all those chemistry classes for that!), I decided to switch my major yet again. For a long time, I regretted switching from dietetics just because nutrition and the human body are both so interesting to me.
I made a big jump with my next major change from dietetics to integrated strategic communications. I figured at this point that I obviously had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I chose something broad, and figured I could do a lot of different things with communications. I stuck with this one for a few semesters, but began to dislike that my classes were becoming more and more about advertising, which was something I didn’t have much interest in.
My final change was to journalism. At the end of the day, writing just seemed so natural to me and was something that I really loved to do. Regardless of whether or not I actually become a journalist, the writing and communication skills I’ve learned over the past semesters will be so valuable to me in any career I may choose.
So there you have it — my journey from nursing to journalism, and everything in between. I joke about my crazy major-changing story all the time, but really I’m proud of myself for truly listening to my heart, and not simply settling for something I wasn’t entirely passionate about. Now, just months before I graduate, I am fully aware of what it is that I DON’T want to do, which seems just as valuable as having a clear career path.
I am learning to trust the process, and I have no doubt that I will end up with the career that is perfectly tailored to me. Let this be a lesson to all college freshmen trying to decide what major is right for you: the lessons you learn outside of the classroom are SO much more important and valuable to your future. Just follow your passions and the right major with find YOU!