Before coming to Gonzaga, I remember dreading those two questions it seemed everyone in my life wanted to know the answer to: “What are you majoring in?” and “What do you want to do after college?”
Even though I am set in my major, I still don’t really have an answer for what exactly I want to do for a career after I graduate, and that’s OK.
Coming into college, I didn’t know if I would stay with communication studies, the major I went in with, but I ended up loving it and it turned out to be the right choice for me. Not everyone will have this experience though — sometimes you have to try out a few different majors or minors until you find the right fit, which is also completely fine.
However, even though what you major in is a big decision, your major or minor isn’t the end-all be-all in terms of what you do after college.
It doesn’t seem logical to have your entire life planned out when you graduate. People change over the course of their education, lives and career paths. Our lives rarely follow a straight line. Majors are more of a guideline of what your general career field might be, and even then, things can change.
Placing a heavy emphasis on knowing exactly what you want to study and what you want to do after college does more harm than good. Pressuring people to know what career they want to have when they haven’t necessarily fully experienced the world yet just creates more stress and anxiety about the future. Students already have enough to worry about between class work, jobs, clubs, having a social life and everything else.
Pressuring students to know what they want to do after college also could cause some people to follow a career path that doesn’t actually line up with their interests.
Someone might just end up taking the first opportunity that arises because they feel like they have to know what they want right away. Even pressuring students to pick a major or minor right away is harmful. It’s better to be sure of what you’re studying, since college is the time to learn about what really interests you.
If you’re feeling stress creep in about knowing what you want to do after graduation, rest assured that so many people have found themselves on completely different paths than they had expected.
In my experience as a journalist and communications student, many of the people I’ve spoken with about their careers have described how they never expected to be where they are now, or how what they studied in college isn’t directly linked to their current career, but they are happy with where they ended up anyways.
Unlike generations before us, Gen Z is more likely to change careers frequently. With so many new career opportunities opening up due to technological advancements and increased consciousness for social issues and societal needs, it’s better to be flexible and keep an open mind when it comes to career possibilities.
If you know generally what interests you but not what career you want to have, majoring in something that is broad enough that it will give you access to a wide range of job opportunities is also a good way to go. That way, you’ll be able to learn about a broad range of topics, and further pursue specialized interests through internships, clubs and other activities.
When you do find the right course of study for you, learning becomes more enjoyable and exciting, which is how it should be. But keep your mind and your options open even after you graduate, because learning doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop after college, and you might just stumble upon something enticing that isn’t in the same field as what you majored in.