When I started college, I thought I had everything figured out. I was confident in my choice of major, had an idea of a career path and really enjoyed my classes. Fast forward about two and a half years later and I realized that I was wrong. In the United States, more than 50% of college students change their major. While changing your major can be extremely stressful, it can also teach you so much about yourself and your interests. Now, I know I made the right decision, but looking back, there’s so much I wish I would have known. Here are some important takeaways from my experience that I’d share with anyone still finding their niche.
Recognize and respond to your initial instincts
If you feel unsure or dissatisfied about your career path, identify it early on and try to monitor and work through it. If you continue to be displeased, explore your options and see if you can pursue an alternative path. During much of my early semesters, I continued to second-guess myself but never took the initiative to actually understand my feelings and look into alternatives. Learning to trust your instincts and be proactive is important for students finding the right major, but it also extends far beyond college, as we enter the workforce and have to assess our satisfaction with the career choices we made.
Intern early on
Having practical work experience really is the most effective way to find out what you like to do…and what you don’t like to do. In hindsight, I realized that if I did an internship early on, I would have been aware of my interests much sooner. It’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and jobs and internships are the perfect way to identify them. Trying different things is the key to finding your passion.
It’s never too late to get involved
Having changed my major halfway through junior year, I didn’t have any practical PR experience during the entire first half of my college career. I recognized that I needed more to put on my resume, so I secured a summer internship and became involved with PRowl and PRSSA. I was admittedly intimidated at first, but becoming involved has proved to be a great learning experience that has taught me even more about my career interests. College offers you so many experiential opportunities and it really is never too late to take advantage of them.
If anything, changing my major has taught me that things don’t always work out as planned. You might have to overload on classes one semester. A course you wanted to take might not be offered. You might not be able to choose the concentration you wanted. It’s a lesson that life doesn’t always work out as you may have planned. You have to adapt and make do with what you have. Sometimes, you can learn a lot in the most unexpected of places. I had never intended to take a social movements class, for example, but it has taught me so much about persuasion, a skill necessary in PR.
The process of changing my major involved a lot of stress, uncertainty, and confusion. Sometimes, the path we’re taking just isn’t the one we’re meant to be on. You can learn from your difficulties, though, and use your experiences to get you moving in the direction of your true interests.
This blog post was written by Account Associate Casey Santos.