Walking into your first year of undergrad with a defined major in hand and a specific job in mind seems impossible. But not for me. I planted myself in the big dream of becoming an Editorial Manager of a major publishing company in the Big Apple. My dream felt like a laser sharp blueprint as I began my journey as a freshman at the University of Iowa.
Surrounded by the industry nearly my entire life gave me confidence. I knocked out some required classes, eventually moving into sophomore year with four out of my five semester courses in my major. But as I started that semester with high hopes, my confidence was quickly exchanged with a constant state of uneasiness.
Committing to the English major gives you an aura that in turn produces a pitying smile from those who ask.
Some professors prepare you to combat the sideways glances and the inevitable question, “What can you do with a degree in English?” But it always sets off a red warning light making you ask yourself, “What am I going to do with this degree?” Quickly, though, you pick yourself up from the peer-induced pity party. Then you pick up your copy of Shakespeare and march to your first serious English class ready to learn.
“Good morning students. Welcome to the class that was made to deter the weak currently thinking they are English majors.” Throughout the semester, harsh statements continued to shoot out of my professor’s mouth. They were also not an uncommon occurrence among many professors and teaching assistants within the department. Others included, “Publishing is a dying industry,” or “We definitely don’t do this for the money,” and my personal favorite, “Shoot for the small jobs because you most likely won’t get a job.” Just the inspiring words of encouragement you yearn to hear from your teachers.
While I didn’t hear these inspiring words of wisdom from every teacher I had, it was rare to go a week without being told one, if not more of these statements during my fall semester.
Still, I persisted through the mounds of required reading. I covered my ears as I received lectures about my eventual failure as a writer or editor. Keeping in touch with my cheerleaders back home, I started the process of finding a summer internship. I sent multiple resumes out the door with my head held high and planning out what I would do if I would need to battle between two positions. Needless to say, I’m going to have quite a bit of time on my hands this summer.
I finished my sophomore year without an internship. Thoughts of constant failure thanks to professors and little experience in the field didn’t add to my confidence level. So many people have pushed my aspirations down. I’m mentally back at the starting line of my college race to success, unsure of myself or if the career I imagine now resembles the job I once fantasized.
There’s no clear definition of how you’ll discover your major or even your passion through your time spent at college. You could come in undecided with less than a one-month plan in your back pocket and graduate with a set career course already ahead of you.
Or like me, you could spend your life focused on a single job and become derailed halfway through your college career. Robotically maneuvering through your major won’t lead you to success. Sometimes your 18 years of planning will be thrown back in your face in the span of a month. Absorb the blows. You succeed by continuing your walk towards that diploma, no matter if your life plan crumbles at your feet.