Navigating Majors & Career Paths :My Journey
As a child, I had always envisioned myself as a doctor. Not only was it a career that is deemed to be prestigious, but I was always interested in the ways that the body worked, and in particular, the development of methods and medicine to combat disease and mental health issues. All through grade school, the subjects that I gravitated towards always revolved around developing technologies, programming, and natural sciences. However, when it came time to apply for college, I couldn’t figure out which to pick as my major since I had so many different interests. One part of me wanted to do marketing/advertising, but another part of me wanted to keep within the technology family (engineering, computer science), or even to pursue my life long dreams of becoming a doctor (Biology/Pre-med). However, as a competitive violin player of then (12 years), incorporating a music major into my studies was also a very viable option.
In the end, I decided to attend the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Pre-Med and Music, as I had received a hefty scholarship in those areas. While I loved the school and the city, after just 1 year, I decided that I wanted to pursue neither pre-med nor music as a full time career. As I was making the transition back to Maryland, my home state, I had to choose whether to attend a bigger college or a smaller one. Ultimately, I chose to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, majoring in Mathematics because it was a smaller school (I would much rather be a bigger fish in a small pond, than just one of the many in the sea). After reaching the 400-level courses within the mathematics major, and completing some application projects in the workforce, I realized that mathematics and hardcore data analysis was not something that I was passionate about, or could commit myself to doing for the next 40 years of my life. Hence, I made the switch to Media & Communications and Statistics, career fields that I was super passionate about, and that allowed me to keep my technical skills sharp.
Through many internships, I had been able to try out many different fields from healthcare, to politics, automotive, media, and consumer analysis. Each of these fields has taught me something different about the world, but also about the things that I was looking for in a future career. With each of the positions however, I had to dive into the search for jobs. The hardest thing about “career planning and job hunting” at this point for me was to be able to take a step back, and think of myself as a person, and to “accept and embrace [my] starting point” (Pollak). With every passing semester and internship, I would grow as a person outside of my consciousness. Although the process of applying was “frustrating [and] overwhelming”, it was a step that I still do to this day (Pollak). That said, it is important to reflect, and to embrace the newer, more mature person that I am, so that I am able to convey that growth to others.
This past summer, I had the pleasure of working at Nielsen within their Technology Infrastructure sector. I developed a great passion in working directly with clients, and discussing the technologies and products that we have, but at a high level. For many software engineers, the act of relaying the technical information to a non-technical party is difficult. I found that this place was the perfect niche for me, and it was something that I was looking to do as a graduate. The stressors I have in terms of looking for full time employment is trying to find that perfect balance between technical work, statistics, and communications. Most employers that I have approached have been looking for strict technical majors with a BS in some form of engineering/computer science. In my case, I am neither of those majors, although I do possess some of the same backgrounds as they do. Therefore, ruling me out as a candidate.
An additional struggle that I was facing constantly was the eyes and judgments of my parents on my career choices. It was their dream for me to become a engineer or doctor as they are both engineers, but that area was just not something that I considered. Although they do try to involve themselves, they sometimes push too hard with their opinions that it becomes “inappropriate for [them] to be involved” (Pollak). However, moving forward, I am excited to keep exploring the world of technology, and to bring my experiences and knowledge to the field from media & communications, music, programming, and statistics.