It is indisputable that Tech students are astonishingly focused on their career goals and carefully curate steps towards their future from the moment they receive their Tech acceptance letter. Contrasting many other institutions of higher education, the majority of students enter Tech with their majors already selected and hit the ground running.
Some freshmen consult upperclassmen to methodically determine which organizations to join or who they should connect with to get the most ideal career outcomes and to get ahead. Others take the opposite approach, eliminating all potential detractors, focusing on their classwork, not continuing any activities from their high school experience.
The efforts of these students are commendable. After all, the main goal of going to college is to get a degree in the field of study you wish to pursue. However, the hyperfocused pursuit of a career means neglecting the other important aspect of attending university: to get a “well-rounded” education by being exposed to new ideas and experiences.
Too many Tech students dismiss participating in organizations that do not fit their career path or are unrelated to their major because they do not perceive that these activities will help them get past recruiters or feel that the time could be better spent working homework and side projects that companies want to see.
Career goals change all the time, especially for those who are just entering adulthood, so a stringent pursuit of a singular goal may not be the best course of action. This was true for me as I pivoted majors from Industrial Engineering to Computational Media halfway through my Tech career.
While I did somewhat follow the recommended path suggested to me by my IE upperclassmen friends, even attending the same study abroad program, I was not entirely satisfied with my chosen field of study; I longed to flex my creative design side. I satiated this desire through my participation in the Technique — through design, photography and writing.
The gateway for me to becoming a designer was designing and creating layouts for the newspaper in both high school and college. Working on newspaper layouts trained my design eye as I learned about the importance of visual hierarchy, typography, color and photography.
As I explored form and functionality, my interest in design compelled me to switch majors to Computational Media, which opened new doors for me. Combining digital arts, merging traditional computer science with an understanding of visual and interaction design, this program challenges me to consider why users interact with products a certain way while also developing the technical skills to prototype my designs.
I still enjoyed optimizing experiences but the method in which I carry them out has changed. I would not have considered pursuing this field had I not continuously participated in the Technique, an organization that did not relate what I originally wanted to pursue as a career, and discovered what I truly wanted to do — design products and experiences.
Even if you are confident in what you want to pursue career-wise, do not dismiss other not career-related activities that will enhance your life. You might fall in love with the something different and at the least will add balance to your hectic Tech journey.