One of the first assignments I had for my GT1000 class freshman year was to create a career plan complete with my ideas for a job straight out of college, an intermediate position and my dream job years after graduation.
Several students in the class knew exactly what to write and had known, it seemed to me, for years what they wanted to do with their lives.
But I struggled with the assignment. In high school, I always avoided the questions of “What career do you want to have in your future?”
And as a first-year student, I was focused on accommodating to campus life and found it hard to think beyond my next few years at Tech.
I spent hours researching potential jobs and eventually came up with some pretty alright career options that didn’t really excite me but worked for the homework.
When I turned in the assignment, however, I felt a little ashamed that I did not know how to map out my life all perfectly.
Looking back, I now realize that it was (and still is) okay for me to not know.
Throughout my time at Tech, I have tried a little bit of everything to refine my career goals. I interned for two different organizations, worked in three different places on campus, joined multiple clubs and almost declared three different minors.
Today, I am still uncertain of what my “dream career” is, and I am still trying out different options. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Taking a winding path towards my career over the last few years has helped me to understand more about myself and the types of jobs I thrive in.
I’ve also been able to learn about a variety of subjects, meet many fascinating people and develop into a more confident student and individual.
I’ve come to value my time of exploration at Tech additionally for the fact that it has helped me learn that it is okay (in fact, probably, normal) to have a fuzzy path ahead.
I have discovered, though, one caveat of exploration: you have to be committed to trying new things. You cannot let your indecision serve as an excuse for inaction.
It was originally hard for me to apply for jobs or commit to activities because I wanted all of my choices to align in the same field, so employers could understand my resume and see my background clearly.
But, with my career ideas changing frequently, this was not possible.
So, I dedicated myself to picking one choice at a time and working hard on following that one path, even if I wasn’t entirely sure where it would lead or if I would like the final destination.
Someone recently told me that tourists have many options to get to Machu Picchu, one of the most well-known and beautiful places in Peru. One is a train ride from a nearby city, Cusco, which takes one day. Another is the Classic Inca Trail, a 26-mile hike through the winding mountain passes, which takes four days to complete.
Although the former is more popular, the latter option leads you straight to the Sun Gate, one of the most spectacular views of the ruins which many hikers can view early in the morning before all of the tour buses arrive.
I’d like to think that my journey to a career is like hiking along the Classic Inca Trail; it may take longer than most to arrive at my destination, but my experience when I get there, will be better than most.
It may take some wandering through twisting paths, but when I get there, I will be proud of what I have accomplished.
I ended my assignment for GT1000 with “Ultimately, I’m not sure where my life will take me or what will happen in the future (I may even completely change my mind about my “dream job”).”
Today, this statement is still true, but I am okay with not knowing where my life will take me or what my career will be.
Because I know that as long as I keep putting my best foot forward in exploring different options, my journey will lead me to a wonderful destination.