Entering college, there were so many options open. Even as someone committed to attending the business school, I still felt totally encompassed by all the different choices I had. There are dozens of different major/minor combinations you can pick from and even different class combinations within that. And then there are clubs and extracurricular activities. Depending on the size of the campus, there can be anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred of these different organizations to pick from. Combining all these things together there are probably thousands and thousands of different combinations of potential paths one could take through college. There is really an unlimited potential out there for those willing to seize it. So, how does one settle on a path with this information overload?
The easiest way to start to narrow down the choices is the most obvious. By picking a certain career path you are able to winnow your choices to those that most suit that choice. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do ‘for the rest of your life’ with this, but simply having the general outline of a plan will make things all the more easier. For instance, I choose to be a marketing major because I loved writing. This meant that I could allow my writing talents to grow and use them in a commercial setting. Getting paid to write is the dream, and I found a way to make that work.
This narrows things down quite a bit, but there are still lots and lots of choices to make. As a marketing major, do I want to work in a large corporate setting, a small family owned business, or start my own company? Each of these decisions will set you on a different path than the others. If you want to go to a large corporate job then you will focus on cultivating those types of opportunities. You will spend more time at networking events and meeting people who can hook you up with different positions. If you want to work for a smaller company you may head back home (or wherever it is you want to be) and attend local events where you are likely to find businesses to hire you. Starting your own company will lead to a focus on that, laying the groundwork for success after you graduate.
Specialize with classes?
Your career path predictions will also lead you to consider different classes. Classes focused on international business and major supply chain operations probably won’t interest you if you’re focused on small, local business or entrepreneurship. The professors that you seek out and work to form long term relationships with will also be influenced by this. Not that you should cynically pick your friends based off of who can help you the most but rather this will simply cause you to gravitate more towards certain people than others.
The final – and most narrow – choice that will influence your path through college is the one of career. By junior or senior year you really should have a specific career idea lined up, even if it doesn’t exactly materialize until after graduation. Upon entering senior year, I knew I wanted to be an SEO specialist. I wanted to work with computers and with small businesses to help them succeed in the marketplace. I loved the ability to work from home and the low barriers to entry for entrepreneurship that this field offered me. It really would allow me to have it all. By choosing this path, I closed off a number of other potential paths I could go on. For instance, in choosing to pursue this specialty, I knew I needed to develop the talent. That meant I needed to get a job where I could get some experience with it. I would dedicate more of my time to this rather than to extracurriculars, social events, and greek life. As I continued to refine exactly what I was planning on doing, I continued to close of different options and potentialities that didn’t serve to further those goals. That’s not to say that there isn’t time for fun, I certainly did take some classes out of pure scholarly interest, but you go into them recognizing that.
My four years here at Indiana University have been an amazing opportunity. While it has been a serious investment of time, I wouldn’t take it back. There really is no better way to figure out what you feel called to do than to be thrown into a place with as many opportunities as this. By being confronted with the scary reality of the unlimited opportunities in front of me, I was forced to focus on my future. It forced me to really look within myself and thing about where I wanted to go. Indiana University is the perfect place for that sort of thing. Go Hoosiers!