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November 22, 2014
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Opinion

Guest commentary: ‘Ready’ for anything despite indecision on career path

photo
  Patrick Feeney

If I could go back to a certain time in my life, it would be to the time I first walked past the big yellow number countdown on the window of the Office of Career Services and I didn’t understand what it meant.

Now, every time I walk past, the shrinking number reminds me of the seemingly impending doom of graduation: the ceremony that marks when I will be released into a wilderness known as “the real world.” In 2011, Ithaca College launched its “Ready” campaign, which promises students will be ready to dive into their fields with confidence. Granted, some seniors are “ready” to test the waters of full-time employment because they know what they want to do. But I recently find myself thinking the opposite: Did I just spend four years discovering nothing?

Through engaging classes and the massive number of club, internship and volunteer opportunities offered, the college has put more than enough effort into preparing me for my field. But I recently find myself thinking the opposite: Did I just spend four years discovering nothing? After spending the past few years focusing on a field, what if students don’t want to dive into that career but instead run from it?

My indecisive freshman year resulted in me changing my major three times. I switched from the environmental studies program to exploratory during college orientation. This allowed me to take a variety of classes, which I appreciated for the freedom of not being required to take a certain set of courses. I enjoyed meeting people from different majors and had a variety of educational experiences. Then integrated marketing communications sparked my interest, and 18-year-old me impulsively decided this was what I was born to do.

By the end of my sophomore year, however, I had lost interest in the IMC major. I could no longer see myself heading down that career path after graduation, and because of that, I found myself uninterested in the classes, which all seemed repetitive and mundane. I resented that I no longer had the freedom of the exploratory program to take courses that interested me. But by then, it was too late to drop the program. Another major change meant another expensive year of college in order to take all the required classes and graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Up until recently, I thought it was a waste to have spent money and time working toward a degree that I didn’t want to use. I was mad that I had to choose a focus so soon and wished that I could spend my entire college experience exploring all kinds of classes, like I did my freshman year. But lately I’ve realized that, by being forced to focus on my IMC major, I have figured out that, in the future, I should not limit my focus to marketing communications. Since discovering what careers I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working toward, and growing closer to figuring out what I want to do, I wonder why being “ready” to dive into one field with confidence is the promise that the college wants to make.

Focusing on the promise of providing confidence to dive into work sells the college short. Just because a student is confident to enter his or her field doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the student wants to do forever. The college’s strong liberal arts education encourages the well-roundedness of its students, giving them a solid base knowledge, which is critical considering it can take more than four years for a student like me to find a definitive field to dive right into.

I still feel that I had valuable class and internship experiences that can be used in my future. I also feel the college prepared me to have the confidence to try new fields and anything that interests me. The college’s vibrant and encouraging community of scholars and experiential focus in classes all build confidence in its students as individuals. Through my experiences these past few years, I leave knowing the most important lesson: The college has prepared me to be ready for anything.