Written by Monica Page
There are three types of college students:
1. The totally lost: These are the students who signed up for college to figure out what they want to do with their lives. As of right now, that plan isn't functioning at its highest ability, because these people are still totally lost. This is not our focus today.
2. The people who are 100% prepared for the world: These are the students, who were preparing for their career path in the womb. Upon birth the first thing they did was pick up a text book describing how to become "insert career path here." Again, this is not our focus.
3. The people who know what to do, but have no idea how to do it: These are the students who are in the major they want, who know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but the path from point A to point B is an endless sludge of confusion.
For the people in the third group deciding your career path is equivalent to an undeclared student given a list of all the majors in the College of Arts and Sciences and being told to "choose one." Many people don't realize that although you are decided on what you want to major in and in the field you want to work in, actually deciding on a specific job and industry is an entirely different problem.
When I tell people what I want to do with my life they usually respond with, "How?" or "With what company?" An answer like, "Oh, I want to work in sports, but I don't know how or in what area" doesn't seem to compute with many people. Of course having a general idea of a future career path is a lot better than being totally lost, but at times it can be just as bad. Mixing personal confusion with the universal confusion of people who don't understand how you can not have your life planned out does not make life easier.
The best way to get out of this "career purgatory" is to just learn as much as you can about your field and attempt to apply your selected career path to an industry. Example: if you know for a fact you want to work in law, but are not clear on what type of law, take your interests and see what types of law are involved. Like music? Look into copyright law or perhaps law involving contracts between artists.
Too many times people don't know what they want to do, but they know for a fact what they don't want to do. This can be a double edged sword in that you not only limit yourself in available opportunities, but also discredit positions in which you may enjoy yourself. In college, you have the opportunity to have internships. Signing up for an internship is not signing a blood contract with a firm binding you for life with a company. An internship is meant to be a snapshot of a position in a chosen field. Take advantage of it.
So if you're lost, just look on the bright side: you're not TOTALLY lost and you haven't been preparing for your future from the womb. Being confused allows you to look at positions with a clear mind and experiment. Some things you'll like, some things you'll hate. It's better to take chances and discover the good, bad and weird, than remain pigeon holed in one position. If you're still upset about being in career purgatory, just stalk about the freshmen office in the College of Arts & Sciences, nine times out of ten they are all fifty times more confused than you.