Four years ago I was on a completely different path than I’m on today. Whowasn’t though? Back then I was set to become a scientist. That’s what I liked to say at least. More specifically, I wanted to be a hematologist. Looking back I never had a good reason for this aspiration. I always hated math and chemistry, and sitting in a chair doing one thing all day bored me. I’m too restless for that.
I guess it was the prestige that enticed me. I think I wanted a career that people would envy. Something that not everyone could do.
At the end of my first semester of college I realized not even the title could make me want to continue. I was back to the drawing board. I constantly found myself lying in bed wondering “now what?”
“What do you like to do?” my friends asked as we sat together at a table in res with plates scattered everywhere.
“I don’t know, read I guess. I need a job where I’m around people. That’s one thing MLS taught me.”
“Why not English? You just said you like to read.”
“Yeah, but I can’t make a career out of reading. There are no jobs in English.”
With a sigh my friends gave up, knowing I’d figure it out sooner or later.
Determined not to transfer schools because I already made a solid group of friends that I didn’t want to leave, I began looking through UMass Dartmouth catalogs hoping a major would jump out at me. ‘Sociology? No. Accounting? No. Engineering?Hell no.
And then I saw it; Human Resource Management. It sounded great. Human resources was all about being around people and there were so many different directions you could go in. I could recruit people for companies, administer benefit information, solve conflicts between employees, payroll, or combine all of these things and be a Generalist. The pay looked decent and the job sounded fun. What else could I ask for?
I began taking business classes and focusing on HR. I enjoyed these classes much more than the science ones I had been used to but I still never felt connected to any of the material I was learning. Everyone told me that’s just how it is in college. “rning is boring”they said.
Late into my sophomore year I got an internship with UPS and then with the HR office on campus. It seemed like finally I knew exactly where I was heading in life. These internships were great college jobs but that’s what it felt like to me, a job. I often wondered when it would stop feeling like a job and start feeling like a career.
After starting my second internship I began volunteering with an organization called Gifts to Give on a children’s literacy campaign. I was tutoring middle school and high school kids and working with them to understand the meanings of short stories and poems.
These kids were amazing. Many of them were English as a second language students and they struggled a lot. I watched as they underlined words they didn’t understand, reread sentences they couldn’t get their minds around, and finally when they understood exactly what something meant I got to see the smiles on their faces.
Suddenly I had the all-too familiar feeling that I was in the wrong field. By this time I was a second semester junior I was already wholly committed to business and I thought it was too late to change majors.
Instead, I decided to declare a writing minor. This would ensure that I wouldn’t fall behind for graduation and would still satisfy my desire to take English classes.
In the fall I started my minor. I took two creative writing classes and a rhetoric class along with three management classes. While all of my friends were manipulating math equations and preparing for presentations I was engulfed in my own world. A world where I could decide the story I wanted to write. Each day that I left my management classes I felt resentful of having to attend but when leaving my English classes I felt inspired. Never before had I left a class excited to do homework or do that class’s readings.
I realized then that it wasn’t enough. Just being an English minor didn’t satisfy me anymore.
I considered my options: stay an English minor and not feel like I got all I could out of college, or declare myself a double major in English and Human Resources and stay a little longer than expected.
I took a week to consider my options and discuss them to death with anyone who would listen. Everyone gave me different advice.
“You need to start paying your loans ASAP,” my dad said.
“You need to decided what’s going to make you happy in the end,” my mom advised.
When the week was over I decided my mom was right, I had to go after what I really wanted. I decided to make a change. I realized that how happy I was when I was at my internship was miniscule to how happy I was when I was with the children from Gifts to Give.
I decided that once I finish both of my majorsI’d enroll in a program to get my teaching license so I couldteach English and business in high school.
I still think I’ll have a career that not everyone can have. Not everyone has the patience to sit down and correct 90 argument papers on Beowulf. Not everyone enjoys reading Shakespeare and discussing the literal or figurative meanings. And not everyone has a passion for writing and learning and teaching like I do. I wish I had listened to my friends freshmen year and became an English major without all the turmoil of declaring two majors, but I feel more grateful that I now know exactly what I want to do and how I’m going to get there.