What do you want to be when you grow up?
It seems kids have no trouble at all answering this question.
One can visualize a class of third graders with hands excitedly reaching for the sky as child after child confidently shouts their dreams for the future.
These ambitions, however, typically change as a child grows older and gains a broader perspective of the world and of themselves.
By the time they arrive in college, these now-young adults are often unsure of what exactly they want to be when they “grow up.”
A Very Important Puzzle
At the University of Tennessee, all students are required to choose a major by the end of their sophomore year. This task proves to be difficult for those students who remain uncertain about their career.
UT career counselor Erin Bennett, along with her coworkers in the Center for Career Development, see students each semester who struggle with this very important decision.
“There’s not really a black and white to any of these decisions,” Bennett said. “It’s kind of like a puzzle that you’re just piecing together, so I encourage students to consider their personal interests, but also consider whether they value job security for that field.”
After students settle on which career they want to pursue, the real work begins.
Acquiring applicable experience is the most beneficial way to set oneself apart from the competition. Participating in internships and leadership positions in student organizations allow students to gain credibility.
“What employers want to see are transferable skills that you’ve attained because you’ve gotten yourself out there,” Bennett said. “Even if it’s an internship where you end up not liking what you’re doing, you’ve still gained experience and have more self-knowledge.”
Loving What You Do
Students frequently try to find ways to incorporate their passions and hobbies into their career decision-making process.
Michael Slandzicki, a senior studying marketing, is one such student. After receiving his first gaming console, a Nintendo 64, at just 4 years old, Slandzicki has always had a screen in front of him, “for better or for worse.”
Years of gaming developed into a passion that drove him to pursue a career in Esports.
Slandzicki began his studies freshman year as a computer science major with hopes of becoming a game developer. At the same time, he established and began serving as the president for the UT Esports club. He also co-founded the collegiate league for the game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” for which he recruited more than 100 colleges across the U.S. to join.
Through these experiences, Slandzicki realized that his strength did not lie in video game development. He felt a pull toward the marketing side of esports. He realized his love for spreading the word about esports to not only fans and players, but also to those unfamiliar with the industry.
“I think that it’s really cool because as you talk to people who don’t know, they become more aware of it [esports],” Slandzicki said. “Then, word gets around and it can grow bigger and bigger.”
Hard work is a given when pursuing a hobby for a career. Being aware of strengths and weaknesses, while also being open to change, will aid in one’s journey.
Bennett wants students to know that their dream job is never going to “hit them upside the head someday.” Finding that dream job takes focus, compromise and work.
Story by Haley Harbin
Edited by Maddie Torres and Grace Goodacre
Featured image by GotCredit, courtesy of Creative Commons