Finding Your Career Passion

My brother just put down his deposit at Ohio State University, with an intended major in business, and since I’m graduating in May, I’ve been thinking about my own freshman year. So I thought I’d write a post for some of the younger readers – high school, early college – about finding a major/career that you’re really passionate about.

Now, to be fair, I recently read a very thought-provoking article about the phrase “Do what you love, love what you do.” The piece discussed how this advice is only relevant to those with privilege, and diminishes the value and necessity of working-class jobs. So recognizing this important perspective, and understanding it’s significance, I’d like to still discuss the idea of finding happiness and passion in one’s career.

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My freshman year of college, I decided that since no major seemed to fit my interests perfectly, I was going to take advantage of American University’s offering and create my own interdisciplinary major, combining all my favorite areas of study. What would this major be? I looked at my interests and skills. I love to write, I’m a people person, I like social media, and events, and talking. I knew I wanted something creative, but not artistic (hey, gotta be realistic). I didn’t realize at the time that all of these interests were also relevant to branding, PR, marketing, advertising, and sales.

I had a bit of a head start because I did journalism in high school and loved it. As co-editor-in-chief of my high school’s newspaper, I discovered my love for writing, leadership, and beautifully packaged information.

So I pulled out the AU course book (yes, a physical book, with paper and everything) and looked for classes that fit my interests. In attempting to build my supermajor, I realized that what I wanted already existed under the name Public Communication. And, as they say, the rest is history.

My advice to students entering college or early in college trying to choose their major/career is this: Just because it’s your major, doesn’t mean you’re making a decision about the rest of your life. Unless you’re already positive about a very technical career like engineering or medicine, choose a college with options that you can explore. Take advantage of your general education requirements and learn about different fields. You may hate the historical aspects of your anthropology class but leave with the takeaway that you’re interested in human behavior, and boom! You’ve found your way to psychology or sociology. Each positive and negative academic experience can lead to others, and if you take a critical look at what you got out of each one, it can help you find your way.

On top of that, once you find your major and professional interests, classes are not enough. Internships and clubs on campus are what will help you gain a real understanding of the industry. It took me several internships doing in-house PR, agency PR, fashion, food & beverage, consumer goods, and B2B to finally understand what type of career I’m seeking, and what I’m really passionate about.

This was my experience, and I’m sure that others came to decisions about careers and majors in different ways. I’d love to hear how you came to find your career passions, or if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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