I tell them that when I was a senior in high school, I had vague ambitions of double-majoring in finance and French. This was mainly due to the fact that I had met a family friend who worked in finance and seemed to go on a lot of business trips to France. Based on my scant knowledge of her job and my extensive admiration for her chic New York City lifestyle, I decided that sounded good to me too. Spoiler alert: I never took a single finance or French class in college.
What I did instead was follow my interests. My childhood love of Shakespeare and Greek and Roman mythology led me to major in classics and minor in English. My year abroad in Rome led to me study Italian, moving on from my four years of high school French. My core curriculum requirements offered the perfect combination of structure and flexibility, pushing me to explore subjects outside my wheelhouse like political philosophy, evolution and genetics, and American pluralism.
The challenge with an abstract major like classics or English is that there is no direct line from that major to a profession, other than teaching those things. But the benefit is that you can do almost anything with those degrees, from medicine, to business, to technology, to professions I’ve never even heard of. The thing I always tell my students is that when I was 17, I didn’t know there was such a thing as an independent college counselor. But the academic and professional experiences I’ve had in the last 15 years have combined to lead me to a career I love, one that I find both challenging and satisfying, and one that I hope to do for decades to come.
So that’s my story. But I’m not unique. In fact, I would argue that I’m the rule, not the exception. As much as students feel pressure to find their path - or at least a path - before they go to college, I think it’s much more common to discover your interests, your strengths, and your ambitions along the way.
To that end, I’m kicking off a new project on the blog. One of the best parts of traveling the world this year has been getting to know the locals who share our co-working spaces, the leaders who are facilitating our adventure, and my fellow Roamers, hearing the stories of how they wound up here, circling the globe and working remotely. We hail from different states, different countries, and almost as many different industries as there are people. I’ll be sharing their stories here every week, starting with my roommate, Sarah, an account director and alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University. My hope is that through this, students and parents will start to see the value of simply being curious, even if you’re not completely certain.