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PREPARING YOURSELF FOR TODAY: HOW I PUT MY CAREER PATH IN MY OWN HANDS
Nowadays it is made all too easy to put yourself into a profession, even without credentials of traditional schooling. Employers care about experience, but if they can snag an entry-level employee at a much lower cost then they will choose that method. This is not the case will all companies, but it is for most businesses that freelance out work to smaller firms or individuals. And for this reason, it has become increasingly easier to become a freelancer for a myriad of different types of jobs.
An advertisement I saw for Cornerstone University today read, "Apply what you learn in class today on the job tomorrow." With this, mentality, it teaches some students to be perpetually waiting to start their careers — when other students, and even people not in school, are getting started today. It is easy to listen willingly to mentors, advisors, syllabi, or even universities and colleges themselves but it is also crucial to stop and think about what routes in life are truly the best ones.
The majority of universities push students to go from theory to practice, whereas some people today are going from practice to practice. It is true that students do practice what they learn during school – but what about what happens when they're outside of the school, outside of the safety bubble of campus, how will they acclimate to a new environment? I believe it is pivotal for students, or anyone aspiring to look into a new career, to take the extra steps in flexing their knowledge, to dream of large goals, and to do this by actually doing what they want to do.
While it is largely dependent on the dream job, gaining experience in the workforce is no longer as hard as it used to be. This goes doubly so for any job that can be done remotely or freelanced out to creative professionals online. There is a long list of websites out today that take people/ businesses with work to be done and sort them with the right people who do that type of work. And along with this, there are also all of the small business opportunities like selling on Etsy or creating e-commerce websites. For more complex jobs that are more hands-on, there are sometimes volunteer/ internship options and then there are mountains of information and experiences online that can be found for leisurely research.
Early in my college career, I was nearly forced to go into the professional world. Now, nearing my senior year and receiving my bachelor's degree, and I can only thank myself enough for choosing to flex what I can do. And because of the decision I made, I am finding myself ahead of the curb than the students around me.
During my first semester of college, I was an accounting major. But after my work offered me a job in the accounting firm, I was like, "that sounds awful and boring," (I was a host at an up class taphouse at the time). I realized that accounting was definitely not for me. The funny part was that I was really enjoying the ease of the classes because math comes fairly easy to me. It was not until I was offered a position to do it at an actual company, that I knew I was going in the wrong direction. I thought the ease and pay would be brilliant. But no, my gut told me that ease equals an unsatisfying life. And so I changed my major, twice. Slowly figuring out what would fulfill me career-wise.
Because of my mid-first year accounting-dilemma, I threw myself into my love for philosophy. After getting a job on campus as an ambassador for the retention center in my fourth semester, I found my calling: problem-solving with creative strategies and helping someone reach their goals. The goals in that instance were a higher student-walk-in rate in the smallest, farthest office on campus and more attention for the group itself. Organizing a few parties, sitting at info tables, creating infographics for social media. I absolutely loved it, and I asked my boss, "what even is this job?" – "It's really just public relations," he answered.
Eventually, I wanted to double major in both advertising/public relations (Ad/PR) and philosophy after working at the school. But I only really got a taste of Ad/PR before having to move onto a big university – taking only one class, with the worst, grumpiest, most out-dated professor. But I knew that this was exactly for me and did not let my experience with her affect my view of the entire Ad/PR world.
Once my last semester at the college ended, I could no longer work for them as an ambassador and this made me make a fairly big decision. Should I go back to the taphouse and work at my old job? Or should I try to find a way to do PR for someone else? With a small one-man-show amount of experience and
Choosing between these two options was a fork-in-the-road, a truly life-altering decision. It is hugely common to be nostalgic and sentimental about the past. But to purposefully choose to move backward in life is not what the person I want to be would do. This is why I decided to become a freelance writer; taking all of the knowledge I had learned and put it towards a goal of gaining more experience in my new found passion. One should always be moving forward in life, constantly changing and adapting to the world around them, because it truly fuels the fire of creating and cultivation.
Moving forward was the only option I could choose, not necessarily for me but for the future me. In all reality, all of the choices we make do not affect us but affect the future us, because that is who will be dealing with the decisions we make. More importantly, we all have to get a grown-up job at some point. Going forward was really my only option, and going back to the service industry didn't even exist in my mind after deciding so.
Overall, when I see a sign that encourages students to learn "today" for the "tomorrow" – I want to take a big, fat marker and replace "tomorrow" with "today," making it say something like: "Apply what you learn today to what you are doing today." Because really if we are going to school for what we enjoy, why not start now? Why put it off and be less prepared? For me, the universe more or less made the decision for me but in the end, it was me that let it take the worse option out of my mind.
Before concluding, I do want to mention that I am neither for nor against going to college or general schooling. The overall message of sharing my path to where I am now is that there is plenty of resources out there. For me, it was freelancing online through a website that helps connect those who are in need of work done and those who need work. And for those who need more guidance, colleges do generally offer advisors, job fairs, and many other points of assistance. So with all of these resources available to those who would like to utilize them, in truth it is really dealer's choice.
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