Ismath at her graduation.

by Ismath Mohideen

Ladies, ever get that nagging feeling that your career has no direction? Like that college degree isn’t valuable in the real world? That you foresee religiously searching Monster.com for something that pays when you graduate, while simultaneously trying to impress your family? You’re not alone. I experienced the same thing when I graduated from college. And this economy isn’t making it any easier. You are not alone when stressing about your career. Just take a look at my career path.

As someone who was influenced by her parents in high school (just like a lot of us), I chose a comfortable major with applicable potential – computer science. Great choice, right? Well, if it worked for Dad’s 25 year career, it must work for me too! I never took a single CS course in college. The thought of learning programming languages and hanging around left-brained nerdy boys just didn’t appeal to me at that time (Sorry all you CS guys out there! Disclaimer: I LIKE nerdy boys!!).

So, I thought about my major some more. I knew I was interested in healthcare and helping people, but I didn’t want to spend 10 years and $150K to become a doctor, so I chose nursing as a major. The competition among those die-hard nursing students got the best of me (and my grades), and ultimately I didn’t make it as a nurse. Big whammy there! I thought life was over! What am I going to do with all these nursing and biology classes? Should I transfer schools? Move back home? Not graduate from college altogether? What a shame! I thought I was going to be a failure in my parents’ eyes.

Luckily, my classes transferred neatly into a very interesting major: Human Development and Family Sciences. It’s all about human relationships and interactions, everything from child development, to family dynamics, to public policy related to family issues. It was fantastic. I enjoyed my classes, my peers and my grades skyrocketed. I even wrote an essay about South Asian Americans managing the delicate balance of our two unique cultures! But the looming question still stung, what happens after graduation? I didn’t want to be a preschool teacher, or a Child Protective Services agent or a social worker, so I poured through the job listings in the Dallas Morning News.career2

The first lesson: I like working with people.

I ended up in sales. I worked for a mortgage company for nearly two years after graduation. I learned all about the business, the customers, the loan products and most importantly, how to interact with people in a business environment. The economy made things even more challenging, but I learned to educate people on good credit maintenance. Suze Orman became my go-to girl for financial advice!

Even though I was successful in my first post-collegiate job, I decided to shift gears and attend graduate school to figure out how to turn all these experiences into a lifelong career. Something told me that there was much more in store for me than mortgages!

The second lesson: I like working with money.

Although it was exhausting to be in school again, it was exciting to be around driven, thought provoking people. I chose Marketing Management as my concentration because I wanted to work closely with customers, while creatively devising ways to make money for my organization. I enjoy learning about business cases, working with my peers and exchanging our own career stories. It was all finally starting to make sense! I even landed an internship at an airline where I can learn more about applying marketing skills in an evolving business environment.

The third lesson: I like creativity.

So ladies, your college degree is, in fact, priceless. No matter how many times you change your major, you’ll get it right. Think about the big picture: what skills are you good at, and what do you like to do? Eventually, you’ll find out where you fit in. If you don’t see yourself being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or some other career according to your parents’ wishes, remember there’s so much more out there!

Keep an open mind and look out for those jobs that will give you the experience you need to advance yourself, even if it takes baby steps to get there.

Image Provided by: Ismath Mohideen

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