WHY IT’S OKAY TO BE UNDECIDED
This blog was written by Hannah Sachs ’14& ’16
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s likely you’ve been asked this question time and time again, for as long as you can remember, and it’s possible that your answer may have changed on quite a few occasions. The truth is, I graduated almost seven years ago, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!
What I do know though, is that careers can be a journey with an unknown destination.
Here’s my non-linear journey…so far.
I enrolled at Binghamton, as an undecided student, and focused first on my general education requirements, discovering what piqued my interest. I knew what I didn’t like, and that certainly helped narrow my choices. During my sophomore year, I made an intra-university transfer to CCPA, where I declared a major in Human Development. I knew I wanted to work with people, and the classes required in this program sounded most interesting to me.
As graduation creeped closer, the impending “what’s your plan?” question had me panicking. “I’m not ready for the real world!” I thought.
It was during my senior year, that I realized the things I was engaged with outside the classroom were giving me more clarity about what I wanted to do, than the classes I took. I was a campus Tour Guide, a Resident Assistant, an intern in the Dean of Students office, and involved with student government. And one day, while in a meeting with my Resident Director, I had an epiphany when she told me I’d be great in a career in Higher Education Student Affairs. Within months, I was granted admission into Binghamton’s Graduate Degree program in Higher Education Administration and had secured a Graduate Assistantship with The Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development.
After two years spent working with undergraduate students in one-on-one consultations, presenting workshops, running a mock interview program, and writing lots of lengthy research papers, I was finally ready to tackle the real world as the Assistant Director of The Career Center at a small college in Massachusetts, and I was good at it! Suddenly, just under two years into my tenure, this college closed. I felt lost and heartbroken as I reviewed the resumes of my now unemployed colleagues.
Months later, I began a new position at a larger university in Massachusetts, but not long into this job, I felt the need to change direction. I left my career in higher education and pursued a People Operations role at a nearby tech start-up. I quickly fell IN LOVE with this job. I was delivering onboarding programming for new employees, facilitating company-wide events, and learning a lot about Human Resources, while working with smart people who made going to work fun. Unfortunately, the uncertainty of COVID-19 cut this part of my journey short when they did a 25% reduction in force. Once again, I found myself unemployed.
As it turns out, this devastating loss was a blessing in disguise. With my next move, I joined a start-up that supports professionals in returning to work after voluntary career breaks. I find my role as Program Manager to require a perfect combination of my strengths and a mere eight months into this role, I can confidently say I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I see growth for myself and am gaining confidence and clarity on my sense of career direction.
Today, I have no idea what might be next for my journey, but my non-linear path has led me here, and I’m totally okay with that!
So, if you find yourself worried about what to major in, or what you’ll do with your degree after graduation, don’t worry about thinking so far ahead. Instead, focus on the journey, not the destination.