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On Finding Your Path

by CJ McCartin, Marketing Lead

For as long as I can remember, my life has been structured. Between having an older brother with autism who relies heavily on schedules, to being a lifelong competitive swimmer, a sport that goes 365 days a year, routine is something I've always known. Knowing what I know now, I recognize that a structured life is a privilege, and it's something that set me up for success. But the past few years have taught me that not everything in life can be structured and executed according to plan, and taking chances can pay off in a big way.

The one aspect of my life I was never able to fully plan out is my career path. I didn't know what I wanted to do after college graduation, and more importantly, I didn't know about all of the career paths out there that matched up with my strengths and interests. I majored in English because I loved to write and it was always my favorite subject in school, but being an English or humanities major can be discouraging when it comes time to find a job. At my first networking event with the business school at my college, an alum actually laughed when I told him my major, and he asked, "so when are you going back to school to get a real degree?" This type of narrative around my major was intimidating, and I truly felt lost when it came to career exploration.

After a few discouraging opinions were thrown my way, I looked away from business towards a more structured path: law school. Not because I had big dreams of becoming a lawyer, but because I was told that English majors often went to law school. Initially it sounded great: three more years of rigorous, intense structure that would delay my inevitable plunge into the real world. What a win! But I knew in my gut that I didn't want to be a lawyer, and I knew that going to school for three more years (and piling on thousands of dollars of debt) wasn't going to solve my career exploration problems, it would only delay them.

I'm lucky that even though I ran into some negative opinions on my journey, I also ran into some incredibly positive ones. My first marketing professor, a very successful marketer, told my entire class that he was an English major in college, and that the students in the humanities building across campus were qualified and would apply for the same jobs as the business students. My mentor Adam always saw me being an English major as a strength rather than a weakness, especially in the field of marketing. Being creative, crafting and maintaining a brand narrative, and having strong the written communication skills are all elements of being an English major that I use every single day as a marketing lead here at UpperCampus. It took some time, some self-reflection, and some faith in myself to choose the uncertain path of going into a field I wasn't sure would accept me, and it's a decision I'm so glad I made.

It can be intimidating and stressful to figure out what you want to do with your life. There are so many factors that come into play when making what feel like the biggest decisions of your life when you're still just a kid, but know that in the virtual world we live in, access to opportunities have never been more within reach. UpperCampus Explore is free and accessible to anyone with a mobile device or browser access, and you're able to learn about careers that combine your interests and strengths. You can explore crucial career information earlier than students have before, and you can imagine yourself in career paths you never knew existed. I'm passionate about UpperCampus because I would have loved a platform like this when I was in school. It would have saved me from a lot of self-doubt and worrying about my future, and would have opened my eyes to the possibilities out there for me. It's made me realize that having the power to explore is more beneficial than any structure could be.


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