Undergraduate Degree != Career ?
September 14, 2009 10:12 AM Subscribe
What do I do when I graduate if I know I don't want to pursue my undergraduate field?
posted by sarahj to education (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm currently a student at a Pretty Good University in the US and I'm (oh my god) going to graduate next year with a B.S. degree in Computer Science, a second major of Environmental Studies, and a minor. I'm doing everything I can to calm my anxiety about this (seeing a therapist, most likely going to get anti-anxiety medication this time), but I am so extremely worried about not knowing what I'm doing next that it's rendered me completely incapable of doing anything without an absolute emotional breakdown (tears, etc).
I decided halfway through my major and a couple internships that Computer Science wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, I didn't want to do research in a mathematical science and i didn't want to make a career out of being a programmer. So I studied abroad, picked a second major that was easy to fulfill and am still kind of slogging my way through my requirements, but I'm going to finish it all.
I overwhelmingly feel the need to be planning my next move. I'm trying to pick up "science-y" lab work to gain experience in something new. Ideally I would be able to find some kind of neat research fellowship for a year or so after graduation, and have that point me in the "right" direction (i.e. any direction), but I don't have the experience, connections, ideas, or anything to make this happen. If I go straight to working, I don't even know what kind of work I would want to look for. I have web programming to fall back on, which I was able to do professionally this summer, but that isn't something I want to make my goal.
I NEED HELP. I have gone to my school's career office countless times, taken one of those 'career advice' exams, which told me I would make a great software engineer (ARGH!), and I've spoken to or emailed almost everyone I can reach who I could get advice from on fellowships and stuff, but it keeps coming back to me needing to know what I want to do. My advisor is an extremely busy person whose specialty falls on the more mathy end of CS, and I don't really have advising- or rec-letter-writing-type relationships with any other professors.
I was advised in the career office that my reasons for wanting to go to grad school are, well, reasonable (I want a degree in something I like and want to use), but I don't know where to start with choosing programs, getting recommendation letters (I only really have my Very Busy advisor and my boss from my summer web development work- not good options), and so on. There are still things I want to try, but I don't have the time - my school created a poorly publicized 'brain science' major that overlaps with computer science, and I likely would have studied this if I had known about it soon enough. But, I don't have any experience or coursework in that area, so it would be kind of out of the blue if I applied for those types of grad programs. I would also lean towards biotechnology, but I don't really know anything about that either. I only really have one semester of 'open' courses where I can choose anything to study, but most of the classes I find super-interesting have prerequisites I haven't had the chance to take, and I will have already applied to grad school/fellowships/jobs by then anyway.
I've been told countless times that so so many people wind up in different fields than their undergraduate major, but most of my classmates seem to be on some kind of track already (The Computer Science majors I know are either going to grad school for it, or have their eye on a company they want to work for). I don't know what career I want to pursue, but I have ideas of what I would like to study, but not much more reason than "because a career in that field would be so interesting!" Most jobs I 'fit' the requirements for right now are programming-intensive or software-related and NOT not not what I want.
My question is, what should I do now, if I know that what I want to do after graduation is going to be different from my undergrad degree? What did you do when you figured out that your undergrad field wasn't what you wanted to continue with?