Did you enter college unsure of what career you wanted? Some students who decide on a career after entering college will find the university they are attending does not offer the major they need. Students in this situation, who decide not to transfer colleges, must find more unconventional ways of preparing for graduate school.
I entered college expecting to major in biology, with the ultimate goal of landing a job helping others learn the subject. But I had no definite career plans. I remained uncertain of what career I wanted to pursue throughout my first year of college. This changed after I decided to spend my summer on campus, working with a team of professors on a project creating a non-majors biology textbook called BioBook.
My role in building BioBook has been as a writer and editor. After working on the project for a year, I began searching for a career that would combine my love of teaching, writing and biology. Through some online research, I learned about scientific writing.
Scientific writers are not required to have a master’s degree, but having one would make me a more competitive job applicant. Since I started considering this profession, I have been looking into various graduate programs. I was glad to discover most scientific-writing graduate programs will accept applicants with undergraduate majors in biology. However, to prepare for these programs I needed to learn more about journalism.
To meet this challenge, I took an online course in scientific writing to learn the basics. In addition, I am interning this semester with the communications and external relations department at Wake Forest. Through this internship, I hope to build a portfolio and learn more about the process of pitching, crafting and publishing a story.
Even though I will not graduate with a degree in scientific writing, I am confident that my experiences will prepare me for a job in the field.
Holly Hinshelwood came to college unsure of what career she wanted to pursue. Like most liberal arts students, she spent her first year taking a diversity of classes. She most enjoyed her linguistics class and began looking at careers that used linguistics and, per her mom’s recommendation, discovered speech pathology.
After researching the career and shadowing a speech therapist, Hinshelwood decided she wanted to be a speech pathologist. The only problem was that her university only offered a minor in linguistics. Hinshelwood considered transferring colleges, but she ultimately decided not to because she valued the community she had found during her first year on campus. However, the decision not to transfer meant she needed to consider how she could tailor her coursework to her future career.
During her sophomore year, Hinshelwood decided to major in Spanish and minor in linguistics, with the plan to take as many linguistic courses as possible, even if the hours exceeded the amount required for her minor. She also discussed courses with professors to determine which ones would most prepare her for speech pathology. In addition, Hinshelwood gained experiences that furthered her career goals by studying abroad twice — once in Spain and once in New Zealand.
Hinshelwood went to Spain hoping to become fluent in Spanish. While there, she was frustrated by her inability to fully express herself and began to understand the challenges faced by bilingual speakers. This has led her to consider being a bilingual speech pathologist. After studying in Spain, she spent the next semester at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. This opportunity allowed her to study speech pathology and gain a better sense of the field.
Hinshelwood never regretted her decision not to transfer, and is now applying to graduate schools. While some may have doubted Hinshelwood’s course of action, through careful planning, she was able to utilize the opportunities available to build a commendable application.
You can always pursue the career you want. Even if the college you attend does not offer the major you need, there are other ways to prepare for your career. You can apply for internships in your career field, take online classes or even study abroad to learn needed skills and take relevant courses. It is possible to prepare for your dream career, regardless of your undergraduate degree. All it takes is creativity and careful planning.
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