How does someone go from being a professional ballet dancer to a college career advisor? The truth is that, as a student here at Indiana University Bloomington, I never spent much time analyzing what was most important to me. I enjoyed my classes and I liked my professors, but I didn’t ever really imagine what a career would look like.
It turns out a career in dance performance wasn’t really a good fit for me. My first year out of college was rough – I didn’t enjoy the work and I didn’t have much in common with my co-workers. It was a stark contrast to everything I loved about my college experience. Where was the disconnect?
Of course, my journey would have been markedly different had I utilized career services here at IU.
As career advisors, we spend a great deal of time talking with students about the world of work – and how to choose a career they’ll love. I imagine I would have saved myself some time and grief if I’d had even one conversation with a career advisor. On a positive note, I feel that my experience provides me with passion and investment for the subject matter I teach – because I lived it!
I tell my story to students in career classes and drop-in career advising. I usually say, “Don’t be like me. There are so many ways to get career ready while you’re still here at IU. Take advantage of the awesome resources available to you every day.” And each time I help a student make a career plan they feel good about, I am filled with such joy because I know that I’ve given them the tools they need to avoid the type of experience I had after college.
Many students aren’t aware of the numerous career courses, events, and services we provide throughout the semester. There’s always so much going on around campus, it’s easy for our message to get lost. But everyone in our office works hard to increase visibility of our services on a daily basis. We started a campaign last year called “Start Early” that aims to engage students as freshmen and sophomores in the career exploration and planning process. As part of the campaign, we created a fun documentary-style video about starting a career journey and we created career guides that provide some ideas of career paths students might enjoy.
It is easy for students to get wrapped up in everything college has to offer and, before they know it, the beginning of freshmen year blurs into senior graduation. I’m so excited about our office’s push to work with students right from the beginning of their college experience. It means we are right there at freshmen orientation, helping students choose classes and investigate majors of interest — and we continue serving as allies through their graduation, when they might need help applying to graduate school or negotiating job offers.
It’s kind of ironic that the career that makes me so happy is the one I didn’t know existed as a college student.
I see it as my mission to help students have these epiphanies on a daily basis and, hopefully, leave IU ready to conquer the world.