“Its ok to not know what to do with your life”

Photo By COD News via Flickr. Photo taken on May 16, 2014

It’s not as easy as going to college to figure out what you want to do. While many students come to Chapman with a career in mind, others feel lost. In fact, according to research done by All About Careers, 52% of college students agreed with the statement, “I have no idea what I want to do”. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Feeling stuck in the curriculum is overwhelming, but success stories, such as Junior Kyle Harrington’s, show that there is hope for the lost.

 

What was your mentality going into college?

Going into college I knew I wanted to make video games, but wasn’t completely sure what that entailed. There are so many aspects and specialties to a field that come derivatively from other disciplines, but have their own unique factors to consider when specializing.

 

What were your interests?

Filmmaking, writing, puzzles, and a love for live performance. Prior to Chapman I had directed, acted, and sung for film and theater.

 

Did you compare yourself to the people around you since you weren’t sure of what you wanted to do?

I went into college putting a lot of trust into the curriculum of what the school recommended. What I ended up finding was that while I had a natural knack for using/learning the skills for Digital Arts, many of the people around me were much more passionate about specializing in visual effect or animation. I had to be true to myself when my grades were slipping that maybe my passion not precisely being art for games was what was getting in the way. I desired deeper coursework to emphasize in a different area. I wanted to focus on writing, game/level design, and direction for interactive media. In terms of my emotions, it’s really not easy to find a proper identity in the school when you spend half your time in the Dodge film school and the other half in the Schmid computer science school. It’s an odd combo with vastly different people. In a way, I ended up forming an identity as someone that was an advocate for this field of study at the school. It always feels validating when someone finds out about my major and gets excited about asking questions about video games or VR. I like to act as a force of gaining interest for my field with what I’m doing.

 

What is the major that you created? Did one specific thing spark something in you? How’d you do it?

My major is called “Interactive Media Design and Production.” I chose a name that umbrellas AR, VR, interactive theater, 360 video, or other interactive media all together. What spoke to me was growing up around my parents and what they did professionally alongside my love for video games. I saw a lot of what I see in video games at my parents’ jobs. Whether it was an interactive show with characters at a theme park or a website helping firefighters help people quicker, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. My parents supported and helped me from the very beginning; a lot of the time asking me the hard questions so that I could have a stronger curriculum. The next step was working with my faculty advisor Adam Rote to make sure the curriculum and technicalities of the credits were all in place. The final step was gaining a signature from Janell Shearer, the chair of the Media Arts Division at Dodge, and sending it into the registrar’s office. Due to the great mentorship of the faculty, I was able to get the papers approved on the first pass.

 

What is something about yourself that makes you proudest?

Creating your own major really is not a piece of cake. It feels like having to prove yourself everyday in the classroom because it really is a privilege and an honor for the school to allow me to do what I do. I had to put some hard work into staying on track to graduate in four years! That’s honestly stressful beyond compare, but I can honestly say that it’s worth it when I know I’m learning what I need to learn and being prepared to take on a real “adult” job when graduating. I’m proud of myself for taking on this challenge and turning myself into the person with a skillset to make my own goals come to fruition. I’d definitely wish that others take advantage of the resources at the school.

 

At Chapman, the Career and Professional Development Centers have your back through your uncertainty. From scheduling a career appointment to annual Career and Internship expos on campus, your path is important to the school. Go to the Career Center for drop-in visits  or schedule an appointment to get career advising!

 

Here are a few pointers to find out what your interests and passions are:

 

Start small:

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You got one more year of college down. This is something to be proud of. However, feeling pressure from your friends and classmates who found jobs and internships is hard to be around if you aren’t even sure the path you’re on is the right one.  

Here are some suggestions on how to start small:

  • make a job listing on Craigslist for dog walking or babysitting
  • Take a walk down a small neighborhood with small businesses and ask for applications
  • Apply for jobs in corporate retail or in the food industry here (Ex: Chipotle, Blaze, Forever 21, etc): https://www.employmentguide.com/

 

Write down things that you enjoy within your job(s):

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Keep a journal during the job. According to the URMC Medical Encyclopedia, journaling everyday can “Help you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns”. This will help you choose your interests by process of elimination. Think to yourself, “What do I absolutely hate in this job?”

 

Stay inspired:

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“How do I stop hating people for being more successful than me?”

Don’t compare yourself to others. The comparison trap is your unrealistic perception of someone being more successful than you. At the end of the day, you don’t know what got them there. In an article for 99u by Laura Bacon, she offers an alternate way to approach someone else’s success by asking questions like, “What do I admire about them?”, “What are they modelling for me?”, or “What have they done to get where they are today?”

 

“Who am I?” tests:

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Maybe you’re impatient and giving yourself time to find your interests via jobs is not ideal. Aptitude tests are popular for all age groups and tell things about your skills that could otherwise go unnoticed by you. The website aptitude-test.com is one with an abundance of free tests ranging from verbal to quantitative skills. The Guardian created their own personality test. Once completed, there is a guide to help you take your results and apply them to a professional world scenario. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself that you never knew.

 

Breathe:

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BREATHE. Take things day by day and your path will soon become more defined.

“Thinking well of yourself is an act of kindness that pays enormous dividend.” – Louise Hay

Ela Suvak

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