Is it essential to have a career path in mind when starting university? Can a strict plan for your career prospects become damaging? It’s a tricky question, but from my own experience, I can say I’ve learned that the answer is this: having a career path in mind is great, but learning to be flexible with your life plan is even better. University is filled with a ton of unexpected twists and, until you begin your degree, you may not know if the course you’re on is really the one for you.
I began university as a Computer Science student. I was so excited to begin my degree. I am notorious for being one of those people who likes to plan everything, and my career path was no different. I was set on my course, the job I wanted when I graduated, and even where I would live. People would constantly tell me how lucky I was to know exactly what I wanted to do with my life – but I soon learnt that that wasn’t really the case.
I was so set on what I wanted to do with my life that when I realised that computer science just wasn’t what made me happy, I was upset. Would I disappoint my parents? What would my friends think of me? And most importantly: what the hell was I going to do with myself? I never gave myself enough flexibility to think “what if” and because of that, I was stuck. I was coming to the end of my first year of university, on a course I didn’t like anymore, with no idea what I wanted to do. This plan I had so meticulously made for myself was suddenly out the door.
I later decided that the best course for me would instead be Mechanical Engineering. It combined all of the subjects I loved into a single course, and the crazy thing is: had I not been so set on this ‘life plan’ I had created for myself, I may have realised long ago that this was really the course for me. I’ve now completed my second year of the course and I couldn’t be happier. I have finally found something I wanted to do. Do I still make career plans? Of course. But do I allow myself to be open to other possibilities? Certainly.
So when you worry if you should have a strict career path in mind when going to university, all I can say is this: be flexible, because things do change. If things don’t go to plan, it’s often for the better. Of course there are certain aspects of your degree to keep in mind, but nothing is worst than being stuck in a plan that’s not you anymore! Enjoy every bit of university: the ups, the downs and the unexpected twists!