This is College: Thoughts of a Peer Academic Advisor vol 4.7

Peer Academic Advisor: Lena Shalaby
Major: Biology
Class: Senior

I came into college thinking I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do in my college years. I knew that I was going to major in biology and psychology with a minor in religion studies, and was either going to apply to medical school or law school. Before I knew it, I switched schools, dropped the minor and psychology major, didn’t want to go to either medical school or law school, and I was exposed to so many new careers and majors and minors that I became overwhelmed with trying to decide what I wanted to do.

I grew up in an Egyptian-American family. Needless to say, parental and societal influences were a real thing. That being said, I felt that in order for me to make my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and…well you get the picture… happy, I had to either become and engineer, lawyer, or doctor. Well, I knew I did not want anything to do with engineering at all; I was exposed more to hospitals and the health world towards the end of my high school, so I thought I had a real interest in it; I thought I wanted to go to law school because I was naturally good at analyzing, critical thinking, and debating. But regardless of all those things, I did not find any of the life styles associated with those careers enticing at all. Long story short, I am in my FINAL year of college and I FINALLY figured out what it is I want to pursue. I am in love with the fact that I figured out the Intelligence Analysis community, and happy to say that I am able use my Biology major with a minor in Intelligence Analysis, and my Arabic skills to get me to my career.

I never thought I was going to be in love with a career choice; so how did I end up here? How can you end up here too? In a place where you can wake up and say “I cannot wait to take the next few steps to get started in my career”.
Well, here are a few steps you can take to help guide you in the right direction:

  • Get to know yourself, your passions and talents.
    • You have to evaluate and examine yourself.
      • First, ask yourself and write down the things you enjoy doing. Then, ask yourself why it is you enjoy doing those things. It could be because you like to help people in certain aspects; you like to analyze situations and come up with solutions; you like to take the lead, etc.
      • A fun self-examination game is to remember what kind of movies were your favorite, and favorite games to play. Believe it or not, if you think more closely and deeply about those small things, they can say a lot about yourself and personality. It might help you get to know yourself a little more.
    • Explore your options and know your resources.
      • Okay, how can I realistically know my options?
        • First, explore your school’s offered programs of study.
        • Second, explore your career options.
          • The first easy thing is obviously everyone’s favorite: google!
          • Second: The University Career Services Center here at Mason!
            • Look at the options presented to you and take notice of what pops up at you first or really entices you. Try to become acquainted with the required steps prior to reaching that career, once you have chosen a few of interest.

Some of the most important things to remember when choosing your career paths:

  • You are never “stuck” with a previous choice you made; there are always a different number of ways to reach your end goals. Detours, flexibility, and adaptability are a must in your journey.
  • Remember, people can influence your decisions, and maybe even help guide you, but, at the end of the day, you are choosing a path for yourself and something you enjoy.
    • This isn’t for your mother or father or friends and lovers. This. Is. For. You!
  • Prioritize your needs. What do you want to get the most of out of your career? Is it the money? Is it the work environment? Is it the vacation days? The amount of school done?
    • Remember: you want to choose a career that you think you will happily wake up to and genuinely enjoy. The money will always come later, because…

if there is a will, there is a way!