“You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.” Our parents, grandparents and teachers all gave us these encouraging words at one point, if not several times, during our childhood. Were they right? Absolutely! However, you were probably thinking about being an astronaut or a teacher instead of saying, “I want to be a Financial Aid Advisor,” or “I want to be a Hall Director for a college.” Most of us probably had not even considered a career in Higher Education until we had some kind of experience during our undergraduate degree that stuck out to us. For me, it was my three years working as a student in the Office of Admissions at Florida State University.
However, the story doesn’t begin there. I went to school for Hospitality Administration. I wanted to be an event planner / manager and man was I good at it! I graduated with the honor of being a Management Intern with Walt Disney World and spent a year and a half throwing spectacular events across all four theme parks. Hello dream job! Why did I give it up? Well, although I loved it and worked hard to get there, the schedule wasn’t conducive for starting a family. I was working nights and missing out on social events with my family and friends. My life became about work. Well, I decided to make the career change to K-12 Education despite my five total years of experience within the event industry. At the time I had thought the schedule would be better. However, Elementary Education was horrifyingly time consuming. Instead of working just nights, I was working day and night. Although I loved the kids, High School was a much better experience. The schedule was better, and I was able to help my high schoolers apply for college and teach them more life skills.
This is where I realized, at the age of 28, that I wanted to make a second career change to Higher Education. I was helping all these teenagers with their college applications but was so curious about whether they would be receiving support during their time in college since they needed so much support just to get there. I thought back to my three years in Admissions where I made some lifelong friends and I knew that without my time there, I would not have enjoyed my undergrad experience as much. I decided I wanted to make that happen for other kids. There is where that oldie but goodie came into my mind, “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.” Well, I’m grown up, but I’m still figuring out what I want to be, AND THAT IS OKAY! Is it absolutely terrifying that after putting five years into one career and six into another that I am ready to move on again? Absolutely! However, why not keep changing until I am satisfied with my career?
That is my message for you. You do not have to have it all figured out all at once and you can change what you want to be as many times as you want. How many of us are full on grown-ups anyway? We are all a kid at heart about something so technically we have not yet grown up and still have time to figure out what we want to be. All it takes is one experience to change your perspective on what the right career for you might be. Utilize your academic advisor, attend meet and greets, or take your professor out to lunch to ask about their work history. Do multiple internships, even if your program only requires one. You are not limited to one career in Higher Education and you have so much time to branch out and discover how you can best serve your institution and your students. After all, isn’t it all about giving the students your best self? How can we tell our students that they can be whatever they want when they grow up if we limit ourselves by settling for something we don’t enjoy? “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.” That sentence is an oldie, but definitely a goodie.
Author: Marianna Romany (she/her/hers) is a first-year graduate student at the University of Central Florida and is a member of both NASPA and NACADA, with goals of transitioning from a career in K-12 Education to either Advising or Conduct within Higher Education. She loves crime shows / documentaries, traveling, Disney, planning / hosting events, eating all the food, baking desserts, and being an extrovert! On a typical day, you will most likely see her shopping on Amazon or watching Law and Order. Jack McCoy is always right. Marianna’s portfolio can be found at https://mromany.weebly.com. Connect with her on LinkedIn!