Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Steps on climbing the career ladder

Published: October 31, 2014
Section: Opinions

A well-known mantra for college students these days is, “Do what you love and happiness will follow.” At first, this is a reassuring sentiment and it has semblances of truth to it. It is also a fact, however, that the world, and particularly the marketplace, is changing at an unprecedented rate. There are skills that are more in demand and will become increasingly more in demand in the workforce. Every now and then The New York Times or a magazine such as Forbes publishes an article relating to this. The articles usually consist of the bleak employment prospects for recent graduates, and then tries to reassure the reader in some subtle way that the world will always need philosophers and the like to tackle the most difficult queries of our time. While these are great sources for information, they unfortunately are overlooked by the average student who is far too busy. Nonetheless, it is crucial for everyone to be informed about what lies ahead and moreover what the status quo is.

The aim of higher education is often a point of debate. Many argue that the point of obtaining an education is to learn. Others point to the importance of specializing in a field that is currently thriving and secure. What happens all too often, though, is that when one adopts one of these views, the other side is neglected. The inherent problem in doing this is that you lose valuable information. Without such information you risk losing critical insight into the world, how the world is changing and most importantly, where it is headed. You then run the risk of making uniformed decisions about your future. But there is a very simple remedy to this problem—that is, being proactive and taking advantage of the opportunities you currently have.

One of the most important aspects of making decisions is to have a goal or a set of goals. This is not easy, but it is possible and often very useful. At first, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you have many different conflicting interests or maybe you are persuaded to follow something that you are not passionate about. This is obviously a complex and long process, but it will be sped up by making a genuine effort to garner as much information as you can about everything in a particular field or profession. If your dream is to be a physicist or environmental lawyer, there are steps that are obvious such as going to medical school or law school, and there are also steps that are not so definite. For example, what are the most important factors in applying? How crucial is getting work experience? How are the employment prospects for this field? The answers to many of these and questions similar to these are out there. The Hiatt Career Center has many of them and is always there to help. Similarly, the Internet has an abundant supply of resources that you can take advantage of. There are career fairs and visits by employers and graduate schools every week. On top of that there are plenty of opportunities to talk individually with professionals that are hosted by a specific department that are great for finding out more about what it is you may potentially do in the future. It is equally important to remember as well that none of this should preclude you enjoying your time in whatever you are doing. It is better to always be as informed and well-connected as possible, but these necessary steps need to be coupled with the true purpose of education: broadening your mind as much as you can.

It may seem premature to start worrying about the future, but by staying informed, being proactive and exploring, you are not worrying. Instead you are gaining valuable experience for yourself. In essence, you are preparing yourself for the real world. When that long-awaited time comes to walk the stage, you want to be confident and optimistic. No one wants to be panicking. By taking the requisite steps over the years, it will only prove beneficial. All too often, though, people and peers don’t stress this enough. The resources are vast and interminable. As daunting as some of them may seem, they are there to help.