I feel like this is a question that many of us ask ourselves sooner or later. Usually, we start university thinking that the course we got into and we were interested in, would be the right career path and we are passionate and excited! Then, 2 months in, we realise that may be we made the biggest mistake in our lives! I have to disagree! I think that going to university is a big undertaking and taking a course that turns out not to be something you are passionate about is so normal! Then, you can just switch and re-apply for a different course for next year….I know you might say it is a year wasted, but isn’t it better to spend one year doing something you released you don’t wanna do, rather than spending 3-4 more years doing it, only to never do it again once you graduate. It just doesn’t make sense. I have many friends who changed careers midway through their studies and they did fine in life. I think even trying something out just to understand it is not what you want to do, is perfectly fine, especially at such an early age!
Let’s say you did graduate and you were more or less happy with your studies, let’s say you enjoyed the social part of going to uni more than the study part (again, it’s totally fine!). Then, you go on to do you first internship, you work really hard to get it, because the competition is massive! Or, you simply don’t know what to do and you decide to do an internship anyway, or you decide to travel (well done on having savings to do that) because you need to figure out what to do next in your life! All these options are good, they will lead you on the path of finding what it is you actually want to do in life. Because I have news for you: the majority of us don’t end up doing what we studied, it is just what happens. Unless you did medicine or engineering, or something very specialised, there are very good chances you will end up working something different to what you studied or originally thought you would want to do. Even for law, I have tens of friends who did law and never ended up practising it or specialising, they just ended up with other jobs and have a Law degree (of course, having a good degree is always useful, but it doesn’t mean you would be using it accordingly).
Whatever you decide to do next, just go for it! Just give it a go and if you end up hating it, at least you will know it is not what you wanted to do in life! I can give you a very personal example with my own experience! I loved what I studied at uni – I did Politics, I always imagined myself working in the public sector, either at the Foreign Office or at the EU Institutions. Well, I did long-term traineeships at both the Foreign Office and the European Commission in Brussels, and, even though I am absolutely grateful for the opportunity and experience, it just made me realise I do not want a career in the public sector! Shocking right?! I had the profile, background and everything….and when I was there, I just realised it wasn’t for me…..I also did various experiences in different fields in the private sector and I realised the private sector is what suits me better: a driven, fast-paced and dynamic environment…I am still loving it, haven’t looked back! You just have to find what floats your boat.
I can give you another example: during my Master’s degree, I did focus on cultural studies, because I thought I was very passionate about it, having lived in numerous countries, having friends from various backgrounds, it was always something that fascinated me, so I focused more on it during my studies. I even did my Master thesis on EU multi-cultural policies, and guess what?! As soon as I was done, and even before finishing the thesis, I had come to the conclusion that I like the topic and everything but I do not want to work in that field. Shocking again right?! Then, what do you do….back to basics, not knowing what to do! My advice is just follow your gut. Take few months off on reflecting if you can afford it, get a temporary job just so you can make a living while thinking about your next step, move to wherever you’ve always wanted to go back to – which is what I did – and just see how you feel. Three months later, I had a better idea of at least what I do not want to do and I started looking for something new that would excite me. And, destiny or not, I found it. I went back to my home country where I knew I would get many more job opportunities than abroad, and I applied, I got accepted into all of them, and I just went for the one I really wanted. Then, 3 positions/companies later, I am finally doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do all along, I just didn’t know how to get there. So, this whole path to getting where I feel happy and where I wanted to be all along (not knowing it) took me altogether 10 years, if we count from the first year of uni, when I was 18 years old! It is a long path to go on and you have to be persistent, to go back up when you fall (which will inevitably happen, there will be many failures and disappointments along the way), to be proactive and never settle and sooner or later you will get where you were meant to be all along! I want to emphasise on the settling thing though. I know many people, even some of my close friends, who do not have the guts to go into the unknown or to take an exciting opportunity because it sounds too scary or they think they can’t handle it! And, so, they settle for the convenient old job that they’ve had for a while, where they have nothing new to learn and where they are not happy but change simply scares them….I get it, but I have to say if you are too scared to go into the unknown, you will never be successful! So, it is your choice in the end of the day….how far you’re willing to go to get to that happy place 😊 but if you push through and get there, I promise you, it would’ve been all worth it 😊