In college, it starts to feel like we’re defined by our majors. Your major is one of the first things people ask you about, sometimes it determines where you live on campus, and it definitely decides which classes you take and the people you meet. But the reality is, usually, our majors only represent a small part of who we are and what we’re interested in. Most of us have different passions outside of school and, if we weren’t in college, might be pursuing a completely different career. I decided to ask various freshmen at my school, Central Michigan University, what some of these careers might be. I took two pictures of each student I interviewed. In the first picture, each person held up their major(s), and in the second, they held up what they would be doing with their lives if they weren't concerned with earning money or going to school. This is what these students said:
Major: Elementary Education
Dream Job: Writer
Majors: Mathematics and Political Science
Dream Jobs: Dancer and/or owning a food truck
In college, students start thinking about a future and the natural step is to look for a career that will support them and (maybe) one day, a family. This means putting aside their more fantastical dreams and choosing a practical major to guide them along a path of success. For a lot of people, even if their major is something that could lead them to their dream job, they still don’t see it as something in-reach. It's a fun idea to think about, but they don't believe that they would seriously be able to achieve it because it seems so idealistic.
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Dream Job: Working in an ice cream shop by the ocean
Majors: Biochemistry and Philosophy
Dream Job: National Geographic Photographer
Brendan Matney, a freshman at Central Michigan University, brings up the famous National Geographic photographer, Galen Rowell, as an example of someone who happened into their dream job. Rowell studied physics in college, but dropped out and used his free-time to become a photographer for National Geographic. Brendan says, "we would all be following paths toward the careers we actually want if society didn't influence us so much." Social norms make students think the only way to succeed in life is to pursue a, “smart,” “practical” job, whether it's a job they really want, or not. When students realize that they can choose a different future than the conventional career paths that society encourages they have more freedom to explore what they are excited about and aren't confined to the mindset of putting practicality before passion.
Dream Job: NBA Player
Dream Job: Mom
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Dream Job: Boat Captain
George Sawaya, a freshman at Central Michigan University, talks about why people don't usually go after their dream jobs. He says, "families put pressures on kids to go through their lives stressing out about getting a good degree that will lead to a job where they make money. It becomes cookie-cutter: everyone does these jobs that they think they have to. People work so hard to climb up these hills because that's what they're supposed to do, but they never realize they can let go and go with the flow." It's important for students to realize that if they worry less about the specific details of the future and just keep pursuing what they enjoy, they'll still eventually get to where they need to and, more importantly, want to be.
A person's ultimate dream also tells a lot about them that their major might not. Where a major in science or math might explain their talents, a dream job shows a more fun, carefree side of people. It shows what makes them happy and what they would be doing if they had no limits.
Majors: Economics and Computer Science
Dream Job: Investment Banking
Dream Job: Working at Disneyland
Dream Job: Best-Selling Author
In the end, many people find a way to follow their dreams through their majors. Just because a student is practical doesn’t mean they have to give up on every idea that makes them excited about life. Some of these dream jobs would make great summer jobs. Some of these dream jobs might even end up as a reality for people.
The main goal is to always make sure you're happy. Whether it's your dream job or the job you're heading toward with your major, make sure your passion is there. Doing the things you love is what makes life worth living, and college is a great time to start figuring out what some of those things might be.
Lead Image Credit: Isabella Barricklow