I don’t think many people would argue with me when I say that college is a pretty confusing time. We’re trying to figure out social lives, grades, sports or clubs, and a multitude of other things. We’re figuring out who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives, and somehow we are supposed to do all this as early as 17 or 18 years old. I’m only two and a half months out from graduating, and I still get confused sometimes. Figuring out what you want to study and what you want to do after you have a degree in your hands is intimidating. Luckily, we have help.
In my sophomore year, back during the Prehistoric Era, I was a little lost. Actually, I was extremely lost. I had been studying mechanical engineering for a year and a half, and I was having doubts. All my older friends in the program assured me that if I got through the “weed-out” classes in my first year that I would start enjoying it more. I had made it through these, and I even had good grades. I should have been pretty confident in what I was doing, but in reality, I had never been more unsure. I didn’t enjoy the work I did; I woke up every day and went through the motions, never looking forward to my courses or what was to come after I completed them. Let me say, briefly, that our mechanical engineering program is phenomenal; I loved all of my professors, and they do amazing work. It just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t passionate about engineering. I needed to find what I was passionate about.
Around this time, I had been taking Principles of Advertising as an elective, for which I was making some short videos. I realized while working on assignments for that class that they brought me more satisfaction and genuine joy than any engineering assignment ever had, and I realized I needed a change. This was when, at the suggestion of my academic advisor, I wandered into the Bausch and Lomb Building and made an appointment with one of the career counselors, Carolyn DeHority.
As Carolyn described to me, when she or one of her colleagues first meets with a student they spend that hour-long appointment discussing what is important to them. This involves talking about your interests, skills, family, and many other things. It may sound a little overwhelming, but Carolyn says most students find “that it was less difficult to talk about themselves than they had anticipated.” This was certainly the case for me; talking about what you’re passionate about is extremely freeing, especially when you’re sitting across from someone who genuinely cares. After this first appointment, you and your counselor work together to determine next steps, which could be anything from a personality assessment to referrals to advisors, department heads, or even professionals in the field.
This is why Carolyn describes herself as “part counselor, part coach, and part librarian.” She and her colleagues listen, guide, and help students locate useful resources. They never push a student in a particular direction or tell them what to do; rather, they help them through the process of figuring it themselves.
The career counselors meet with any and all students, from those who have no clear idea of what they want to do, to those who already love their majors but are unsure of what to do with them, or what to minor in, etc. Carolyn says it’s important for students to know that it’s okay to be unsure of what they want to do. It’s not uncommon, she says, for students to question what they are doing, and possibly even end up changing their major or at least gather more information about possibilities available to them. Most students will have between one and four meetings with their career counselor; it just depends on their specific needs.
If you, like so many of us have, are having some doubts or questions about your future path or just want to learn more about options available to you, you should definitely consider career counseling here at RIT. If you’re hesitant, rest assured that everything that’s said in meetings is kept confidential unless a students explicitly gives a counselor permission to talk to others, such as professors or advisors. Most importantly, remember that the counselors are really just genuinely good people who love helping students. Carolyn says that she loves what she does because “it is rewarding to reduce students’ stress about their future by helping them to find a major or occupational direction that is a good fit for them. Hope for the future is a wonderful thing to have, and if I can help contribute toward that for a student, it feels good.”
Like I said, they’re really amazing and genuine people. Carolyn helped me immensely when I met with her back in 2016, and I know she and her colleagues can and will do the same for many of you.
If you would like to set up an appointment, you can do so by calling their office at 585-475-2301 or through Handshake at https://rit.joinhandshake.com/