If I had one piece of advice to give my first-year self, it would be to be open to different things.
I came into college thinking I wanted to be an econ major. I took the intro course and it turned out not to be my cup of tea, which made me nervous, because I thought I had a clear plan of how I wanted to graduate from Bryn Mawr. I made a slight adjustment to my plan and decided to explore international studies, which involved some econ but not only econ. Then I took my intro to computer science to fulfill my scientific investigation requirement, and it clicked for me in a way that econ never did. The following semester, I took intro to linguistics on a whim, because it seemed like all my friends from my clubs were linguists and I wanted to see what all the rage was about. I saw what the rage was about. I’m now a computer science and linguistics double major. Who woulda thunk?
I wish that I did more exploring as a first-year and even as a sophomore, instead of locking myself on the path of an economist. I’m not gonna lie, scheduling courses throughout my junior year was quite stressful because the credits I had accumulated towards my supposed econ/international studies major didn’t really count for anything in the end as I was now a computer science and linguistics double major.
You’d think that being open to different paths would be an obvious choice to make, especially since we’re all here for the liberal arts education and have a more holistic outlook on life yadda yadda. But another thing we are are achievers. We have clear goals in mind. Which is an excellent strategy most of the time. But it can also blind us.
Your first year is definitely a year to explore. You have time. Use this time to figure out what you want, even if you think you already know what that is. You need to get those college-wide requirements out of the way anyway 😉 Who knows, you might find something better!
Now I’m at another crossroad. Once I decided I was a computer science and linguistics double major, I started looking for software engineer internships for the summer. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do as a computer science and linguistics double major, right? But I found this very difficult, and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered I was having so much difficulty finding a software engineering internship because I wasn’t interested in being a software engineer, despite being a computer science and linguistics double major.
Again, what I thought I wanted turned out not to be what I wanted. If I had taken the time to explore other options, I might have discovered what it was I did want.
So now as a senior, I’m challenging myself to intentionally look for non-software-engineer jobs that align with my interests and my skills. And I challenge you to try something new as well.