JBBBSLA Scholar Guest Post: Your Major Doesn’t Define Your Career

We are pleased to share a guest post from JBBBSLA Scholarship Recipient and Lead Student Ambassador, Sophia Cohen. Sophia is a former Little in our Mentoring program and is a sophomore at UC San Diego, majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. 

The role of the Lead Student Ambassador is to connect current scholarship recipients so we can continue to build a strong sense of community through professional events and hangouts. I recently helped to spearhead our latest Scholar Community Hangout focused on the topic, “Your College Major Doesn’t Define Your Career.” It included five panelists who spoke about their experiences finding their true path after graduation (see their bios below). Planning and coordinating this event took several meetings with my fellow scholars, Matthew and Yessenia. We generated questions, planned a Q&A session, and even set up a raffle to make sure the event was not only engaging but informative as well.

In elementary school I got glasses and I thought eyes were the coolest thing. I was all set on being an eye doctor, until in high school I took a class on medical science. I quickly realized I could not spend years studying the human body and taking medical classes because they bored me. I then did a complete 180 and thought I should study political science in college because I always had a knack for history and was actually interested in politics. But, as the subject is so broad with so many different career options, I have yet to find my niche.

As someone who is confused and unsure about my future career goals, I found this particular panel to be especially interesting. Some of the panelists took time off from college, experimenting with their passions, and others obtained higher-level degrees completely different from their undergraduate degrees. As a Political Science student, I used to think my career options were limited to law, policy production, and elected office. However, the panelists changed that for me, showing that if you find yourself pulled in another direction, you can follow that new path to find a job that aligns more with your interests.

One panelist that stood out for this reason was Gabriella Klein, who now works as a project manager for a software company. Gabriella took a complicated route to this career, having worked as a pastry chef, then later returning to school to finish her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership. She then worked her way up and pursued a successful career as a Project Manager for a cloud software company. I liked Gabriella’s story because it made me feel more secure in the possible avenues I can take to reach my “dream” career. Even though I do not know what that is yet, I know that I have room for trial and error.

The panelists really stressed the importance of talking to as many people and finding guidance from working professionals in the field that interests you. I appreciate that JBBBSLA provides its scholar community with this opportunity, and I plan on taking advantage while I try to find my lifelong career. If I could offer other students any piece of advice from this panel, it would be to take your time and keep your eyes open. Don’t feel obligated to stay in your current position if it doesn’t make you happy, but also change doesn’t have to happen all at once. Even though post-graduation can be scary, it will be fun, as we all will find our paths after college.

Thank you for our panelists who shared their inspiring stories and personal insights regarding their educational and professional journeys:

Andrés Rapoport is a Senior Attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of LA County, a non-profit law firm that provides free services to low-income Los Angeles County residents. He obtained his B.A. in Sociology with High Honors from UC Berkeley, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Gabriella Klein left college after her freshman year to pursue her passion as a pastry chef for 2.5 years. She later went back to school to complete her B.A. in Organizational Leadership and worked her way up to her current position as a Senior Technical Project Manager for a cloud software company.

Jordan Sharf is the Co-Founder and Principal of Arileus Capital. Prior to founding Arileus, he worked as the Director of Acquisitions for a retail investment company, acquiring real estate investments and helping oversee their portfolio of over $100 million in total assets. He received his B.A. in Counter Terrorism and Conflict Resolution from the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel.

Dr. Joanne Valli-Meredith switched majors four times before eventually dropping out of UCLA during her junior year. She spent the next 15 years as a trend-designer and successfully launched a handbag manufacturing business. She eventually went back to UCLA to complete her B.A. in Political Science and pursued her doctorate degree in Higher Education and Organization Change. She is the Founder and CEO of BeyondAdmissions.

Zoe Rand is currently a PhD student in the Quantitative Ecological Resource Management (QERM) program at the University of Washington. She obtained her B.A. in Latin American Studies and minored in Music at Mount Holyoke. Immediately after graduating, she served as an AmeriCorps member working with immigrant parents of pre-school-aged children in Oregon. While this position was very rewarding, it showed her that many of her strengths and parts of her college major that she enjoyed were not directly translatable to a career. She eventually found her way back college where she took some social science classes that sparked her motivation to pursue a MSc in Marine Mammal Science at University of St. Andrews. As a PhD student now, she conducts research that involves analyzing historical data for large whales to assess impacts on sex ratios, in addition to a variety of projects on blue whales.

For questions or comments, please email studentambassador@jbbbsla.org. Learn more about the Student Ambassador Program by visiting our website.

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