The Dreaded Question

By Shannon Sullivan, Business Administration ‘14

If there’s one question that can make a vast number of young people squirm, stutter, and do anything to change the topic to just about anything else in the world, it’s this one: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who seemed to have had it all figured out since you were a kid, you’ve inevitably been grilled by seemingly every one of your parents’ friends, and probably distant relatives you didn’t even know existed (stuffy holiday parties are fantastic for this).

Personally, I’ve changed my mind so many times and so quickly in my 22 years that my parents probably have whiplash. I blame it on having varied interests. Okay, maybe it’s also because I can be a pretty indecisive person…

There was the astronaut phase. The marine biologist phase. The engineer phase. The chemical engineer phase (hey, at least I narrowed it down a little there). The completely rational triple threat phase: actress, pop star, and fashion designer, of course (okay, maybe I still hold out a little hope for that one). The first female president phase. The forget school, I’m going to travel around the country/Jack Kerouac phase. And, well, you get the gist.

As I started my application for Florida Tech, I had narrowed my major choice down to psychology or chemical engineering. I went with psychology, decided it wasn’t for me after a semester, and changed to business because I felt it gave me the most chance for flexibility in terms of a career. I liked regular business administration. I liked the numbers, strategies, etc., but I could feel the creative part of my brain losing it a little. I took my first marketing class and felt a weight lift off my shoulders. It was the perfect mix of business and creativity, so I changed my major one more time, and now I’m set to graduate this spring.

I was happy to finally find a major that fit my personality a bit more, but I still wasn’t sure what I would do with it. After taking Dr. Cook’s hospitality and tourism marketing class, I thought that maybe doing the marketing for a major hotel chain would be a good fit (plus who doesn’t like discounted hotel deals). That idea worked… for a month.

Fast forward a few more months and I actually have it figured out now. Music has always been a passion of mine, so I’ve decided to pair with my undergrad degree and work in the music industry. I’ve applied to a few graduate music business programs, and plan on moving to either New York City or London this fall.

After years of debating and changing my mind, it feels good to finally have it all figured out. I’m now happy to answer the question that once filled me with so much anxiety. I know this is the right fit for me because there’s a sense of finality about it. I don’t question it like I did my other choices. Plus, when I told my family and some friends of my plans, none of them were surprised. They all seemed to know I’d wind up working with music in some capacity. Would have been nice if they had told me that a few years ago… ahem.

Long story short, if you’re reading this and are questioning your major or don’t know what you want to do with it, that’s perfectly okay. Movies, TV shows, and many adults in our lives have pushed it into our heads from such a young age that we have to have it all figured out ASAP, but you don’t. Take your time. Make sure you’re following a passion, and not just something that’s going to make your bank account look good, because at the end of the day, no amount of money is going to make spending 9-5 every day for the next 40+ years doing something you hate feel any better.

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