What are you going to do with that degree?

How I Feel at Career Day, pictured second to the left.

Hi. My name is Ashley. I’m almost 27 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow. Did I mention that I am also a Ph.D. student? Yep, and I’m a year away from being halfway through my program. Things are continuing to feel more real (as if the stress from grad school wasn’t already palpable enough). It makes some sense to assume that I would have a better idea of what kind of career I would like. After all, I am out of the formal work force and have endless tools available to search for viable career path. I’ve also already have done the difficult task of picking a field that piques my interests and passions. So, when my family, friends, colleagues, or passersby ask, “What are you going to do with that degree?” the question shouldn’t give me a slowly creeping sense of dread.

Now, this isn’t a post about scaring people out of applying to a doctoral program. The skills and knowledge I have been able to attain have been incredible so far. I’m talking about that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I need to decide and plan out the rest of my life in order to feel content. The issue is that right now I honestly couldn’t give a straight answer of what kind of career I would like. The upside of the matter is that I have resolved my self to the fact that a lot of people are in my position. Plans are just plans. The real trick is leaving yourself open to new possibilities along the way.

I’m picking up bits and pieces of the puzzle as I broaden my experiences professionally and personally. To some this might sound like an obvious track of thought. But as a professional worry-wart, I can tell you that it is a process. My time with the Siemer Institute has offered me insight into another path I can take. I don’t have to decide what to do with the insights yet, but I have more experiences to help me eventually decide what I’m going to be when I grow up.

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