The world sometimes makes us feel like we are supposed to pick a path our freshman year of college and stick to it. “Don’t waiver” they say, “you’ll waste too much time, just stick it out”. I’m going into my junior year of undergrad and let me tell you, this gets clearer every day. With more than half of graduates not finding jobs that fit their skill level-- they want me to focus directly on my career or further education over what I am actually passionate about. But who are they?
Mentor Jonalyne Walker makes it clear that you do not have to stay on a path if it does not feel right. In fact, she makes the case that switching paths and holding varying positions makes you a better person. As a double major in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies, my life path is not predetermined. I am taking Jonalyne’s advice (as you should too) in order to find the career I am most passionate about.
Jonalyne is currently the HR manager at Mindgrub Technologies but she didn’t start on that path, in fact, she says that she “fell into it”. She began her journey at the University of Maryland on the pre-med track. After some reflection, she felt that it just didn’t mesh, so she switched her major to psych. She envisioned her future in labs doing research and began working in a lab in her final two years of school. By the second year, Jonalyne decided that she did not see herself doing this forever. So, she tried out nursing school but didn’t feel that was right either.
Her journey brought her to the recruiting space of an HR department where she fell in love with her job. She, “loved the interaction between candidates and employees, and getting to know the teams, and trying to staff the teams, building the company from the back end.” This brought her to her current position as a team leader of the HR department.
Jonalyne doesn’t regret her career path. She advises that you “follow your heart” and “go with what you feel is right for you, especially when you consider things you enjoy doing”. But she is also not oblivious to the obstacles that changing career paths holds. She knows that “that leap is a little scary” she doesn’t think that should stop anyone from trying because “it’s also exciting at the same time.”
And it worked out for Jonalyne. Despite the fact that she claims to have stumbled into HR, she heads a department now. If she did it, you can too. She also did not forget what was true to her. When she worked hard and rose to the head of HR, she continued to work towards D&I, even when the company was small and it proved to be difficult. She encourages you to speak to HR and managers if you feel that D&I is lacking, present the issue and come with a possible solution to maximize the chance of your initiative coming true. Keep in mind, “it says a lot for the employees as well to bring up these different ideas or thoughts around some of these things specific to diversity and inclusion”.
You cannot figure out what you don’t like if you don’t try it first. You may find yourself hating something you worked years to get to or loving something you were positive was just going to be to pay the bills. Let what you feel guide you.
“Go with what you feel is right for you, especially when you consider things you enjoy doing”-Walker
Take this advice from Jonalyne seriously. It is important for your own satisfaction, but also for your productivity to love what you do. It will make you a better employee and it will make you a happier person. Learn about what to do when you find this success, especially if you find yourself at it alone.
I know that I will continue to foster my interest that will not lead to jobs or law school. Rather, I will try different experiences and see where my passions and skills lie. In fact, that is one of the reasons I picked interdisciplinary majors. I love that fact that I can take Jurisprudence, Queer Looks: Trans People in Film, Calculus, World Politics and Western Civ all in one year. My interests are varied, so my classes should be too! In order to feel successful, it won’t matter if I make six figures, am the head of a department or tried a case and won. If I do not love what I do, I will never feel successful. Jonalyne and advice from our other wonderful mentors have taught me these lessons that I hope to hold true.