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A Letter to FHE Seniors: Choosing a College Major and Career Path

Dear seniors of FHE, 

As the deadline for college applications arrives, students everywhere are tasked with deciding what their college major is, ultimately foreshadowing their future in the workforce. Despite the pressure placed upon young people to pick and stick to a field of interest, a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that “only 27% of college graduates work in a field related to their major.” While some careers (such as those in the medical field) require early decision and commitment to a specific job, many degrees leave students with endless opportunities. In that case, how should students choose what to major in? More specifically, how can we help students find their path into a career? To find out, I interviewed adults within the FHE community and uncovered their path from education to the workforce. 

Doreen Barnes is an English and journalism teacher at FHE; however, she began her college education majoring in chemical engineering, with the intent to develop “cosmetics, perfumes, etc” in a future career. In her sophomore year of college, she was approached by her calculus teacher who warned her that engineers “work alone usually in small offices.” In a moment of realization, she decided to change majors. She completed her college career majoring in English and minoring in math and business, also receiving a teacher certification. Barnes then went on to earn a masters in Education Leadership and Public Relations. While her path to her current career was not exactly linear, she was able to discover her role in the workforce “out of [her] love for reading and words,” which led her to study English at a deeper level. She advises current seniors in the midst of their college application to “take classes that sound interesting,” and “to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people and to learn new ideas.”

Varsity Cheer Coach Brittany Boomers graduated from FHE in 2015. Early in high school, she believed that teaching was the career for her; however, after a job shadowing experience she discovered it was not the path she wanted to continue on. She entered college undecided on her major, choosing to “explore psychology, statistics, and computer information systems” before choosing to double major in finance and marketing. Boomers is currently in the supply chain industry, which she claims “mostly” aligns with her degrees, and has her “actually using what [she] learned in college.” Her biggest piece of advice is that students should talk to their professors and build relationships with them, since they can ultimately be good resources throughout your career. “One of my professors is almost directly responsible for getting me my job,” she stated. In addition, Boomers advises students to “try to speak to a student at the schools you are interested in,” and to ask them about “guidance counselors, the class registration process, the professors, programs, and extra curriculars” since colleges only show “their best” during tours. Specific to FHE, Boomers claims that “AP Lang. and AP Lit. are by far the most beneficial classes that prepared me for college.” DECA also helped Boomers, as it sparked her interest in business.

Tim Brewer works as a sales engineer for a packaging company. Even in high school, he knew he would pursue a career as an engineer. His college plans changed minorly “in name but not in function.” After graduating with a degree in packaging, he went on to earn a masters degree in Operations Management. Brewer dedicated time to finding his ideal fit in the workforce, and even pursued jobs that had no involvement with packing, all in the name of finding out which work environment would suit him best. While his current job does include packaging, he included that it is “not the same type of packaging I learned in school.” School taught him “food packaging and packaging testing,” rather than the automotive packaging he works with now. He believes that high school gave him exposure to “skills that come naturally and finding a career that uses them.” His advice to seniors and high school students who are considering college is to “worry less about where you go, and more about what you do when you get there.” 

After uncovering the paths that each of these individuals took to reach their current career, it is clear that high school students should not be expected to know what they will pursue in the future. All of the interviewees altered their original major in some way, while continuing to develop their meandering career paths even after graduation. To seniors and anyone worried about how their future will unfold, reflect on this advice and follow your interests.

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