I was that student who was always just all right at everything. I was okay at math and I was okay at English. On one hand, I knew I should be grateful that I never really struggled with a subject, but I was always a little bitter that I didn’t excel at any one thing. As you can imagine, it’s tough to choose a major when you’re just average at most subjects.
I decided to pursue business because I felt that understanding how a company operates and functions would be useful in every job. I figured that if I found my calling, I could always change majors. No big deal, right? Once I started school, I realized how hard it is to be surrounded by people who know exactly what they want to do, who have clear-cut goals and aspirations. My only goal was to figure out what I enjoyed, let alone how I would pursue it. My first semester was tough. I was struggling to figure out who I was, what I liked, and what my values were and all around me were students who had it all figured out. They all seemed miles ahead of me.
I asked myself if I wanted to be in business. I asked myself if I wanted to be at BU. And I just never had an answer. I was torn. I liked my classes, I was doing well, I got along with my friends, yet it just didn’t feel right.
I had a few points of clarity that first year, one during my general business lecture and another while registering for classes. When the first time, I was in class, surrounded by every other freshman business major. The lecturer was explaining the concept of company culture and used the Questrom School of Business as an example. All around me heads were nodding along with the example. Meanwhile, I was questioning everything I thought I wanted. Her description of the business school was the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted, and that really turned my world upside down.
I got back to my room after lecture and immediately began looking into transferring out of the business school. I felt like I had to get out of there. If those were the values of Questrom, how was I ever going to succeed? They weren’t bad values, they just weren’t my values.
The second moment of clarity came when I found myself planning out my next semester’s schedule under the assumption that I was seeking a finance concentration and an economics minor. If you know me even the slightest, you would know that the two subjects I hated since coming to school were finance and economics.
Why in the world was I pursuing them? The truth is that I picked them because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. In hindsight, that was a terrible reason but that was the combination that everyone told me was best and, because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, I was going with it. Even though I decided not to take those classes after all, the fact that I considered it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to do things because I thought it was the right thing to do. But I still didn’t know what I did want to do and that scared me.
It took me two years to realize that I shouldn’t be scared. Most people didn’t always know what they wanted to do. Not every business student wanted to go into the corporate world. ¬¬¬¬Plenty of Questrom alum take the road less traveled. It all seems so obvious now, but at the time I was convinced that I was the exception. Once I discovered that I wasn’t the only one, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t alone in my search for the unknown.
Soon after this, Shannon and I began interviewing alum, searching for their stories. Our conversations with these graduates were truly inspiring. Each and every one had a story to tell, and each one was different from the rest. But they all found that their time at Questrom helped them get where they are today. We began to realize that the road less traveled didn’t mean you embarked on an obscure journey (although there were plenty of those too). Even those that took what I had thought of as the road ‘more’ traveled had distinct experiences from the rest. Every person did things their own way based on their personal values and experiences, leading them down their own unique path. It dawned on us: there isn’t a right or wrong way.
This project wasn’t started to get you a job, to help you with your interview skills, or to choose your classes. This project was started to reassure you that you aren’t alone, you aren’t stuck in a box doing something you don’t want, you don’t have to know every answer. This project was started because when you’re lost, the most reassuring thing isn’t to be handed a map. It’s to have someone with you.
I know it’s a lot of clichés, but what I’ve realized is that they are true. Take a look and see for yourself. Who knows, it might be what changes your path.