Shannon Clark

In my opinion, one of the hardest questions you can ask a college student is “What do you want to do when you graduate?” Sure, that’s a pretty standard question when you’re studying in preparation for a career, but it always seemed to catch me off guard. I would respond with something that sounded general but promising, such as consulting or marketing. But I never really knew what I wanted to be, just that I wanted to be successful and happy.

Until recently I’ve never been comfortable with not knowing. To me that seemed a terrifying position to be in, to be so unsure of what my future would entail and how I would get there. That seemed to be a terrifying position for a college student to be in, especially at a school as large as BU where plenty of people know just what they want to do and how to accomplish it. It wasn’t until recently – just within the past few months – that I’ve grown comfortable answering my least favorite question of “What do you want to be?” with “I don’t know.”

I’ve always been in limbo in terms of career aspirations. One day I wanted to be a teacher, the next a lawyer, and the next a CEO. I wanted something that would make me successful and financially stable, and I gave little regard to any other aspect of my future career. Business seemed like the most practical option. After all, don’t they say you can do anything with a business degree? What better route for a person who has no idea what they want to be?

During my freshman year, my friend Nathalie and I would always talk about how difficult it was to be so unsure of our interests and futures. We considered every minor and every concentration, weighing the decisions thoughtfully and carefully, as though they would determine the rest of our lives. Then we began talking to Professor Randall about our concerns. He told us stories of former students who had pursued more uncommon careers after graduating from Questrom. They were able to blend their passions with the skills they acquired in Questrom in order to become both successful and fulfilled.

That conversation was much like a cheesy, metaphorical, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment for me. It led Nathalie and I to begin conversations with the alumni that had taken these alternative routes, these “Roads Less Traveled.” I started to feel that, not only was it okay to not know what I wanted to do, it was completely normal. The people we spoke with (who are featured on this website) had all done something different, something that appealed to their unique interests and strengths.

In college, it’s really easy to become trapped in a bubble, and to have a hard time seeing beyond graduation. But these conversations taught me to be less shortsighted and to look at all the possibilities that lie ahead. Not everyone discovered their passion during college. Not everyone discovered their passion immediately after graduation. But everyone eventually discovered what made them happy and found a career path that allowed them to work with something they valued, something that interested them, something they enjoyed each and every day. So now I feel comfortable telling people I don’t yet know my passion. I’m working towards finding it and I believe my business education will help to get me there.

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