It’s never too late to change your career plans

Making the switch does not betray your previous self

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Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

By Katherine Kelly-Coviello, Collegian Columnist

Here’s the secret no one tells you: it’s never too late to change your major. Or your career. Or, in my case, the goals and plans I had for my entire career – and no one told me this until I actually did it.

I grew up going to museums every chance I got. Some families go to sporting events or play together, my family went to museums. By the time I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to work in a museum when I got older. I decided on a career field in high school: museum curation. I wanted to be the person who researches and designs the exhibits in museums. And now I want to work in public relations. So, what happened?

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to change my major and my entire career trajectory; but looking back, I should have known I would make the switch. I was always interested in writing and in the field of marketing and communications – even when I was an art history and anthropology double major, all my extracurriculars and internships dealt with writing and advertising. The only thing that didn’t match was my major. There’s nothing wrong with having experience in a different field than your major, but once I realized the disconnect, it didn’t make sense to continue on a path that led to my old dream of museum curation and a PhD when I knew what I really wanted was completely different.

Still, even after I made up my mind, it was hard to convince myself to actually make the change. Even after I had worked out all the logistics and knew I could still graduate on time, I was nervous. Switching into a different major as a junior was challenging to say the least. Realizing that I would have to take 100-level courses while my friends are complaining about their 300-levels was hard enough without the worry that accompanies a major life change: am I making a huge mistake? Should I have just stuck with my anthropology major? Would it really have been that bad?

The answer is yes. It would have been that bad, because I wouldn’t have been making the choice that aligned with what I really wanted out of life. Anthropology and art history were setting me up for an interesting career, but one where I would have to go to school for at least six more years, travel constantly, and probably end up teaching, which I definitely don’t want. And yet I still felt this guilt, because that’s what I had wanted for so long.

To anyone thinking it’s too late to change their major, take my advice and make the switch. I’ll admit I was lucky to change my major without pushing back my graduation date, but it would have been worth it either way. Pouring so much effort into a degree and eventually a life that you don’t even want is never worth it, even if it means you need to study for an extra year. In my case, most of my worry and guilt came from the fact that I wanted to be an art historian for most of my life, and now I was changing my life plans completely. To anyone in this position, wondering if they should make the change but feeling like they’re letting themselves down, you don’t owe your past self anything. If you wanted something five years ago, cherish it as exactly what it is: a part of who you were that allowed you to become the person that you are.

It can be hard to make a choice that diverges from the person you once thought you’d be, but it’s always worth it. Some people see it as a sign of indecisiveness; that someone can’t make up their mind about anything, not even their goals for the future. I disagree. Changing your mind about major life decisions like your education or career – even if it seems to others to be someone veering off course at the last second – is actually an incredible sign of growth, and a sign that you know yourself well enough to leave what no longer serves you.

The moral of the story: next time you tell yourself that you have to stick it out with a major you hate, check in with your advisor. There might be more space in your course schedule than you think. Besides, it’s never too late to make a change that aligns with your new dream.

Katherine Kelly-Coviello can be reached at [email protected]