When I first stepped on campus at Santa Clara University, I truly had no idea what I wanted to study, let alone what I wanted to do after college. I entered my freshman year as an economics major, but deep down I knew that I was not truly passionate about the subject.
On a whim, I decided to take an intro physics class winter quarter of my freshman year to see what else was out there. I had enjoyed and excelled in physics back in high school but never seriously considered studying it in college.
But after that intro physics class at SCU, I was hooked. A couple of weeks into sophomore year, I filled out the paperwork to switch my major from economics to physics. I’m an inherently curious individual, so the switch to physics was perfect for me: it gave me an opportunity to learn about the world we inhabit, collaborate with some of the brightest and passionate people I have met, and develop important critical thinking skills necessary for solving complex problems.
After three years and many physics classes at Santa Clara, I remain happy with my decision to switch my major from economics to physics. However, with graduation looming over my head, I now face another decision. What’s next?
Moving From College to Career
At this point in time, the only thing I know for sure is that I do not want to pursue a higher education in physics. I greatly admire physicists who go into doctoral programs and devote their lives to research and teaching—but I’ve come to realize that that life isn’t for me.
The past two summers, I have been beyond fortunate to work as an intern on the Data Analytics team here at PayScale. In this position, I have been able to see firsthand how the critical thinking and quantitative skills I’ve developed in my classes can be applied outside the field of physics. While I enjoy studying electrodynamics and quantum mechanics, I am equally fascinated by the methods and models that PayScale uses to derive stories, insights and meaning from millions of rows of compensation data. Working for PayScale has no doubt been incredible and eye-opening, but my curiosity also makes me question what else is out there and what my next step should be.
Although the thought of graduating college without a clear career path in mind is somewhat intimidating to me, I know that there are many students out there in the same boat. To address some of the uncertainty people like me face in the coming years, this summer I will be taking a close look at the challenges new college grads have when starting off their careers.
Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing many industry leaders—both at PayScale and other companies in the Seattle area—to hear about their experience starting in the workforce and learn what strategies they have leveraged to plan and advance their careers. My hope is to share the knowledge I pick up from these interviews in a series of pieces here on PayScale’s Career News blog.
Be on the lookout in the next week for a write-up of my first interview with PayScale’s very own Scott Pogue!
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