It seems to be that as degree-seeking students, the first question we get from people is “What do you want to do with it?” It certainly sounds simple. It’s something even 5-year-olds in kindergarten have mastered: “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor! I want to be a teacher! I want to be an astronaut!” But what happens when we find ourselves grown up and actually making these grown-up decisions? To me, and I suspect to many of you, grappling with this relatively simple question can feel quite daunting. We have already accomplished a lot by enrolling at the School of Public Health and deciding that we want to be future public health professionals. But once we have the degree and are done with school, it is necessary to have some idea of what we want to do and what we hope to accomplish in our career.
For me, the best way of getting closer and closer to “what I want to do with it” is taking classes that are interesting to me, speaking with people who share my interests to see what path they took, and taking a step back to see what I love doing. I have found myself gravitating toward health communication courses, so I have tried to create my own area of specialization by taking classes with that theme. But sometimes this process may involve doing something you don’t like to realize what it is that you love. And so bad experiences are not necessarily negative ones.
There are some students who know exactly what they want to do and where they want to work. But it’s okay to figure it out as you go and to discover where it takes you. I constantly think about what I want to do once I’m done with school, but I also try to focus on getting the breadth of knowledge that a public health degree offers and soaking in the experience of being a student.