Choice of major need not prove stifling to future path

My friends tell me I’m in denial.

I tried writing something sincere and poignant about Sept. 11, but given my ignorance on worldly affairs and the fact that I’m usually insincere to begin with, failure was the only option.

So after consulting one of my best friends, I decided instead that as I embark on my fourth and final year at UCSD, I’d pause to reflect on life after college. I wanted mainly to assess all the “”exciting and promising career opportunities”” available to social science majors that I was promised access to upon my graduation.

Most summers, I aimlessly wander around until something falls in my lap. However, last year proved difficult for me, and after some soul searching I decided to try to find a job.

This time, I decided that I would have motivation and a plan of action. I’m scarcely more qualified than when I graduated from high school, so I figured some real world experience would be good for me. I’m faced with the problem of not really knowing what I want to do with my life.

My brilliantly commonplace scheme started with my application to three places: Tower Records, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. The logic behind it was that I like four things: books, music, coffee and women. Since you can’t really specialize in women, I went with the other three.

Starbucks happened to be the only place hiring, and thus the only one that interviewed me. It made up for the lack of interviews elsewhere by sheer quantity. I had three interviews at one store before being sent to a different store for another interview.

Four interviews and two stores later, I had a job. My father meets with drug representatives and the most respected members of the medical community across the nation, and he had only two interviews.

I tend to hate anything too corporate, but I feel I have enough self-loathing to deliberately seek out a job I had already planned to hate. It was either Starbucks or the Gap. A few months ago, I was making jokes about Starbucks — now here I am, working for them.

Of course, corporate as Starbucks is, trainees had to go to a seminar called “”The Starbucks Experience.”” When we had to complete a written response (and no, I’m not kidding) about our on-the-job goals, I wrote, “”To provide exemplary service in the face of adversity, sheer danger and almost certain death.”” Really, would you want your barista to provide anything less? Later, I promised to give people correct change and not to pocket money from the register.

What I’ve discovered, contrary to the advice and guidance I’ve received throughout the years, is that your major doesn’t amount to all that much. It certainly doesn’t decide the course of your life or what you end up doing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve heard advisers harp on how your choice of a major will determine the rest of your life, but that’s rubbish. What you end up doing may be completely different than whatever major you pick out of the course catalog.

The friend I mentioned earlier is the perfect example — she graduated with an English major and now works at a video game company.

Employers seem to like the fact that you have a degree. They don’t necessarily care what it is.

The utility of a college degree is analogous to my experience in high school gym class. It doesn’t matter how good you are, just make sure you’ve given it some effort.

And what I’m discovering as I get closer to ending my collegiate years is that we’re not supposed to have it all figured out by the time we graduate. We have as much time as it takes. What the advisers don’t tell us is that after we graduate, we spend the next decade or so sorting it all out. We’re not supposed to have our lives micromanaged down to the last detail while we’re still in our twenties (or ever, hopefully).

As I start my senior year looking out from the counter at Starbucks, I have to repeat to myself, “”This is OK — this is how it’s supposed to be.””

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