Lauren’s Lounge: making the big decisions

Well, Maria was wonderful enough to give us interns a week off last week for National Stress Awareness Month, but as I accidentally took the rather stressful week before spring break last week off as well (sorry!), I have a lot to say this week! However, in the spirit of Maria’s mission last week to take a day off and do something fun, I’ll finish this entry by sharing a couple pictures from my spring break vacation. It was a really fantastic trip to four cities in three countries with several of my friends, and I definitely enjoyed having the chance for a week off from school before I head into the last six weeks of the program.

But first, in relation to National Stress Awareness Week, I’d like to talk about one of my own issues that is causing me a bit of stress right now. I think it’s pretty common, and it goes a little something like this: “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life!” One thing I’ve noticed with the other students in the program I’m in here is that so many of them have their post-college futures all planned out. One is going to grad school for education so she can teach English as a second language. One is going to work for a company she’s been interning with for the past few years. One is starting med school next year. And so on. While I am usually pretty chill about my indecision, I definitely admire my classmates for having such a clear vision of what they want to do.

Every once in a while I go into a little bit of a freak-out mode and think that I have to plan my entire future within the next 24 hours. That happened a bit recently when I started trying to figure out my schedule for next semester ahead of course selection and I realized: I’m going to be a senior. This is when people start taking the GREs and applying for graduate school. This is when people start making contacts and looking for jobs. I could be doing that too… if I had any idea what I wanted.

There are so many options: I could apply directly to grad school. I could get any job that would make some money and go to grad school a year after graduating college. I could try to get a job in my chosen field and then not have to think about grad school for a few years, if at all. I could see myself doing any of those things, but first I would have to narrow it down!

To be honest, I know that what I want to do is be a writer, but realistically I also know that I will have to do something else as well in order to make a living. But what? I like working with kids, so I could teach. I’ve thought about trying to work in publishing. I could always apply for jobs in journalism since that’s what I’m studying, and even if I’m not so into news writing working for a magazine would be awesome. But I still feel so much uncertainty, and it seems like such a big commitment. I’m not ready to be a grown-up! Remember being about 6 years old and thinking “I want to be a doctor when I grow up” and then a day later thinking “I want to be an actress when I grow up” and then a day later thinking “I want to be a mermaid when I grow up”? That’s me right now.

I know that I’ll figure it out; plenty of my friends who were in this situation last year are now about to graduate and have plans for jobs or grad school. I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens. But in the meantime, readers, how do you deal with stress from indecision? And if you’re dealing with a similar stress, here are some things I recommend:

  • Career fairs and grad school fairs: Most schools offer events for students to interact with people from various businesses or post-graduate education sources. You can talk to people from all sorts of fields in a short period of time, and it can be a great way to make contacts. To be honest, so far these have mostly helped me figure out what I don’t want to do, but that can be just as helpful in narrowing things down!
  • Job shadowing: Less intense than an internship, if there’s a career you think might appeal to you, find someone in that career and ask if you can follow them around for a day or two. Last year I shadowed an alum from my school who works at a radio station and, although radio journalism isn’t my field of interest, I learned a lot about the process of gathering and reporting news, and got some great advice about social media and particularly blogging.
  • Plan a dream: What I mean by this is that even if your ideal career seems unrealistic, getting more information might enable you to do it, even if it isn’t your main place of work or source of income. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a full-time novelist, but I am looking for career ideas that will give me the time to write on the side. At one career fair I attended, I spoke to a woman who works at a university and she told me that many employees there are artists as well. It’s a direction I had never really thought about, but it gave me something new to consider.

For those of you who have already been through this process, what is your advice!?

– Lauren Mateer
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Lauren here.

And now, here’re a couple of pictures of what I did last week on my spring break/blogging vacation!

Here I am at the East Side Gallery. It’s the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing, about 1.3km. It has been turned into a giant open-air gallery, with paintings by artists from around the world on the walls. I love history, so visiting Berlin was an amazing experience, even if the weather was cold!

Prague is definitely the most beautiful city I have ever visited, and one of my favourite places overall. There were so many different styles of architecture and so many interesting things to see. This is the view from Prague Castle. It was very rainy and cold for most of our trip (at least compared to Sevilla), but we were happy it didn’t rain today so that we could see the whole city!

I ate so much awesome food, and I was surprised how much vegetarian food I was able to find in two countries known for meat (I even got to try a vegan version of German sausage). Of course, finding foods without meat in them wasn’t a problem with dessert—this apple strudel I had one night in Munich was delicious!

On our last day before heading back to Spain, we took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. It is most famous for being Mozart’s birthplace and the setting for The Sound of Music. This is the abbey where Maria was studying to be a nun and where, in real life, she and the Baron were married.

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