“Do you ever feel confused or worried about why you chose your major?” Lianne Estrella, Student Life Intern majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering, reflects on the challenges of committing to a major and the importance of having a support system.
We all had to make decisions in our lives. Some decisions are as simple as where to eat, but some are complicated. How do we decide what major to go into? We can jot down our interests, choose our classes, and then declare a major. All we have to do is to do well in the class, right? Well, sometimes it’s not that easy. What if we don’t do well in our classes? Sometimes that makes us question why did I major in this again? Why is this class so hard? It makes us lose our motivation in what we’re doing. I’ve experienced this many times in my Math class, Statics class, Dynamics class…the list can go on, but the thing that has gotten my through this grueling process is my support system.
When hitting a bump in your academic world, you should always remember where your support system and how you can enlarge it. Whenever I felt frustrated and didn’t know what to do, I turned to my brother. “What should I do? I’m not doing well, my GPA isn’t the best, how can I even get a job later?!” It would be easy for him to just empathize with his little sister and say, “Everything is going to be fine, you’re a great person,” but he stepped it up a notch for me.
He referred me to his colleagues so I could email them and learn about their undergraduate experiences. Brian Staehlin shared his journey from Electrical & Computer Engineering to Economics and then finally into Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. I found out that Anh Thu, who was a Research Technician at Abbott, also volunteered in the Peace Corps. It gave me a new sense of clarity and empowerment, that whatever it is that I wanted to do in life, I could do it. There might be bumps in the road and turns in the path, but in the end, I’ll get to where I want to be.
I’ve learned how important it is to explore options within your major and start considering your plans after graduation. Where do I see yourself in the future? What other things do I still want to conquer? As a student, asking myself these questions help me find new ways to achieve those goals and gain support along the way. Through discovering more about myself and my major, I can expand my network. After being constantly challenged within my major, I just remind myself of my support. I AM NOT ALONE…and neither are you 🙂
Some networking resources:
- Career Services for L&S
- Badger Career Buzz (UW-Madison Career Services blog)
- Career Services for EGR
- MentorNet (e-Mentoring for diversity in engineering and science)
- Quint Careers Informational Interviewing Tutorial
A very special shout-out to Desiree Alva, Ligaya Estrella, Sean Carino, Brian Staehlin, Anh Thu, and my Posse for being part of my support system throughout my academic career. Who is in your support system? Who has empowered, motivated and helped you during your time as a UW-Madison student? Give them a shout-out here!