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Doubting your career choices near graduation? Here’s why an expert says you shouldn’t stress.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

Graduation is a pretty terrifying milestone for college students, it essentially means change that some people don’t feel ready for — especially if they’re unsure about their career path.

If this is your last semester before graduating, or you recently graduated and feel like you wasted college studying something you’re not passionate about, you’re not alone.

Social media has definitely pressured us into making our lives feel perfect every day. With Instagram, TikTok and other social networking apps, it’s easy to compare our lives as college students who’ve dedicated years of our time to classes, exams, and jobs while influencers in their twenties seem to be financially free by traveling the world or making comedic videos.

It makes us desire the perfect job that makes us happy and keeps us financially stable as soon as we graduate. But it may be an unrealistic reality for a graduating Gen-Z in this economy, leading us to feel disappointed with our outcomes.

Merceydes Morassi is a licensed mental health counselor, board-certified behavior analyst and certified integrative mental health professional that specializes in holistic counseling.

She explained why students may start to worry about their careers or question their passions as graduation approaches.

“I think any time we are in a position to make big life decisions we may feel an influx of negative emotions such as doubt, fear, ambivalence, etc.,” Morassi said. “That’s because these decisions have real-life consequences and have the potential to affect our future, but because the future is uncertain, we have no idea what kinds of impacts those will be. We do know that the impact will likely be big as it requires change in multiple aspects of our lives. That’s what is scary.”

According to the counselor, social media can also be responsible for leading people to hate their current careers by comparing them to others’ “simpler” lifestyles.

“I hate social media on so many levels. Whether it’s telling us about beauty, relationships, or our jobs, it is painting the picture of roses when life isn’t like that,” she said.

Morassi claimed that very few people love every single aspect of their jobs, but still, people have the choice every day to either focus on the things they love about their jobs or on the things they hate.

Mindset is truly what dominates your mood and your actions on a daily basis.

“Neither your job nor your relationship should be your sole source of joy or inspiration. For example, if you have a musician’s soul but an engineering degree, you are unlikely to find fulfillment in any one area. So go out and find the engineering job that is best suited for you, one that stimulates the part of your brain that likes challenges and solving things and then play guitar in a band on weekends.”

The reality is, that even though you chose a major four years ago, it doesn’t mean that you’ll feel passionate about it by the time you’re graduating. I learned that you are not stuck with what you’re doing now or stuck with the degree you attained after four years or more, especially if it doesn’t drive you anymore.

During my time in college, I first majored in digital journalism, which is just reporting and writing articles. But I started questioning whether I see myself writing news articles for the rest of my life, on top of feeling like I chose a dying career because of technology and artificial intelligence. It then led me to switch to broadcast journalism, since I thought I liked multimedia and visual stories more than just writing.

When I became a columnist at FIU’s student newspaper, I realized how much I love sharing information about health, mental health issues and wellness, which led me to pursue a minor in psychology. Yet after all those changes, I still question what field I see myself working in for the rest of my life and with my graduation creeping up, I felt pressured to figure out which field I want to work in after college.

Students easily get anxious and rush themselves to make their dream life happen as soon as they’re in the “real world” because that’s how we may see it online. What Morassi wants them to know, is that “there is no clock.”

“The clock is in your head. Give yourself some time to figure it out, not five years or anything crazy, but maybe one,” she said. “You need a timeline in order to motivate some productivity, but set a realistic and forgiving timeline. Trying to rush or keep up with someone else’s timeline just adds unnecessary pressure.”

College is a time for you to discover what you like to do; we come in with the wrong notion that we have to know by the time we apply to college. I started discovering the different fields of the media industry, which allowed me to learn what I do and don’t like.

There are several factors that can compel someone to stay within a job or field: money, freedom, security, potential for growth, power, status, or social aspects.

Based on what drives you to choose your career, this is what Morassi would advise:

“If the person I was speaking to was highly motivated by money, I would tell them to find a hobby that can bring them joy. If the person was not motivated by money, say they were motivated by having a supportive social environment… If they can’t find that in their current job and they can’t build it there, then they need to bounce because it would be foolish to stay there,” said the counselor. “To me, that equals misery.”

It’s completely normal to still be applying around or stuck at an entry-level job that sparks absolutely nothing in you, not everyone will get the perfect job straight after graduation. If you’re at a job you hate, stick with it for a while until you save up money and can start fresh doing something you’re passionate about, yet financially stable enough to live comfortably.

Take every experience as an advantage to learning more about yourself, your passion and your goals.

Stressing out a lot, especially about something important like career choices and changes, can trigger poor mental health issues as well as physical health — so it’s best to learn how to manage this anxiety to prevent it from taking over your life.

“Your mind and body are connected, the very first steps to better coping and better mental health include steps towards better physical health,” said Morassi.

Her tips include getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night, eating more healthy and exercising daily, which could even be just a 20-minute walk.

“And for your mental health, find a mindfulness-based practice that works for you, meditation is especially helpful. Connect with nature or spirituality, pay attention to the messages you tell yourself and try to make them more positive,” she added. “Make sure you have some time every week to relax and recharge in your own way. And lastly, make sure you are having fun in life. Life is too short to not have some fun.

Nicole Ardila is a writer for the FIU Chapter of Her Campus and a multimedia journalist for Caplin News where she's covered national stories from Washington, D.C for the Spring 2023 semester. She is the former Opinion Director of FIU’s student media, PantherNOW and some of her work has been featured in The Miami Times and The Miami Herald. Nicole's currently majoring in digital broadcasting with a minor in psychology. She loves to travel and has a passion for photography and covering topics like health, mental health, wellness, lifestyle, culture and environment.