Career Corner: Finding passion in your career

Ashley Hintermeyer joined the Office of Career Development in July as the Experiential Education Career Coordinator and is pursuing her master’s degree in College Student Affairs. Through her role in Career Development, she hopes to help incoming students find their home and passion with NSU.

During my freshman year of college, I went to a tiny, private school near enough to my hometown to commute. I was admitted as a nursing student, although I really didn’t think about or know about all of the specific things that went into that profession. I made some friends during my first semester — who are still my friends today — but I also made some mistakes. I received my first “C” in my history class and I was dropped from the nursing program.

It was tough not being a part of campus, and driving home every night to go to my off-campus job. I was incredibly discouraged after my first semester and began thinking about other career paths. I switched to education, but too late into my second semester to switch my classes. I continued with classes that I didn’t enjoy, and I continued to drive home after class each day to my off-campus job.

Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t happy and that there wasn’t anything connecting me to the campus. I decided to transfer to a larger, public institution that was farther from home, forcing me to live on campus. I also decided that I wanted things to be different. I wanted a support system. I wanted to feel connected to my campus and I wanted to have a reason to stay.

I became a Big Sister through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I joined University Council on Family Relations — an organization related to my new major: family and consumer sciences. I went through sorority recruitment and I found my home in Gamma Phi Delta. I also got an on-campus job in the student activities office.

Through Big Brothers, Big Sisters I found that I did not want to go into social work, although Sociology was my minor. I was able to not only work with the organization and my Little Sister, but also to shadow another person who worked in the organization. I saw from the other side the hard work that it takes and how it wasn’t all just about interaction with the participants. I wanted a different setting for myself. I learned so much about my new community and about people who come from different backgrounds than I do.

Through University Council on Family Relations I was able to attend a conference in Baltimore during my first year. At the conference I learned about different career pathways I could take and how to network and dress professionally — and to always go early to the breakfasts to get the good food.

The next year, I was able to attend the conference, this time in Vancouver, Canada. I was also able to conduct a grant-funded research study with a team of other students which we presented at the conference. I never would have gotten that opportunity if I hadn’t been involved in that organization. Now I can put the experience of having published research on my resume.

My biggest influence throughout my college career was my sorority. Through my experience, I made lifelong friends. But, I also learned how to manage a team, delegate tasks, run large-scale events and work with people that I really didn’t see eye to eye with. I was also connected to two of my on-campus jobs through this organization and then to two more opportunities from there.

By now you can tell I changed my major quite often — six times to be exact — and it took until spring semester of my junior year for me to pick the major I would graduate with. This is where I learned about graduate programs that I could go into to help me reach my goal of one day working on a college campus. I met my mentors — the people who would connect me to my future graduate school — and the people who would help me learn all of the valuable and important skills I would need to succeed in my future career.

My advice to you is to get involved. Discover the friendships and connections that will push you farther in life. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn new things. Find an area of passion that you can turn into your career. If you are doing something that makes you happy, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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