This semester has found me drifting through my studies and extracurriculars with no clear idea of how I want to spend the rest of my life or what career will fill my time. A lack of direction has made it difficult to focus on the present challenges and left me struggling to keep up with many obligations. However, being involved with the CGS has assisted me in synthesizing all the different competing interests in my life and helped me find what I care about.
The multiple lectures sponsored by the CGS have brought people of all different cultures and disciplines to speak about what they care most about. Hearing these lecturers and presentations speak about their passions has helped me learn a valuable lesson about my own career aspirations. Finding a specific area or aspect of the world you want to create a change in is critical to finding a sense of self purpose and career direction. Whether, like some of the CGS sponsored speakers, it is studying dictatorial regimes and how they can peacefully transition to democracy, exploring the root causes of racist ideas and hate groups, or understanding how NGOs are empowering Somali women to learn, I’ve learned how important it is to find your passion and what skills you have in order to forge a direction for your career and life.
This semester for the CGS has helped me to realize my variables of that formula much better. I have always had a strong love for the environment, and through my coursework and events like the Sun Come Up screening and discussion, this semester I have been able to channel that love into a desire to protect the environment through a variety of ways. First and foremost, there is a great amount of research that must be done about the groups of people in the world who will be affected most by environmental and climate degradation. Secondly, mobilizing support for these groups and government action takes a good deal of effort and coordination. These are both areas that I have had experience practicing this semester with the help of the CGS, and areas I believe I can be useful. For my intern event, I have been part of the communications team planning the Onward on Climate Rally, which will be promoting the social injustice behind climate inaction. CGS sponsored events such as the Sun Come Up highlighted the importance of better planning for a future featuring less available land due to rising seas.
The experiences at the CGS have certainly helped me identify what is necessary to find a direction for my future, and to shape something I am passionate about into a marketable skill.
In my last blog I reflected on the experience I was gaining from working as an intern at the Center for Global Studies. Networking, creating press releases, and beginning to plan and carry out my own event for Penn State’s International Education Week all speak to the invaluable professional development the Center has to offer. I’ve even learned a lesson or two over territorial disputes when it came to paying my intern dues and hanging flyers around campus.
As another month passes, however, I’ve learned that I’m gaining a less obvious type of experience through my work with the Center for Global Studies. When I began my senior year this fall, I was faced with the daunting terror of still not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Instead of monsters under our bed, senior college students most often fear L.A.D (Life After Graduation). How can you find a job if you don’t even know what interests you most?
This is where I find I owe my thanks to my internship, and why I signed up for another semester. The lectures, film-screenings, and discussions that CGS sponsors and co-sponsors around campus have become my favorite activities to participate in. Often times the speakers that we host at Penn State are highly accomplished individuals who love what they do and have worked hard to get there. To listen to their stories and backgrounds, and then witness the careers they’ve made for themselves first hand, is an opportunity that all Penn State students should take advantage of more often.
I recently interviewed Dr. Prajit Dutta of Aicon Galleries and Aicon Funds, and I was inspired by how he created a career for himself that combined art and economics in a way that didn’t compromise his interests, while still making a difference in the world. Soon after, I attended Dr. Dru Gladney’s lecture on “Globalizing China’s Uyghur Problem,” which related directly to my studies as a Chinese major. I learned I was fascinated by Dr. Gladney’s work with minorities in China and the experiences he gained throughout his lifetime abroad.
With each event I attend, I’m learning something new about myself. I’m discovering what fields I’m interested in, and learning about new career paths every day. In our lives we’re often told that jobs are cut and dry. You can be a biology major and become a doctor, or you can be an English major and become a writer. I’m learning that our careers are what we make them. While they may not know it, the Center for Global Studies is providing excellent career services for a lost student like myself, and that is a type of experience that is proving more beneficial to me than the type you can put on a resume.