The Career Peer Files Part 2: Finding My Way on a Non-linear Path

As someone who has changed career paths twice in 9 months, I have to say I wouldn’t know how to have handled it without being a career peer.  There is something to be said for the non-linear job trajectory.  Most of us will follow that path, especially those that chose not to go right to graduate school.  My two years as a career peer advisor helped me handle the stress and panic of not knowing what I am doing with my life.

After graduation, I moved to Washington DC to pursue my dream of going into hotel and hospitality management.  I worked at the front desk of a four diamond luxury hotel.  I met celebrities, vice presidents, and people from all over the world.  And I absolutely hated my job.  Career Services helped me realize what I valued in an organization.  Thanks to the professional development I got to participate in at CS, I quickly learned that that company and that industry were not my cup of tea.  I soon let my dream of owning my own hotel die, and replaced it with business aspirations.

I now work at a health care consulting company, in account management.  Again, thanks to the interview skills I learned through my time at CS (both interviewing and being interviewed), I knew how to take all of my skills and transfer them to virtually any position I was applying for.  I could talk about a time I went above and beyond for a needy guest in my interview because it showed attention to detail, wonderful customer service and a commitment to excellence.  Had I not taken Ed 164 (CNCSP 110), chances are pretty good that I wouldn’t have known how to talk about hotels and health care in the same sentence.

I am the type of person that has a plan.  I like to (think I) know what I’ll be doing in five, ten and twenty years from now.  What I quickly learned, is that my ten year plan today will most likely be very different than my ten year plan in five months.  In the nine months after graduation, I went from thinking I wanted to go to grad school to get my masters of hospitality and hotel management, to my MBA, to my current aspiration which is to get my MD.  And I am not overwhelmed by anxiety because I now know this is normal.  Career Services taught me that I need to be fulfilled in my role in the workforce no matter what it is.  The staff there not only supported me finding my own way, but reassured me that it was normal to question everything and change your (professional) life several times before settling.  Thanks to them, I am now enrolled in a pre-med post baccalaureate program to do the medical school admissions requirements

So from Career Peer to Front Desk Agent to Account Management Associate to Doctor?  I am not sure exactly where I’ll be in the next few years, but I know that I can face the workforce confidently thanks to my time as a career peer adviser.

A.J. Rawls is an honors graduate from UCSB. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Global Studies in 2012. He was a Career Peer Adviser from 2009-2010 and 2011-2012. While at UCSB, A.J. was a member of the UCSB Gaucho Toastmasters and the Brothas from Otha Mothas male acapella group.

You can find A.J. on LinkedIn