I switched my major 5 times. This is a column about why you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new.
By Callie Schmidt
In sixth grade, my class took a field trip to BizTown, a kid-sized city on White Bear Avenue in Maplewood. I interviewed with my principal at Lincoln Center Elementary in South St. Paul to be a photojournalist for the newspaper, but I was hired as the Editor-In-Chief instead. I was disappointed. I wanted to take pictures. What does an editor do, anyway?
Fast-forward to junior year at Bethel University, where I am a journalism major interning at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
My journey toward picking journalism as a career includes painfully obvious clues throughout my life I never noticed until recently. In fourth, fifth and sixth grades, I wrote essays and was chosen to participate in the Young Authors Conference hosted at Bethel University. I took workshops and classes from authors who encouraged us to never stop writing. Good thing I had been journaling ever since I could pick up a crayon with my left hand.
Yet, when I came to college, I started out as a biology major. My friend crashed a van into a tree driving me home on Thanksgiving of 2014, and I oddly loved my experience with the nurses at Regions Hospital – so I figured my calling was obviously in the medical field.
Once I recovered from my back injuries and the glass stuck in my head, I started volunteering in the Cancer Care Center. They even wrote an article about me – “Former patient turned volunteer sets her sights on a career in healthcare.”
I didn’t realize until later, but the part I loved the most about volunteering was interacting with patients and hearing their stories. I could write a book on the stories I heard from the people there.
After a semester of being a biology major, I switched to nursing. One anatomy lab later, I switched to philosophy and decided to pair it with journalism, despite having no experience (except for BizTown).
I took my first journalism class in spring 2016 and was hooked. Even though a couple more double majors and minors got added and dropped along the way, I’m grateful for the experiences in those classes and disciplines. Though some would say it was a waste of time and money, I value everything I learned because it makes me a more well-rounded and educated person.
But I wouldn’t have made it here if I had been afraid to change my mind.
When I decide on something, I usually go hard and work with all my energy to make it happen. I’m also willing to change my mind when circumstances call for it.
I feel like a lot of people at Bethel are afraid to change their majors because they’re afraid of what people will think, or they’re afraid they wouldn’t like the new major. But you can’t know until you try it.
Some family members have expressed disappointment in me after I switched from nursing to journalism. They worry I won’t make enough money.
OK, so I worry about this, too. But I know deep down that as long as I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, everything will be A-OK.
I chose journalism for a career because it’s fulfilling. It gives me a way to actually offer my skills to better the world in some way.
I feel so honored when people open up to me and share their stories, even though they’re not obligated. Building relationships with people – both in the field and simply in life – is why I do this and why I chose this.
But who knows? Maybe in 10 years, I’ll be an astronaut.
I’m keeping my options open.
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