Being a college student, we’re often asked what our majors are right when we meet someone new. Easy enough question. A little more difficult to answer is what we’re planning to do with that major. It usually goes one of two ways: they jokingly say that they’ll figure it out when they get there, or they get really excited talking about their passion and all they have planned out in life. Before this semester, I was the first type of student who was unsure what to do with my BA in Psychology after I graduated. After taking my Psychology as a Profession course, I was forced to evaluate myself, my needs, interests, and multiple job factors to figure out what I wanted to do and exactly how I was going to get there. When I found out our art activity for the week is “Design Thinking,” I already had all my answers prepared from the weeks of assignments I had already answered a similar question.
The path I have decided to take is to become an occupational therapist. I’ve already planned out all the courses I want to take until I graduate, all of which are tailored to fit the coursework for graduate school admission. I have plans to join the Psychology club next semester and apply for Psi Chi, the Psychology honor society at our school. There is also an internship over the summer for Joshua Medical Group that I am hoping of getting since I can get hours for working with a licensed occupational therapist. Once I graduate and acquire all these credentials, I’m going to apply to a Master’s program for Occupational Therapy. The one I’m most interested in is Dominguez Hill’s because my cousin is currently getting her MS there and she says it’s easy to get in and cheaper than most. After two years of grueling hard work, I’ll finally officially be done with all school and I’ll treat myself to traveling around the world for a year with my boyfriend. He’s already been off school for a while by then so he’s said he’d pay for all of it (LOL). He wants to go to Europe and I want to go to Asia so it’s probably going to be an exciting year. Eventually we would have to back to reality, and I’ll hopefully find a job working in a hospital. I once volunteered at a hospital and I found that environment to be a lot more stimulating and it also provides a lot more benefits/security, according to my cousins who work in hospitals. Once I get a steady job, I’ll finally be able to settle down and get married, buy a house, and get two dogs and one cat 😺
The reason OT appeals to me so much is because it’s a well-paying job and allows me to pursue higher education, granting me the satisfaction that I didn’t let my potential go to waste. Besides that, it’s a therapist job that requires less school (don’t need a doctorate or PhD!) and most master’s programs for OT are not as expensive as other programs. It allows me to be a part of the medical field, which all my family is in, without me having to get into the dirty work of a nurse. Growing up, it’s always been heavily emphasized that jobs in the hospital will never run out because there’s so many people out there looking for our help. Besides the position itself, psychology has always been an interest of mine because I’ve always been interested in understanding people’s mental processes and I’ve always preferred working one on one with others to understand them. My confidence in accomplishing this is rather high because I love to read and write about the subject matter, which is clearly proven by my current grades in my psychology courses. The only reason I’m not 100% confident is because I respect the field too much to ever assume I’m better than other scientific minds.
In case things don’t work out with occupational therapy, my parents wanted me to have a back up plan. As I mentioned before, a lot of my cousins are nurses, so it only made sense that I pursue something that I could get a lot of help in when it comes to classes, programs, clinical experience, and finding jobs. Before I decided to become an OT, going to CSULB as a Psychology major and then becoming a nurse was actually Plan A. I had volunteered at a hospital in high school and I found the work to be very interesting – you get to meet all sorts of patients with different personalities and stories. Nurses were always so kind and helpful and they really knew their stuff so it was hard not to admire that field of work. Luckily I can still follow that path because there are these accelerated nursing programs that allow you to apply if you have a Bachelor’s in something unrelated to nursing. They squeeze four years worth of material into just two years! In my current academic plan, I made sure to include prerequisites for ABSN (accelerated Bachelor’s in nursing) besides my MSOT courses. That way, once I graduate, I can easily apply to an ABSN program. My cousins warned me that it might take a while to get accepted since space is limited, so I’m aware that I’ll probably have to find an entry-level job with my BA in Psychology first. I’m hoping to work with kids with autism since it’s somewhat related to OT in regards to that one-on-one relationship I like to have. Once I get accepted into an ABSN program, I’ll have to put the rest of my life on hold and 100% commit to my education for the next 2 years. As I said before, my boyfriend would already be working by the time I graduate so we have plans to start traveling once I’m done with my education. When we get back, I’ll start looking for a job in a hospital, which won’t be too difficult since nurses are always in high demand, according to my cousins. With my career all set I can finally do the usual finishing touches to my life: get married, buy a house, and adopt pets.
Realistically, the path to becoming a nurse is more challenging for me personally because I’m not as strong in biology/chemistry courses as I am in psychology/reading/writing courses. As a result, admission into the already limited number of programs is going to be extremely challenging and competitive. The cheapest programs accept the least students and the programs that accept the most students cost an arm and a leg. I feel as though all those sacrifices made (time studying to gain admission or tuition cost) are all worth it, however, when you look at the impact that nurses make by helping the sick. The status, impact, and salary of a nurse contribute towards the satisfaction of the job, but I would not be completely satisfied since nursing is not my true interest.
Now if I could be anything I ever wanted to be, I would for sure be an illustrator. If I was already financial secure and no one could judge my decisions, I would transfer out of CSULB in a heart beat to go to an art school, like the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I’ve always been a big fan of aspiring artists on platforms such as Tumblr and was inspired by their art style and the amount of followers they would gather because of it. I would do just the same and post my work on a blog to work on my portfolio; hopefully I gain a following myself because that would help immensely in becoming a well-respected artist. Once I’ve graduated, I would continue to work on my website to commission work and build a clientele. On the side I would try to work at a firm or as a freelancer creating illustrations for books – anything I can do to get more experience and get my name out there. Eventually I would want to pursue a higher degree and get my MFA in Drawing. I’m a firm believer of using our maximum potential so I wouldn’t allow myself to just stop at a Bachelor’s. By then I’ll hopefully have enough credentials and experience to land a steady position in a company like Disney, creating new characters or even story boarding for new shows and movies. With a permanent position I would finally be able to afford a wedding and get married. After a few more years at a company like Disney, I would hopefully be able to pitch my own ideas and create an original show or movie, maybe even a graphic novel or video game. In this ideal world I wouldn’t be so concerned about money so I would definitely have my own kids.
When it comes to being an illustrator, I am 100% sure I have what it takes to become one. I’ve always been told since I was little that I was good at drawing and now that I’m in college, people even question why I didn’t major in art instead. I used to create comics on a blog when I was in high school and gained a small, but good amount of followers from it. I even had friends/relatives come to me to create pieces for them to use as gifts or Facebook banners. I loved digital art the most so I would always create things on Photoshop and my drawing tablet — the graphics on this blog post are even made on Illustrator! In reality however, resources for being successful in the field are quite limited. Although there are a lot of good art programs, there aren’t a lot of jobs available. An education isn’t all you need to become successful, which can be a good or bad thing; it depends on your drive, passion, and network. In such a competitive field and all the people at the top getting all the attention, it’s also a lot more difficult to make an impact. However, I would be extremely satisfied with my life if I became an illustrator. It would mean that I didn’t listen to what others (especially my family) told me and I was brave enough to take this risk. I would have a job that I truly loved and am actually good at, and hopefully, I did the “impossible” and made something out of myself from it.
I’m halfway done with college and it’s about time I start taking my future seriously – which is evident in all these “plan your life” assignments I’ve been given lately. It’s a great exercise and I feel a lot more confident about myself, my decisions, and my future after I do them. Although I’ve already had my Plan A and Plan B all laid out for me, it was rather interesting to really analyze my true passions and imagine my ideal life in a way I hadn’t dared to before. Who knows, maybe I might just go for Plan C 😉