This is a special contribution from a HireOwl student, Emily C. of NYU.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a question that comes up constantly in essays, interviews, and job applications. If you’re like many college students, you don’t have a great answer. You have your major and you have a list of jobs you can pursue with that major, but you don’t really know what you want to do for the next few years, let alone the rest of your life. Or maybe you do know, but you’re nowhere close to getting there and don’t know where to begin. Luckily, being unsure of things in college doesn’t mean staying unsure your whole life. Many successful people also had no idea what they wanted to pursue or what to do when they started out. Take just a few examples of what future leaders were doing in their 20s:
- Oprah Winfrey: The soon-to-be talk show host was just fired from her news slot on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV.
- Ralph Lauren: The future fashion designer had dropped out of college, served in the US Army, and was working as a salesman for a tie company.
- Mark Cuban: The man who would become owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a wildly successful businessman was living with five friends in a three-bedroom apartment. He had just been fired from the PC company he worked at.
- Tina Fey: The future comedian was working as a child-care registrar at the YMCA.
- Sylvester Stallone: The someday actor, screenwriter, and director was making $1.12 an hour at the Central Park Zoo cleaning lions’ cages.
- Whoopi Goldberg: The future View co-host was applying makeup to corpses in a funeral parlor.
- Ray Romano: The undiscovered comedian was studying accounting at Queens College.
- Walt Disney: The legend that would start his own company had just been fired from his job as a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination.”
- Jeff Bezos: The man who would found Amazon.com was working as a grill man at McDonald’s. He was never even promoted to cashier.
- Howard Schultz: The future Starbucks CEO was a salesman for Xerox.
If you’re one of the millions of students who have no idea what they’re doing, don’t panic! The most important thing you can do during your college years is expose yourself to many different disciplines and jobs. The more jobs and internships you have, the better you’ll understand what you enjoy and what you want to dedicate yourself to.
Most successful people say that the experiences they had in their younger years are what led them to where they are, however disconnected the jobs may seem. Don’t be afraid to take that internship or job in a field you aren’t absolutely sure about. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. And of course, let HireOwl help you find them!