As a sports journalism major, I tend to get very mixed reactions when I tell people what I'm studying at UMass.
Sometimes, I'll get an unconvinced expression as someone tells me, "oh, that's interesting."I've learned that that's their polite way of really saying, "you must be having fun wasting thousands of dollars paying for school."
Not quite as blunt as my accountant's response to my major: "Are there even newspapers to write for? Don't you think it's going to be a little hard to find a job?"
My grandmother still asks me all the time why I wouldn't rather be a doctor or a lawyer, despite the fact that each time I answer by telling her that if I had to spend most of my twenties in law or medical school that I'd blow my brains out.
As discouraging as these comments are, at the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoy my classes. And if my career doesn't quite pan out exactly the way I hope it will, at least I won't be an accountant, right?
The feedback I get isn't all bad, though.
Often times, after telling someone that I hope to one day write and produce sports documentaries their eyes light up with interest. They want to hear about what my classes are like, and all of the ESPN personalities I've met as a result of them.
And more often than not, these conversations tend to end with whomever I'm talking to saying, "I wish I had decided to do something really cool like that."
The truth is that I did apply to six schools as a pre-med major initially. I intended to be a pediatrician, though I could never see myself doing that. I knew my parents would have pride in saying that their daughter was a doctor, and that I would make a lot of money.
Then I stepped into my first journalism class my senior year and all those plans went out the window...I couldn't let myself become one of my friends who weren't passionate about their studies. These experiences gave me the idea for my topic. I could really relate.
One day I walked around campus interviewing students for this project, and of the 14 people I talked to, not one was trying to pursue their dream job.
Even more astounding to me, was that 12 of them literally told me how much money they'd potentially make after graduation was their biggest deciding factor.
I wanted to know why.
What I learned is that for many, it was about having a similar, if not better, lifestyle than what they were accustomed to. For others, it was strictly outside pressure from parents or peers.
The point that I would have liked to make to them didn't come to me until I had a conversation with my sister... an art major.
She said she would never pursue a career that wouldn't allow her to express her favorite quality about herself every day: her creativeness.
She's not afraid to not find a good paying job because she believes in herself and her work ethic.
She helped me realize that hard work can take you to the top of any field, whether it be art or engineering. It doesn't matter what any study shows the average person makes in any given field unless you intend to be an average person.