One of the most valuable things that I’ve learned while at Cornell is to follow your passion. This isn’t something you learn in the classroom, it’s something you learn on your own.
This is my eighth semester at Cornell, however, I won’t be graduating this semester as previously planned. I was on track to major in Materials Science and Engineering, but during the spring semester of my junior year, I made the decision to switch. The main reason I decided that I no longer wanted to stay on that track was because I just didn’t feel passionate and excited about the classes I was taking. That being said, I have only good things to say about the major – it just wasn’t for me.
During the summer after my sophomore year, I worked at a small business called Monarch Teaching Technologies. They make interactive learning software for children with autism. Being a part of this company was amazing. Not only did I get to directly see how the software was helping children, but I also got to see how my work was helping the company. This is one of the beauties of a small business or startup. I’ve since become hooked on startups. Knowing that I had this interest and passion for working at a startup, I decided that I wanted to get involved with entrepreneurship and make my way into the tech startup scene.
As an engineering student, I still had/have the desire to make cool things, so I made my way into more of a software development direction. However, I also really like some of the business aspects of startups like marketing, communications, and building partnerships. To most, it might be obvious that there’s not a major within engineering that covers this range of topics that are broad, yet extremely interesting to me. I considered switching out of engineering, but ultimately, my need to build things won out, and I decided to go down a lesser known path within the College of Engineering. So, this is my first semester in my new major, which I created. I’ve chosen an Independent Major focusing on Information Science and Entrepreneurship. The semester’s only a week in, but I know that I made the right decision to switch majors when I did.
What I’m trying to get across here is the importance of following your passions in school. In my case, this involved switching majors, but it doesn’t have to. Some might argue that I should have just finished up my last year in Materials Science and then made my way into tech startups. I definitely could have done that, but taking classes that I wasn’t excited about wasn’t easy for me, and I needed to do something about it. If you ever feel trapped in a major or job that you’re not excited or passionate about, do something about it. It may not always be practical to leave your major or job, but there are other ways like working on side projects or starting a Meetup or club on campus that can help you follow your passion.
For me, my new major is like a passion project. I could talk about Information Science and Entrepreneurship for hours, and that’s how I know that I’m on a better track.
How are you following your passion while in school? Let me know in the comments.