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Second Year: It’s Okay Not to Know
Amy Sevigny (center of photo) is a second year Chemical Engineering student from Warwick, Rhode Island. In her free time she is a member of the NU Pep Band and Concert Band, where she holds the position of treasurer for the Concert Band. She will begin her first co-op during the Spring 2016 semester.
Second Year: It’s Okay Not to Know
When I first applied to Northeastern almost two years ago as a ChemE major, I thought I had my entire life laid out. I knew exactly what I wanted (or what I thought I wanted) out of life. But from the perspective of where I am know, starting my second year of college and beginning to apply to my first co-op, I’ve realized that I really don’t know. I’m sure, or at least I hope, that many of my peers feel the same way, overwhelmed with classes and studies and somtimes even doubting if engineering is even a good fit anymore. But after almost a year of adjustment, I’ve learned that maybe not knowing, especially this early in our college careers, is okay.
I know I’m sticking with engineering no matter what, but industry, a possible minor, graduate school, and research are all looming unknowns that have been lingering over me since day one of classes. I look around me and think everyone has it figured out- that person wants to go into biopharmaceuticals, that one over there wants to study material science, and that one wants to go into alternative energies. As a freshman, I always thought I was one step behind, not knowing what classes to take or what companies to look into because I simply realized that I did not know what I truly wanted to do with my degree. I had trouble seeking help from advisors too because there were no specific questions I could ask. It was something I was going to have to figure out on my own.
Going into this year as a sophomore applying to co-op positions has made me realized something else though- that I’m not a failure just because I wasn’t sure what I was interested in. Isn’t that what the college experience is for anyway? To explore and discover things that you never knew you wanted out of life? The great thing about Northeastern is this is literally built into our curriculum. I’ve discovered that co-ops and Northeastern’s “experiential learning” mantra and all the resources that come with that are gateways for discovering your interests. Think a co-op looks interesting and you’re qualified? Apply. If you’re hired and you hate it, then it was a learning experience and you know what to say away from for your next one. The way I look at co-op is this: they are meant to give us a rejuvenated sense of why what we are learning in class is important and give a frame of reference of how the information will be applied and therefore help you figure out what aspects of engineering interest you.
Because of Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations program, I now have at least a framework idea of what I’m interested within engineering. Over the summer, I participated in the Alternative Energy Technologies dialogue in Sao Paulo, Brazil (the picture is from that trip) and I’ve learned that I’m definitely interested in this subject. However, I’ve very recently development an interest in biopharmaceuticals through some research I had to do for my introduction to co-op class. Though these are very different subjects, Northeastern’s resources have at least helped me plan a foundation and I look forward to hopefully be co-oping in one of these industries this spring.
So I guess what I’m trying to convey is that college, especially being here at Northeastern, will allow to find your interests if you don’t know right now. You will be stressed, sometimes to the point that you want to quit, but everything will work out in the end. Of course, I’m only a second year and I don’t have everything figure out. Yet, I want to shed a bit of light on those freshman and fellow second years who feel the same I do. To those who have it all figured out, all the best to you and I wish you great success. But to those you are lost and aren’t sure where to go, by utilizing Northeastern’s various programs and resources from co-op to participating in research to even joining a club, you will find your niche and figure it all out.