Your future does not have to be set in stone.

#UBuffalo Strong Story from Will Berkowitz ’22

During my freshman year at UB, I was so obsessed with picking a major that it was becoming more stressful than trying to have a good GPA. Coming into college undecided isn’t a comfortable feeling. The transition from high school to college already feels like a lot to grasp, but not knowing what exactly you want to do can make that transition feel unsettling. I was, like many others, going into a new school without a major. I was enrolled in Major and Career Exploration (UE 101), hoping to get rid of the discomfort of not knowing what I wanted to do as soon as possible.

As the first semester of my freshman year went on, I put a lot of focus into my UE 101 class with Mr. McDowell. In this class, we had a semester-long project in which we had to conduct an informational interview with any professional in any field of interest. This person would be working in a position that could potentially be suitable for us in the future. A lot of the class reached out to UB professors, some of the class reached out to people they were connected with in some way or another, and a few people in the class reached out to people that they didn’t know.

In class, we were introduced to LinkedIn and Bullseye powered by Handshake. Through these two platforms, we were able to find and connect with UB Alumni as well as other employees. LinkedIn, like Bullseye powered by Handshake, allows you to look at alumni from your school and see the companies they work for, plus their major. LinkedIn also lets you see the statistics of certain majors correlating with certain careers.

One day I went on a walk with one of my roommates and I told him that whichever building I liked the most would have the department in which I’d major in. Well, my favorite building at the time was O’Brian Hall. Maybe I wasn’t being serious about that since I wasn’t necessarily looking to become a lawyer. However, while walking through the business building (Alfiero Center), I saw a sign on one of the walls advertising internships for people interested in being General Managers and Event Coordinators for the Buffalo Bisons. As someone who knew I had an interest in working in sports and entertainment, I thought sure I’d like to try out being a general manager, but nobody starts out as a GM. Especially not freshman year of college. I did think that event coordinating could be something that I could like, and it was something that I never thought of before.

Being that I am interested in working in the sports industry and particularly like hockey, I went back to my dorm room and looked up the Buffalo Sabres staff directory page. There I found the name of their Event Coordinator and reached out to him with the maximum amount of words I could use on LinkedIn, which ― since I didn’t pay for LinkedIn ― wasn’t a lot. Once we connected, I explained to The Sabres’ Event Coordinator what my assignment was and asked him to do the interview, to which he agreed. We set up a day and time and when the day came, I called him, recorded the conversation, and took notes on the details he provided me with after the interview.

Talking to him, I found out he majored in Communications during his time in school and I learned about his path to get to his position. Something I learned early on in college is that you have to utilize your resources. A resource you’ll always have in life is the ability to reach out to people. Not too long after the interview, I chose to major in Communication.

UB doesn’t have Communications (with an s at the end), which is different, but I found an overlap in some of the criteria that an event coordinator position looks for and the criteria of the Communication major. I looked at the upper-level classes of the major and the careers that UB Alumni who majored in Communication were pursuing. I found classes I’d be interested in taking and a decently large selection of careers that I felt matched my strengths correlating with the Communication major. After talking to Career Services and people outside of school, I decided to change my major and enroll in a couple of Communication courses.

I learned that there is an adventure in figuring out what you want to do. Your future does not have to be set in stone and it can benefit you greatly to experiment with different things. I learned that even after college there will be uncertainty, but by choosing a major that is broad and connected to a lot of different types of careers, I can experiment with various careers when I graduate. College is expensive and I was struggling to afford it so I wanted to make sure I was making a wise investment. The best way to find that assurance that you’re investing in your education properly is to utilize your resources and ask questions to as many people as you can.

Do these informational interviews, network with people you don’t know, and do the research in your spare time, and you will be on a better path to finding the right major and the self-assurance that comes with it. Your major isn’t the only thing that matters though, as experiences are even more important. Try to accumulate experiences on your resume, gain skills, and utilize your years in college towards building yourself to be an employable asset for a company one day.

By Kristy Strough
Kristy Strough User Interface (UI) Designer