Asian Cultures and Languages (Pre-Law) Senior Angela Yang
My search for what I want to do in life is intertwined with my search for my identity and both have brought me great frustration. I had never considered law, because I thought that law was a field for "those" smart people. My parents both went to technical colleges, and I never even dreamed I had the chance. When I first made my decision to pursue law, I started working part-time for an immigration/international law firm downtown where my mentor worked as well. There was this young attorney who worked there and, everyday, she looked as if she had been to hell and back. She seemed an angry and bitter person; it was easy to see she was not happy. I also saw another attorney looking out the window with a certain longing - working just six hours a day had me yearning to be anywhere but there too. My main task, and only task, at the law firm is data entry. We get a hard copy of the information on a sheet of paper and enter it into the computer database for storage and other purposes unbeknownst me. Although the work itself, though minimal in scope, would not be the tasks of an attorney, but the tediousness of the work does. This part-time job, though, did not make me think twice about being an attorney, because I have done work like this before in many of my classes. My bible study leader went to New York University Law School and she told me that I would be miserable if I did not enjoy it. Does it take a certain personality or a certain kind of contentment with life to practice law?
I did many things to try to figure out what I wanted to do. I started taking an LSAT course, but I soon became unhappy and discontented. I thought there had to be something more - even my triumphs in the LSAT course did not bring me the elation I saw it did in other students. The questions were incredibly stimulating and I did enjoy working on them, yet I know many lawyers do not solve problems like this all day at work. I even volunteered for a client role in a mock civil litigation trial where I saw brilliant law students who enjoyed what they did. I also read a book titled What the Heck Am I Going To Do With My Life? by Margaret Feinberg, interviewed with Accenture, attended the mentorship class where the mentors came and talked about their paths, and talked to my friends who are currently working. Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company and is the largest consulting firm in the world and one of the largest computer services and software companies on the Fortune Global 500 list. To be honest, I applied there on a whim to humor myself only to find out that I was only 1 of 3 liberal arts students out of a total of 50 business students out of 170 people chosen to interview. My experience preparing for the Accenture interview was stressful, to say the least. I researched what a behavioral interview is and followed their instructions carefully, i.e. prepared a list of questions they might ask as well as questions I would ask, found out about the history of the company, read current articles on their recent activities, and finally, practiced how to answer the questions with someone. I even attended a mock interview at the Liberal Arts Career Center. I imagine if I had to do this every day for work, I would burn out very quickly. Their experiences have confirmed that I am not the only one who is searching for something more.
I was desperate to the point of typing in "I don't know what I want to do with my life" in the Google search engine and, to my surprise, found a great article titled, "How to Do What You Love". This title sounds cheesy and not the title of an article I would read, but given my circumstances, I thought I would give it a try. This article gave an understanding to the struggle I was feeling between doing something I love and wanting a high-salary job. For example, the author writes:
"Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like...The danger is when money is combined with prestige, as in, say, corporate law, or medicine. A comparatively safe and prosperous career with some automatic baseline prestige is dangerously tempting to someone young, who hasn't thought much about what they really like."
It went on to say that if you like two kinds of work with the same passion, but one is more prestigious than the other, than you should choose the less prestigious one, because the other's level of prestige might have influenced how much you like it.
People might think that I am trying to find excuses, because I do not want to enter "the real world", but you would not be right. I have succeeded in everything I did during my undergraduate education, even if I disliked a subject with a passion. I did well in classes I did not like and even better in classes I love. I know I am not a lazy person who wants more for less. From this way of testing, I have come to understand that what I want is to find something I am good at and enjoy.
Many people say they wish they had done this or that when they had the energy, time, and resources. They say that doing the things you want to do and having the prestigious, high-profile career is not as easy as it looks in the movies. They often tell me how much they regret they did not do what they wanted when they were younger, but instead, flowed with the current of what society told them they should do.
As for me, my thoughts about my future career path and life, for that matter, have changed since scouring for anything that will tell me something I have not heard already. I realized that what I do not want is three more years of school and $100,000 later only to find out this is not what I want to do. I do not want to get stuck in a cubicle dreaming my life away. But right now, I know that what I do want is to keep my youth and the idealism to dream big dreams and the energy to run with it. I know that I want to be surrounded by people I love and people in whose lives I have made a difference on my death bed. Maybe when I am older and, I hope, more wise and content, I will think differently, but right now, I just want to do what makes my heart soar.
I took a UK-based personality and career assessment test that well outperforms other tests here in the U.S. and came up with advertising and design. I know that I have always been more artistic and in the creative realm, but I suppressed that desire in the past because an advertising entry-level salary is low. Next semester, I have enrolled in a lower-division advertising course and signed up for a private art class outside of school. I will dabble in graphic design on my own, starting with the Photoshop software, and take a class if that does not work out. Researching more then would have given me back my five years of college to pursue what I really wanted to do, but it is not too late that I have found it now, and this new path undoubtedly will take bravery and time to carve. This mentorship class has forced me to search and question myself and the present-day ideologies that have influenced my thinking. This is my biggest reward. Next stop? Mission trip in East Asia!