Major in happiness, even if it means switching career paths

The first thing most people say to me when I tell them I switched my major from mechanical engineering to new media journalism is, “Wow! That is a big jump.”

To some, the idea of switching majors sounds ridiculous. For me, four semesters into college and completely burned out, it was exactly the change I needed.

Switching majors was not without its challenges. Graduating after my friends and being a junior in freshman-level classes became my new realities.

Rather than be stuck in a career that left me unfulfilled and craving more, though, I leapt at the opportunity to change my path now.

I did not want to walk across the stage in two years, burdened with the guilt that I only stayed in my major for the money or because I thought it was too late to switch.

What I have realized is that the happiness I have found in my new degree is worth so much more than the problems that taking more than four years to graduate presents.

To anyone currently facing the same decision that I was a year ago, do not feel discouraged.

The most important lesson I learned in all of this is that college is about the journey. It is more than the piece of paper you receive at the end.

It means knowing enough about yourself to recognize what you want to pursue.

It means having the right motivations behind what you are studying so that your passion translates into a rewarding career.

One thing I wish I realized when I started the process of changing my major was how many supportive adults exist at Baylor.

Since I was 6 years old, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer. Once I left engineering, I had no idea what I wanted to pursue instead.

From the beginning, the Office of Career & Professional Development was incredibly helpful.

Over the course of several meetings, they led me through a series of tests that helped me recognize my strengths, weaknesses and the careers that people with those traits find fulfilling.

It was a combination of their guidance, meetings with CASA advisers who helped point me in directions of paths they thought I might enjoy, and conversations I had with different professors prior to declaring my major that led me to the journalism school, and I could not be happier to have found my home here.

Penelope Shirey is a junior journalism major from Birmingham, Ala. She is a photographer for the Lariat.