Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Q294 and Decision-Making

Coming to campus as a freshman in fall 2009, my imaginary future resume looked very different from what it does now. For starters, my major would have been Psychology; my extracurricular activities and experiences would have been focused around law school preparation, as I intended on being a pre-law student. At first on campus, I thought I had it all figured out; throughout high school, my teachers and parents always encouraged me to pursue law, exclaiming over how well my personality and skills meshed with a career in that field. When I started researching law schools and careers in law, my eyes began to glaze over. I tried and tried to see myself in those shoes; but I just couldn’t get excited about it. In fact, I wasn’t so excited about Psychology either. Sure, it was interesting, but I wasn’t as passionate and fired up about it as I originally thought I would be. I felt lost and frustrated—it seemed like everyone knew where to find their niche in the University except for me.

Two things happened to me that semester that changed the course of my path. The first was that I learned about Émile Durkheim—not even in just one class, but in three of my classes that semester (I considered this a sign that I was supposed to be paying attention—the universe wanted me to know something about this guy). Let me give you a crash course in Durkheim—he’s this pretty cool “father figure” of sociology. Durkheim believed that collective consciousness—being part of a community-- was essential for society and humankind. In fact, he believed that individuals would experience anomie (more or less lack of norms, or deviance) if they did not feel part of the collective consciousness. As I studied Durkheim more and more, I began to relate his theories to my own life. At this point at IU, I felt lost, frustrated, and on the outside of this huge “IU Family”—I lacked collective consciousness. I didn’t know where I fit in, what I contributed to the student body, or what the next four years were going to have in store for me. So, as a confused freshman, I decided I needed to learn more about myself, and I enrolled in Q294 Basic Career Development for the second eight weeks of the semester.

Through Q294, I was able to examine my own interests, skills, and strengths. We had a project where we had to research a career, and discuss that career with a professional from that field. I chose one of my Criminal Justice professors who works closely in the field of community corrections- a subject Durkheim was getting me more and more interested in. After talking with her about her job, and opportunities in her field, I felt for the first time passionate about something I was studying. I wasn’t positive of where my unique skills would fit best in the field, but I knew I would be fulfilled studying these subjects. And so, I decided to change my major to Sociology and Criminal Justice. Finals rolled around, and between three of my classes, I found myself spending a lot of time with my two favorite men—Herman B Wells (the library), and of course, Durkheim (my notes). As I prepared for my exams, and rehashed Durkheim’s theories, I had a sudden realization—maybe the reason I felt absent of this collective consciousness was because I was not contributing to the community. I was absent of the glue that would hold me to IU. The solution was so simple I’m mad it took me a whole semester to figure it out—get involved.I stopped just studying about community, and started experiencing it for myself. I joined the IU Auditorium usher corps, took part in various volunteer opportunities, and found a summer job I loved— working with incoming students during summer New Student Orientation ( I might add, I never felt like I “worked” a day that whole summer—that’s how much I loved it). Getting involved introduced me to some of my closest friends, allowed me to network throughout campus, and helped me feel like a proud Hoosier.

Want to know a fun twist to the story? Now as a junior, I was offered an internship from the professor I interviewed for my Q294 project!

Posted by Anne

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