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You will spend 10-15 years of your life working at a job. That’s 90,000 hours. Minimum.

That’s a long time to spend doing something that doesn’t make you happy. Or even worse, doing something that makes you feel miserable.

It’s difficult to fit self-exploration into a busy schedule, especially that of students.

It can be an overwhelming task for most people to plan out their future careers before their prefrontal cortexes and cognitive abilities (including reasoning, problem-solving, and comprehension) are even fully developed. 

The good news is that the University of Houston offers solutions to these complex issues that often go ignored until “tomorrow.”

Speaking to a specialist

Adalia Espinosa, who serves as a career development specialist for University Career Services (UCS), helps students navigate through life after college.

“I think the misconception and missed opportunity is that students wait until they’re about to graduate to start using Career Services,” said Espinosa. 

UCS helps guide students who feel aimless or unprepared for their future by offering assistance with major or career exploration, mock interviews and one-on-one feedback on their resume and cover letter reviews. They also offer guides on planning for graduate school, salary research/negotiation and other resources that include free professional headshots and affordable suit rentals. 

The UCS main platform, besides their physical office located at Student Service Center 1, is Cougar Pathway. 

This online service can be accessed through your AccessUH account. 

Cougar Pathway is a database used to search and apply for on-campus jobs and internships, as well as schedule counseling appointments with UCS personnel to help further explore yourself and your professional progress. 

Espinosa promotes the idea of exploring yourself by helping students identify their “personal brand.”

One method that she uses to assist with realizing your brand is an online assessment called Focus2. This free resource is customized to connect your results to majors that are offered at UH.

“It’s not like a magic 8 ball or a fortune teller,” explained Espinosa. “It’s meant to teach you about yourself. It will assess your skills, your leisure activities, your personality, your values. Overall, it tells you how those components show up for you and what some of the career paths that other people with similar results are working in. I recommend making an appointment with me after getting the Focus2 results so we can talk about the report.”

Espinosa finished the interview with one last piece of advice for those who are still searching for their passion, as well as those who have found a career path they enjoy but don’t know how it’ll work out. 

Follow a path you’re passionate about

“I like to use the analogy with clothing or something we see at a store and say ‘Oh, that looks really good. I want it for myself.’ You won’t know how it fits you until you try it on,” she said. “I look at this situation, pursuing a career, and choosing a major all in the same way. You don’t know if you’re gonna like it until you try it on. You can do that by volunteering. You can do it with an internship. You can do it with a part-time job.

Even if it means that you try something on and find out ‘I hate how this fits me,’ or ‘I saw this other thing that I want to explore.’ You can try on multiple different things and find out what fits your passions. Keep going until you find something that brings you satisfaction, that challenges you and fits your skill set. That’s when you know. It feels right for you.”

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