Finding a career path while keeping yourself out of debt as a college student may seem unrealistic but, Liz Pessaran, one of the three Career and Employment Specialist resources on the LBCC Campus, lets students know that they are not alone.
Whether you’re new to the college experience, applying to graduate from LB, or even setting your sights on moving onto a four-year program, there’s there’s a well-kept secret: you aren’t the only one that doesn’t know exactly what career you want to be in — and that it’s completely okay.
One of the most discouraging things about being a college student is the fear of the unknown; the fear of failure in the career path that you spent all of your time and money on.
“[Students] feel as though they failed, but they just found out that it wasn’t for them,” said Pessaran.
The youngest of 6 kids, Pessaran began her long journey into her LBCC counseling career at a young age.
“The reason I wanted to become a counselor especially at college level and how I got into this environment is because I felt like there was such a need,” said Pessaran. “There is a need and a conversation needs to be had; if people are expecting 18-year-olds to know everything when they walk in this door, then we need to start teaching them their options.”
Pessaran set out knowing only that she wanted to help people, that she was a good listener and loved making people smile, but her journey was long, defeating, and expensive.
“The road was bumpy,” said Pessaran. “I felt pressured for a timeline, so I didn’t want to switch around too much because I felt like, well I picked one [major] I need to stick with it and I need to just finish that because if I don’t finish it, I’ve let someone down [and] I’ve disappointed my parents.”
Pessaran switched her major numerous times, ending up with so many credits that she was able to double-major and get two Bachelor Degrees, ultimately finding out that she wanted to switch fields, again. So, Pessaran landed herself back in school, only this time pursuing her Masters.
With so many interests, so many passions, and no direction or guidance, Pessaran felt as if she was only knocking at the door of defeat.
“Another thing that discouraged me was honestly the people I was around, the environment and my friends. Some of my friends went straight out of high school to these big 4 year universities and they just looked so impressive,” said Pessaran.
“I had taken my first year at a community college, I had changed my major like 17 times in the first six months,” she said, laughing. “I felt like if I tried to get help, that somehow I would just be weaker than just figuring it out on my own.”
Not only was she in an abundant amount of debt, but by trying out different jobs in her field she felt as if she kept coming to the conclusion that they might not be what she wanted as a career. Finally, Pessaran came across a teacher that was willing to mentor her and give her some direction. This prompted her to begin asking questions, finally speaking with a career counselor and utilizing informational interviews. This landed her in her current career as a counselor which, she, says, she absolutely loves.
During informational interviews, students connect with an employer, either one that they know or do not know; someone in a career position which they might desire. The student interviews them about their lives and their job with a list of questions provided by the career counselor and is able to absorb information, and get the answers to the questions that nobody tells you in a textbook.
“You’re constantly learning,” said Pessaran. “I learn something every single day; as cliche as that sounds, I really do. I’m not an expert in anything – I’m growing and life changes, the environment changes, you change with it. So [be] adaptable and not beat yourself up about it. If you make a mistake or if you suddenly feel like ‘this isn’t the path i want to go on’ – that’s okay.”
As a student, it’s okay to be petrified, it’s okay to fear the unknown, it’s okay to take interest in more than just one thing, and it’s okay to not know what you want to be yet. The only thing Pessaran asks is that you never stop dreaming.
“Dream big,” she said. “Don’t ever stop yourself from dreaming big. The bigger you dream, the better. Don’t let anyone knock you down for your dreams.”
Pessaran and two other Career and Employment Specialist are here to help and assist you through your journey of school and into your career path.
“I want you to know that there’s people here that want to assist you,” she said. “People here want to help you figure out those steps – it’s not a conversation that happens in a one hour appointment. It’s a revolving door.”
Choosing a career path may not be something that can just happen with the first try, and that’s okay. Trial and error can ultimately lead you to the path that is right for you.
“Even if you try something new and you hate it — it was still worth it because you learned you don’t want to do that,” said Pessaran.
Get in contact with a Career and Employment Specialist if you have any career related questions: where to find scholarships, if your resumes needs tidying up, to test your interview skills, or even if you have no idea what you’re doing with your life.
“It’s okay to stay true to yourself and communicate with somebody who genuinely cares,” said Pessaran. “[Somebody] who’s going to support you and who’s going to help guide you so that you can make a transition and do the research to make sure you’re making the right transition.”
Pessaran is at the Linn-Benton campus on Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Benton Center on Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Lebanon campus Tuesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (541) 917-4780.
Story and Photo by Samantha Guy