My friend Richelle, now 32, can recall the exact moment when the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” got real:
I was about to start my senior year of college, and I was terrified. I had been a pretty precocious overachiever type growing up, and I’d been hearing that question from approving adults pretty much all my life. “President!” I’d say, or “Supreme Court Justice!” The kind of thing that’s easy to say when you’re 10 or 15. But there I was, staring into my last official year of school, and I realized I desperately needed to answer that question. I felt paralyzed, terrified of making the wrong choices. I was lost in a backwards sort of way: I knew exactly where I was, but I didn’t have a clue where I was supposed to be going.
I remember those days well, and they were not pretty! I had a similarly frightening realization starting my senior year of college, but unlike Richelle, I had declared a career direction early on. I was majoring in fashion merchandising, and I was doing really well—and I hated it, a lot. In a panic, I considered changing majors, but that would mean extra years of school. I talked it over with some good friends, and God used my friend Dan to steer me in the right direction. Dan had been accepted to Harvard Business School’s deferred admission program, where you are admitted with the understanding that you will work for two years before enrolling. He encouraged me to apply, even though I wasn’t a business major and hadn’t, at that point, even taken many business classes. I decided to give it a shot, and thankfully I did because it set me squarely on what was the right path for me.1