As a college student, there are few questions that make you cringe. It just so happens that these questions are the exact same questions as those that welcome you to any family gathering, organization meeting, or any social event for that matter. What's your GPA? How is the job hunt going? What do you want to do after college? Have you thought about grad school? What classes are you taking? And most notably, what is your major? Though the question seems harmless and purely informational, the response that the initial answer to this question solicits is purely frightening.
Times are changing. It's 2015 and though many still believe that they are, not every student is on a pre-law, pre-medicine, or accounting path. Contrary to popular belief, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematic disciples) majors are not the only students with success in their futures. And most of all, it is no single individual's concern, what course of study a particular student embarks on other that that student his-or-her-self.
Now, as a rising junior, I have answered this question on one more than too many occasions. Initially, unwanted commentary regarding my career path didn't phase me—as it turns out, how to overcome adversity is touched upon in many of my courses, and these practices have been put to the test countless times during my undergraduate career, inside and outside of the workforce alike. I have found that it is common practice for others to belittle me due to the career field I am pursuing and this is NOT acceptable. Subconsciously, I have developed a defense mechanism for this question's purpose solely. Each time I am confronted with this conversation, my answer is not just a single word or two; rather, it includes my major, tracks/focuses, as well as my minor, followed by what career path I plan to pursue following graduation. In my eyes, these statements decrease the debate content and therefore protect me from the harassment style commentary that typically follows.
So, you ask, what is my major? The short answer is hospitality management. However, while good enough for me, this response isn't quite strong enough for many of my peers, co-workers, "friends," and even family members. So, in order to please these individuals, I explain that I am studying hospitality management with focuses on destination marketing and tourism administration. Additionally, I'm pursuing a minor in industrial/organizational psychology. I'm planning on following a career-path within a destination marketing organization, better known as a DMO, such as VisitOrlando, which allows me to utilize my skills in tourism industry sales and marketing, and further allow me to delve into the world of hospitality human resource management.
But why does this matter? Why should I have to regurgitate my career plans for the next 30-some-odd years, when students who identify as "pre-med" and related disciplines are rarely, if ever, asked for further detail? No, I don't see myself "managing a Steak 'n Shake" post-college graduation (yes, one of my peers went there), just as those "pre-med" students don't foresee themselves teaching middle-school biology in a couple of years. Every career path has success stories and stories of those whom could have been—we all must share the desire to be the best version of ourselves, rather than the desire to be better than one another.
This article isn't only about me, however. This one is for all of my fellow hospitality majors. This is for every student and every human being who feels like they have to answer to one another. We are all in this together and all have goals, hopes, and dreams. Remember that every person's hopes and dreams are just as important as yours. Focus on yourself, immerse yourself in new fields and cultures, respect one another, and study on.