Putting careers, life after college into perspective

Growing up, there are certain questions we as students are asked by teachers, friends and family at each and every academic crossroad we encounter on our way to college graduation. Significantly, they all seem to stem from the same Big Question we are asked in kindergarten: What do you want to be when you grow up?

First, we start off with figuring out the smaller stuff. During the transition from elementary school to middle school, we are asked to think about the little, trivial stuff that seems so important at the time, but in retrospect, never matters much. Will you continue to play the violin (even though you’re not very good)? What intramural sport do you want to try out for (albeit “try-out” being a loose term considering everyone’s a winner when a “B” team is involved)?

Then high school hits and The Real Question emerges for graduating seniors: Where are you going to school? Once we stutter and stumble through a year of figuring this one out, we arrive at college’s doorstep — only to run smack-dab into an entirely new set of difficult and never-ending questions, the chief one being: What are your plans after graduation?

But instead of posing this prompt, I’m going to ask a slightly different one: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? While for some students it may be just as head-scratching, for Stephanie Pazdan, senior in Business, it’s a question that helps put her life in perspective.

“It’s amazing to answer a question like this, especially because I can remember answering the same exact prompt about 10 years ago, forecasting where my life would be today,” she said.

Though at age twelve Pazdan envisioned becoming a soccer superstar for Notre Dame and then heading over to an Ivy League law school to become a big-shot lawyer all before turning 22, looking back she doesn’t regret dreaming big — nor does she intend to stop.

“In ten years, let’s see, I will be 32. By that time I will have my bachelor’s degree in accounting science, masters in accounting science and my CPA. I also hope to be well on my way to becoming a partner in a well-respected public accounting firm,” she said.

Apart from her career goals, Pazdan is thinking about her future in terms of family. Yet in contrast to the kid who claimed she was going to be the next Mia Hamm, this time around Pazdan is optimistic, but also realistic when looking to the next decade ahead of her.

“I have been lucky enough to find the person who I believe is the love of my life, and in ten years, I hope to be living with and married to my big-hearted man, only after of course, having lived in the heart of Chicago on my own or with friends for a few years. Perhaps by 32 I will have kids. If I am very blessed, I will hopefully have nieces and nephews by that time,” she said.

Ryan Moorehouse, senior in Engineering, is also hopeful for a family, but ideally he’d like to see a bit more of the world before settling down. With a summer trip already planned for Bulgaria and Ireland, Moorehouse is off to a good start.

“I love to learn more about different cultures, and whether it is through my career or personal travel, I want to visit more countries within the next ten years,” he said.

While Moorehouse is quick to note that nothing about his future is set in stone, he is sure that by working hard, his opportunities will become that much more limitless.

Pazdan couldn’t agree more about valuing hard work to achieve future goals.

“While it’s impossible to anticipate every life hiccup, I believe I have worked and will continue to work hard to set myself up for success and happiness,” she said.