The Journey with Joan Ball

I sat for about two hours yesterday with a student who asked me to help her figure out what to do next with her life. She is a senior, graduating in may with a near 4.0 cumulative average. She’s a hard worker with 3 or 4 internships at impressive companies under her belt.

I was ready for the “how do I get my career up and running quickly” questions I’ve come to expect from my students, but this conversation went in a different, but increasingly typical, direction. She wasn’t looking for advice on how to network, write a killer cover letter or nail an interview…she has a good handle of those tactics already.

I asked her a few questions about her interests, figuring she might be looking for help defining her options. We quickly outlined a half a dozen amazing possibilities, each of which were more than achievable given her skills, interests and drive. Good for her, I thought. Any of these approaches would set her off on an interesting journey.

But her body language made it clear that these equally appealing paths diverging ahead of her were less a cause for celebration than a source of confusion and uncertainty. I’d seen this before and waited for the question I knew was coming next…

“But how do I decide?” she asked me. “How do I know what to do…I just don’t want to make a mistake.”

So what would you have told this 21 year old woman with all the possibilities in the world ahead of her? How do you  discern what to do next when faced with a variety of equally appealing options?

Please share and I’ll pass your advice on to her!


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