A FINAL WORD

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

― Ernest Hemingway

I got shocked after hearing the words of professor Gilbert about our final blog post. I simply couldn’t believe that my blogging journey for Multimedia journalism course and this semester are slowly coming to an end.

I have a feeling that the end has come to early and that right now, when I got used to hardware, software and pace of the class, I would like to interview more people and say lots of new things about my potential interviewees and their “major” steps.

Nevertheless, let’s see whether I have learned the lesson!

The question I was trying to answer through my blog is how do college students choose a major and find their place in the professional world? In addition to answering this question, I have also tried to solve a personal college major dilemma.

During the first two months of my blogging, I learned that students should consider job market, stop hesitating and that they should primarily follow their heart while choosing a college major and future career, because the life is too short. I have also learned that nowadays even people with fine arts degree can easily become part of the business world due to the technological improvements which have increased demand for artistically-inclined professionals.

The last two months of my blogging led me to some memorable discoveries marked by even more memorable statements.

‘It wasn’t simple decision at all because, in my opinion, choosing a right major is more important than just going on college or university. So first of all I had to talk to my family, close friends and after considering everything I decided to major in economy. It was the major I wanted and I still want to do in the future’.

After hearing the words of Ulziibadrakh Dagdan, a second-year AUBG student from Mongolia, I realized the importance of time. The usage of time, as one of the irrecoverable sources, plays a critical role during decision making. I realized that time in college goes by really quickly and that constant dilemma and lack of clear resolutions about the college major and hints about future career, may lead to time and money consuming troubles such as prolonged studying for bachelor degree. In addition, I realized that I need to employ all of my resources and consult everybody I consider trustworthy.

The moment I made my list of future interviewees and cousins I will ask for an honest advice I found an interesting tweet via Storify containing the link to the article named “Why you shouldn’t let other People’s Opinions Affect your Career Choice?”.  This is a small part of it:

“Although parents are usually well-meaning when they try to get you to follow a certain career path, there is no point in you doing what they want you to do if it’s going to make you miserable. The same is true whether it is your parents trying to influence you; your partner or your friends.”

After the initial “O my God” reaction I realized that these words totally make sense and I have crossed out the names of my family members. My parents for instance, in spite of supporting each of my college decisions tend to behave persuasively when speaking about majors for which there is high demand on the job markets but in which I am not really interested. In my case, those are Business Administration and Economics. Despite the fact that I understand them and their concern about financial status of my future, the decision about college major choice should be entirely mine because after all, I am the one who will take certain major or do particular job.

Then I conducted the interview with Jonathan Lyons, accounting professor at AUBG, who restated some of the advices I have mentioned before:

Many first jobbers would change job anyway. You can always take career brakes, but you need to get the experience.  You probably enjoy different things when you become older. No offense to anyone, but when you are in your teens or early 20’s the world is a big, exciting place, but after you do five to ten years of work you can then look around and try some different things.”

The interview with Lyons taught me that finding place in the professional world is a life-long journey not a destination. Additionally, I learned that there is no such thing as final professional or educational path. Lyons himself has two degrees, Accounting and Psychology, and is a certified English language instructor.

When I thought I’ve learned it all I heard “Ciao” from the Italian. Pierangelo Castagneto, American history professor at AUBG, has firstly told the following sentence about choosing a college major:

“Try to ‘waste’ some time before making the final decision.”

Castagneto himself has “wasted” certain time after high school by being the so called “green” journalist. He then realized that history or more specifically American history is his call. He afterwards said : 

“If we admit that human life can be ruled by the reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.”

This powerful sentence has completely captivated my thoughts. For one moment I started thinking what is the reason why people like or dislike certain things. What I realized is that there is no logical explanation why somebody, for example, likes writing, drawing and chocolate, but completely dislikes mathematics. My conclusion was simple; everybody is born with a set of genes and natural inclinations which should serve as a general guide towards the suitable college major and career choice.

The answer to the question of my blog therefore looks like this:

College students choose their major and place in the professional world by following four essential steps:

1)      Getting lost and admitting that they have a dilemma – Once you admit you have a problem you are no longer struggling with your emotions or trying to give a false picture of yourself to yourself and other people. Your mental energy is now focused on the solution of college major and profession dilemma.

2)      Traveling – by traveling I am referring to discovering. I have chosen the word “traveling” because choosing a college major and profession is a process which requires certain amount of time. During the “traveling step” students should be open to all the options. This process is no different than tasting new food or buying new clothes. You should do whatever you feel right and speak to whoever you consider helpful. I started working on the solution of my dilemma by sending e-mails to the professionals working in my area of interest containing clear questions about their professions, trying new and different courses at my university and finally starting a blog and therefore discovering the stories of different people by interviewing them. My plan for the close future is to take an internship as soon as possible and become one hundred percent confident about my decision.

3)      Making an educated choice – Before you actually try something you may never know whether it suits you. Personally, I used to have a big fear about accounting. I am bad at number crunching and I was actually thinking about giving up the whole business major just because my friends told me that it is hard or that professor is a tough grader. After taking financial accounting I realized that it not unmanageable and that I would like to take a business major in addition to my journalism and mass communication major.

4)      Being aware of the change – One of the conclusions I made from the stories of my interviewees is that you can always change your educational and professional path once you realize that is not really your niche or when you simply stop developing yourself. My grandmother likes to say that “As long as the person is alive, there is a solution.” You should therefore make the most of your current opportunities, make lots of steps and walk through your “major” path as long as you enjoy it.

I am grateful to all the people who followed my work on this blog so far. Nevertheless, I need to inform you that this is my farewell post. I think that neither you nor I should perceive it as a typical good-bye, but as an opportunity to relax from each other, gain some new experience and raise some new questions for the future blogs.

So, until the next blog!

Sincerely yours,

Novak Novakovic

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An ex JMC in HTY

Ciao! – You have probably heard this word so many times during your stay in Bulgaria. Depending on the country this word means hello, good bye or both. The word comes from the language of the native country of this week’s speaker. He is Pierangelo Castagneto, an AUBG professor of American history, coming from Italy.

Castagneto’s major path has started in the city of Genova, a famous Mediterranean port.

After attending “Liceo classico” – a high school containing rich historical, philosophical and linguistic curriculum, he decided not proceed to university studies.

“For two years I worked in the newspaper. I was a ‘green’ journalist covering stupid stories like broken legs and burnings and you know, when you are green you need to follow many things, sports especially. But after two years I was kind of disappointed in everything, the environment. I felt I was missing something about education.”

Castagneto has then decided to attend University of Genova. He wasn’t entirely sure what to pursue until meeting his Modern history professor who has turned out to be not just a good professor and mentor, but an honest friend for the rest of the life. This professor managed to direct Castagneto intellectually by giving him lots of choice options. According to Castagneto , this professor explained him the true meaning of history and that a historian is the person whose mind represents an intersection of art, science and literature.

Castagento then earned a B.A. in Modern European history with focus on British history and later a PhD in American studies at the same university.

His major path leads him far away from home, to the positions of professor in universities worldwide. Castagneto has taught at University of Toronto, Yale, University of Knoxville, then to University of Genova and finally at the American University in Bulgaria.

Castagneto believes that prior to making serious academic choices students should give themselves certain time to grasp who they are.

“Try to ‘waste’ some time before making the final decision.”

 This is coming from his conviction that the humans learn about themselves throughout the life and that the first two years of college should be reserved for exploring.

Castagneto also believes that liberal arts system, which by the way originates from Germany, is one of kind and should be maximally used while searching for the intellectual and professional preferences.

In order to provide the students with golden advice he had to quote the great Leo Tolstoy:

“If we admit that human life can be ruled by the reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.”

Castagneto said that not just the college students, but people in general, should not forget the dreaming dimension of life and that they shouldn’t trust the reasoning too much, because otherwise they will be dead before dying. In addition, he asserts that by only following financial gain people won’t be in touch with the real essence of life.

A note he would send to Pierangelo Castagneto, a college student, goes like this:

“Be more ordered, be more a historian!”

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Accounts of a psychologist

We all have some sort of accounts. The word “account” has so many meanings and applications. It may refer to Facebook, bank statement, finances of our company, justifications or our personal life accounts.

This week’s story gives an insight on personal accounts, decisions and advices of Jonathan Lyons – a new financial accounting professor at AUBG.

This British gentleman is a person possessing variety of knowledge from highly disparate intellectual areas. He is a teacher by vocation and psychologist, accountant and qualified English language expert according to his degrees.

“I got a degree in psychology. I went into teaching while I was doing a final year in accounting qualification and converted to doing MBA in accounting and finance so I could broaden my teaching abilities. I consider my profession to be teaching. I have a doctorate in accounting education from King’s College London and also an MBA. Also, I am a qualified teacher of English language.”

Lyons considers his college major choice a very quick and simple decision. As a youngster he was really interested in people. Psychology, as a growing social science at that time, has captivated his attention and he simply decided to pursue it.

The experience which helped him find his professional identity has happened while he was auditing for one company. Apart from his regular duties, he was responsible for supervising and teaching the staff. Lyons has quickly fallen in love with the teaching part.

He believes that today’s college students should focus on job market rather than heart. He nevertheless admits that different changes regarding the choice and pace of a specific career may happen after certain time.

Many first jobbers would change job anyway. You can always take career brakes, but you need to get the experience.  You probably enjoy different things when you become older. No offense to anyone, but when you are in your teens or early 20’s the world is a big, exciting place, but after you do five to ten years of work you can then look around and try some different things.”

This is the note he would write to his younger self:

“Keep it interesting, keep it a lot interesting, don’t get down any blind alleys and just keep going. Look around; make the most of your opportunities. As my mother used to say – ‘A life is not a rehearsal.”

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Getting storified

Dear reader, I am using the Storify application for the first time. This is the part of my on class assignment.
Storify is the website/application which enables you to gather the published content of your interest from every social network.I learned today how to gather tweets from the people who share my interest or blog topic.

Below you can find the material I gathered today.

These are the ten stories/tweets  regarding the college major and career choice:

Choosing a college major and profession

This is my first storify.
It is part of my multimedia journalism on-class assignment.

  1. Petroleum engineering highest-paying college major; with a median salary of $120,000 t.co/0FdeRwLlzV #STEM #CollegeMajors
  2. Honestly lifes passing too quick. And i have no idea what career choice i wanna go into
  3. Why you shouldn’t let other people’s opinions affect your career choice t.co/gGpJa2sVKp
  4. Working in the finance sector is dubious career choice. #qanda
  5. Do medical students see GP as a positive career choice or fallback option? #pblive
  6. Donald Trump’s Advice on Choosing a Career… t.co/5bafyTFWND

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A student voice

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

I am certain that my interviewee has read lots of pages on his way to Balkan peninsula.

My interviewee for this week is Ulziibadrakh Dagdan, a second-year AUBG student from Mongolia, who has already declared his major.

He nevertheless admits that decision-making regarding college major was neither short nor easy process:

“It wasn’t simple decision at all because, in my opinion, choosing a right major is more important than just going on college or university. So first of all I had to talk to my family, close friends and after considering everything I decided to major in economy. It was the major I wanted and I still want to do in the future.”

In Dagdan’s case there are no dramatical turning points or big moments of discovery. His college major choice came as a consequence of accumulated academic experiences and preferences.

“Looking back to my past, I think I was interested in math and I wasn’t so interested in reading and stuff and that was, I guess, the experience that helped me choose my right major.”

Should the students follow heart or job market?

Dagdan thinks that you need to consider both, but that eventually the heart comes first because people don’t like to do the stuff they don’t like.

In addition, he is motivated to study economy due to a big and altruistic cause which includes helping his native country.

“After my graduation I will get back to my home country. So far Mongolian economy was not in a really good condition and think I will have the capacity, intelligence and everything to make the right decision which will improve Mongolian economy.”

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Unpacking the impression suitcase

Everything started with the topic choice. I kind of lost my enthusiasm when I heard from the professor that my initial topic might not be the most suitable for the blog. Additionally, my enthusiasm experienced an emergency landing when the computer I was using suddenly stopped working while I was setting up my Word press account. Not the best way to start, right?

Then I decided to put the solution of my personal dilemma on a whole new level. To make it clear, my dilemma is whether to major in business administration in addition to majoring in journalism and mass communications. A journey called “Choosing a Major path” started.  I didn’t know what to expect.

After speaking with deans, professors and residence hall directors I reached not just interesting discoveries about my topic, but also about them. These are some of the most interesting ones:

“Life is too short not to love what you are doing”.

This sentence represents the general message of all the stories I covered so far and one of the most important lessons about finding yourself intellectually and professionally.  Lucia Miree, my interviewee and a creator of this simple yet effective sentence, found her niche after being a hippie taking the course overload, then working in some of the biggest universities in U.S. and finally, becoming a Business department professor at AUBG.

And just when you think you should enjoy the major you love, you hear something like this:

“The reality may be a little more leaning towards thinking about the job market and this is coming from I and many of my friends finishing up these things we have passions about and lots of my friends literally can’t find jobs. I would hate to be in a career that I don’t look forward to going on to most of the time, I don’t say every day, but most of the time. You have to think of paycheck, so little of both”.

David Shane Wallace, a literature professor at my university and “the owner” of these sentences, is the person who found his major path during one of his journeys. He started out as a political science major, did international advertising in South Korea where he realized that teaching is his passion. His words have put me into deep thinking. I started imagining my life after university and cruel reality which involves the struggle to stand out in the job market, eventually find the job and make a living. I realized at this point that having an additional major, business administration in my case, is not bad at all. After all, I should increase my chances for employment  while I am still at university.

I realized that I would like to try  majoring in the business administration. Then, the words of true support came:

“Don’t hesitate, do what you want to do, no doubts, there is no wrong way. So, keep moving on, keep going on. Never stop! Once you stop, you start hesitating; the doubts get bigger and bigger”.

These words are said by Ilko Drenkov, a residence hall director and a man who knew from the early childhood that history is his major intellectual and professional path.  Determination present in his words led me to an important conclusion – while solving dilemma regarding a college major and profession you need to have a time limit and belief in your own feelings. Otherwise, you are going to waste your precious time and course credits.

The moment you start thinking that your college major is a definite direction of your career steps, you hear this:

“I think you should follow your heart. Markets change very, very quickly today. I’ve had three careers; you will have more than that. What you need is the adaptability to change, to be able to shift direction because the job market will change many times during your lives”.

Sean Homer, an AUBG literature professor, is a person who tried it all.  He had troubles analyzing texts, bad high-school reports, careers of factory worker, experimental movie maker and university professor. In addition to this, he has two B.A.s, fine arts and English literature. His words reminded me that job markets are changeable while natural intellectual inclinations aren’t.

A case which additionally supports the words of professor Homer is my blog post about the actual opinion of students about the recent McKinsey recruitment conference held at AUBG.

“Whatever business you work, creative people are now more valued than they were before. So there is a chance for me to find my place in the business-oriented company”.

Tatevik Mkrtchyan, an AUBG student minoring in fine arts and a person talented for drawing, has reached this important discovery during the conference. This means that in spite of being challenging and filled with fierce competition, today’s job market offers vast number of opportunities for people excelling in specific skills.

To sum up, what I learned so far during this journey is that in order to find your intellectual and professional path you need to:
1)    Consult your feelings – remember what you liked doing when you were a child. I personally liked talking in the microphone and playing with my mom’s camera.
2)    Get the broadest college education possible – taking different courses will help you discern what you like or dislike. I am taking Financial accounting this semester and I will probably take Marketing during the next one. My current feeling is that I will major in business administration.
3)    Get experienced – after brushing up your skills through the college education make sure you get some real-life experience by having extracurricular activities and internships. This will help you find your professional identity.


A real-world perspective

As the Aubg daily reports, on September 30th,  in “Andrey Delchev” auditorium, two of the AUBG alumni and current employees of McKinsey, Nemanja Grujicic and Georgi Konov, gave an insight to the AUBG students on how an international company such as “McKinsey” operates and recruits new staff members.
In a relaxed and friendly manner of this recruiting lecture Grujicic and Konov also gave set of advice on what steps students should follow in order to successfully start their business careers. The alumni also managed to break certain prejudice students have about business world. They underlined that in addition to students with a business degree, “McKinsey” also employs people with philosophy, architecture and even medicine majors.
The alumni also said that in their company meritocracy is the only measure of success and that their newbies are treated with the same amount of respect as the old staff member.

Tetevik Mkrtchyan , an AUBG artistically inclined student, admits that she didn’t expect the lecture to be engaging.

“I went there just because the guy who was presenting is an AUBG alumni and RA, and I am currently an RA”.

She nevertheless admits that the lecture was quite enlightening and that it actually helped her find the way to express her artistic inclinations in the business world.

“Whatever business you work, creative people are now more valued than they were before. So there is a chance for me to find my place in the business-oriented company”.


A boy who didn’t like school

Hello everybody!

My interviewee for this week is Sean Homer, a protagonist of an adventurous story of becoming a university professor – the profession he adores.

While finding his true call, Professor Homer had to step in various intellectual and professional fields.

He finished his high school at the age of 17 with minimum qualifications.

“I didn’t really like school and I really didn’t like teachers that much. I remember my bad school reports. The most difficult thing for me was to understand, analyze and write texts”.

After finishing high-school he has been working in factories, offices and building sites and realized that these are not professions which can captivate him for a long time and provide him with fun. His first degree was in fine arts. Homer has later worked as a photographer and experimental filmmaker. Taking photos for bands’ album covers and making films was something he truly enjoyed doing.  In the meantime, his animosity seemed to turn into pleasure. He was slowly realizing that he actually prefers writing and thinking about things, rather than putting them into photos and films.

Due to a movie project he participated in, Homer had to travel to Paris. Over there, he had the opportunity enjoy literature of his choice. In the book pile consisting of masterpieces written by Dostoyevsky, Jane Austin and others, a book with peculiar title written by even more peculiar author has completely captivated and impressed Homer. And then, the turning point happened.

“At some point I found the copy of Marx’s ‘The Poverty of Philosophy’ and I read this. I’ve never read anything like this before in my life. This was a quality of analytical mind, whatever one thinks of Marx doesn’t matter, I have never encountered before. That was the key moment when I thought I would go back to university and I would study”.

His university comeback was filled with new anecdotes and challenges. As somebody who had lots of time for reading vast number of philosophical books prior to university, including the ones about French contemporary theory and philosophy, Homer has expected from his professors to know everything about that. What he realized, however, is that his professors only knew one-third of that material. In addition, his professors had a hard time grading the work of this young man. For instance, Homer’s essays containing semiotic analysis have severely puzzled the professors who were able to write a grade only after receiving Homer’s thorough explanation. At the end of his university education Homer has earned a degree in English literature and PhD in Comparative literature at the University of Sheffield.

His message to the university students, who are wondering whether to pursue the heart or the job market, is:

“I think you should follow your heart. Markets change very, very quickly today. I’ve had three careers; you will have more than that. What you need is the adaptability to change, to be able to shift direction because the job market will change many times during your lives”.

In addition, Professor Homer says that university students, prior to finishing their education, should develop skills and mindset which will help them adapt to the job market.

His final message, delivered in a witty manner, is that students shouldn’t look to professors for words of wisdom due to his belief that professors simply don’t have them. He nevertheless says: “Follow your desire”.

A word of historian

Hello everyone,

My interviewee for this week is Ilko Drenkov – a residence hall director of “Skaptopara 2” student dorm at the American University in Bulgaria.

In a spontaneous and straightforward conversation he reveals his perspective on finding  intellectual and professional niche.

Drenkov has several university degrees, including B.A. in history, a Master’s in history and PhD in history.  He is one of those people who has managed to find the intellectual aspirations in the early childhood.

“Almost at the age of six, seven or eight I was committed that I would study history, psychology or philosophy or some of the kind.”

He says that he has brought his final decision, which included studying history at university, during his high-school days. Drenkov also says that this was a natural decision. In addition to his major, he has minored in arts and English literature.

In his case there were no surprising discoveries or dramatic turning points showing him intellectual and professional direction. He realized that studying humanities is his future, while the questions such as “Who am I?,” “Where am I going to be?” and “Where do I come from?”  have given him short yet momentous answer – history.

When asked about whether it’s smarter to follow heart or job market while looking for your place in professional world, Drenkov says:

“Try to compromise 50-50 percent. Follow your heart fifty percent and follow the job market requirements fifty percent, it would be great. If I have to choose one of the two, of course I would say follow your heart, because after all the market will bring you the money but if you follow your heart it will bring you satisfaction, happiness.”

He adds that, after all, everybody has its own priorities and decides for itself whether to choose money, individual satisfaction or the combination of both.

In his straightforward manner, he gives the following advice to the students experiencing  intellectual or professional  dilemma:

“Don’t hesitate, do what you want to do, no doubts, there is no wrong way. So, keep moving on, keep going on. Never stop! Once you stop, you start hesitating, the doubts get bigger and bigger.”