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#158: Ana Parfenova – Students must learn how to look within themselves for the answers

“In order to successfully transition into life after university, it is essential to have a clear understanding of who you are, your skills and abilities, and your goals for the future.” –Ana Parfenova, Student, University of British Columbia

I’ve noticed that a lot of young people in university struggle with finding their right path in life. After all, there are so many doors that you can go through, so many careers and internships out there to try and pursue, and so many different paths that you can take on this exciting journey of young adulthood.

Certainly, if you are unsure about who you are and unclear about exactly what it is you want, it can be extremely confusing finding your footing in a world that is constantly changing and pushing you into different directions.

A year ago, due to a few unexpected major life changes, I found myself in a strange and vulnerable position – for the first time in my life, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after graduation.

As a result, I was left terrified, confused and uncertain. My plans for law school fell through when I came to the realization that I would not be happy in a career that I found uncreative and boring. As systematic and future-oriented that I am, I was absolutely horrified by the thought that I no longer had a sense of direction in my life. After all, my entire undergraduate degree was planned for the purpose of attending law school.

I knew that it is impossible to navigate through life without a clear sense of direction because the tide will push you farther and farther off track from where you ultimately want to be. After I realized that the path I always wanted to go on no longer appealed to me, the thought of what I would do instead kept me up for hours every night. I became increasingly more confused and begun searching for validation and advice from my family and friends. Finally, after receiving some good advice but mostly conflicting opinions, I realized that the only way I could gain clarity was to rely solely on myself… and look within.

What I’m doing now

After I discovered what I truly wanted, and understood what I truly enjoyed doing, I decided to pursue a career in marketing and public relations. I made a chart of my goals and created a step-by-step outline of the things that I needed to accomplish in order to actualize my goal. I decided to join a club on campus and run for a Public Relations position in order to gain relevant experience in the public relations field while still in university. I am now a member of AIESEC where I have the chance to gain real world experience while finishing my last semester of university. AIESEC is one of the world’s largest student-run organizations that excels in bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace. As a Public Relations coordinator in AIESEC, I have the opportunity to connect with media companies on a frequent basis, and have already developed a clear understanding and appreciation of the public relations field. I can proudly say that after several months of confusion and uncertainty, I am now gaining valuable experience that is in complete alignment with my goal.

My recommendations for employers, schools and career centres

In order to find the answers that I was searching for, I took the time to step back and re-evaluate what I truly enjoy doing and what I am drawn to. I thought about my interests, the things that I am drawn to, what kind of lifestyle I want in the future, as well as my strengths, skills, and talents. Looking at myself through a subjective lens allowed me to look within and discover what I truly wanted. Once I discovered who I really was as a person and what I truly enjoyed doing, I knew that I had to share that with the world. You see, what you give to the world it gladly returns back to you. But if you’re not getting much from the world, then you’re probably not giving much. So ask yourself: What gifts, talents, and abilities do I have that I can share with the world? The moment that you do, you officially unlock the door to your treasure. Within that gift also lies your happiness and your passion. When we conceal our gifts and fail to that remember they exist, or know they exist but don’t use them, we will continuously experience feelings of emptiness, sadness, anxiety, and endless frustration with life.

Everyone is blessed with a unique talent or skill that they are meant to utilize and receive financial compensation for. So if you are stuck at the crossroads, unsure of where to go, take the time to step back and analyze who you truly are. What do you excel at? It could be a particular technical skill, excellent communication skills, a creative mind, an artistic tendency to create beautiful things, or strong business savvy. What are you drawn to? What makes you happy and excited? Where does your mind wander? These are the difficult questions that, once they are assessed and answered honestly, will help you find your sense of direction in life during moments of profound confusion.

My advice for other students and recent graduates

In order to successfully transition into life after university, it is essential to have a clear understanding of who you are, your skills and abilities, and your goals for the future. Experiencing moments of confusion and uncertainty in university are common, but don’t let them get you into a rut. I firmly believe that our toughest moments shape us into the person that we are meant to become. The path of self-discovery is challenging, uncertain, and often downright uncomfortable, but it’s also extremely enlightening and liberating.

This #StudentVoice belongs to:

Ana Parfenova
Fourth-year student
Political Science and English
University of British Columbia

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