From a very young age, I’ve always been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some lucky students are really good at math and have their hearts set on being an engineer, and others have known that they’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since the age of five. But many more students, even in high school, have absolutely no clue what they want to study or what they want to pursue as a career.
Up until a few months ago, I was among them. I struggled with finding anything I was really happy doing. Dealing with this struggle can really shake your self-confidence and make you feel like there’s not a place for you in the future.
I’m a straight-A student and have always been very on top of my studies. But this hasn’t meant I was deeply interested in what I’m learning about in school. In my experience, high school curriculum does not often allow for students to hone in on their strengths and figure out what they care about.
Learning to Create a Social Media Campaign Changed My Life
Back in March, I was browsing through Instagram when I saw a post about a workshop for teens with the Chicago advertising company Havas. At the time, I was still pretty unsure about my interests, but the word “communications” had often been popping up in my online college searches. I signed up for the workshop on a whim. Not to be too dramatic, but this decision literally changed the course of my life.
In these workshop sessions, I learned what goes into the making of a social media ad campaign. I absolutely loved every second that I was there, and tried to soak in as much information and knowledge as possible. As I rode taking the train home after one of the sessions, I listened to happy music and felt a feeling I had never felt before: passion.
I texted my best friend, who wants to be a fashion journalist, asking, “Is this what it feels like to really love something?”
The experience totally redirected my college search. Now I’m only looking at colleges with communications programs, and I can really see a future for myself in that field. But not every high school student can access workshops like this.
I strongly believe that all students should be able to have the opportunity to feel the way I felt on that train ride home. There’s something so life-altering about seeing a realistic picture of what your life could look like in the future. A vision like that really pushes you to want to thrive.
How Many More Kids Will Miss out on Finding Their Vision?
Thanks to Whitney Young High School’s Senior Experience, I’ll be able to intern at a place of my choosing for course credit. I’m extremely lucky to be able to gain more experience and knowledge in a field I’m passionate about. But how many other Chicago high schools offer this kind of opportunity? I’ve never heard of one.
Teens need to know that there’s more out there than what they see in their core high school curriculum classes. More Chicago high schools need to provide specialized opportunities and classes so every student can discover their passion. Once they find their vision, they will feel motivated and excited to succeed in high school, college, and beyond.
Lily Blaustein is a 17 year old rising senior at Whitney M Young Magnet High School. She’s a lover of music, makeup, and pop culture. Lily participated in the Summer Session of the After School Matters sponsored program, Hashtags and Handles. She hopes to study communications in college and pursue her interests in digital media and its intersections with activism.