Biochemistry to Business: How COVID-19 Changed My Career Plans
Sarah Gido is a Business Administration major at the Community College of Beaver County
“What are your plans after graduation?” As a high school senior, I felt unsure what my answer was to this looming question. I was an honor roll student with multiple AP classes and a long list of extracurriculars on my transcript, but unlike most of my classmates, I didn’t know what my career plans would be. While my college application deadlines drew closer, I was stuck in a staring contest with the blinking cursor on the “major” section. I decided to apply as a Biochemistry major for the fall of 2020. I placed immense pressure on myself to have the next four years of my life planned by college decision day.
Leaning into the Unknown
In March of my senior year, as the world came to a halt, life shifted online and towards social media. During the summer leading to my college move-in, I found a TikTok of an undergraduate student describing her experience at Anglo American University in Prague, Czech Republic. That video made me seriously reconsider my plans for the fall. There was the potential to study abroad or at another university that I was truly excited to attend. I was afraid to accept my indecisiveness, but I knew I would benefit from taking time to explore other options and majors. About two weeks before my move-in date, I withdrew my application from the university I was set to attend. I decided to stay home and take online community college classes to focus on finding my direction as a student.
My A-ha Learning Moment
In the fall semester of 2020, I took general education courses online, and after a meeting in the counseling office, I changed my major to Business Administration.
In my Management and Macroeconomics classes, I had an a-ha moment. Studying business was a culmination of my interests in leadership, critical thinking and psychology. My professors shared academic and career insights that I used to navigate the possibilities of a career in different facets of business. COVID-19 halted my previous plans but set me on a new, more fitting path toward my future career.
Once the influences from the structure of high school were stripped away, I was forced to reconfigure my definition of personal and professional success. Without the upheaval of the pandemic, I would probably be an unmotivated Biochemistry major or would have switched majors. My life slowed in a way that allowed me to quit clinging to timelines and break free from personal pressures. I stopped feeling like I had to have my life figured out at the age of 18. Focusing on my happiness instead has been extremely beneficial.
“What Are Your Next Steps?”
As I am nearing my graduation with an associate degree, I plan to attend the school in Prague that I found on TikTok! Now, I am confident in my decision to major in Marketing and Communications or International Business. I’m interested to learn how cultural differences impact consumer opinions, which will benefit my business career plans. I have established my own voice and adapted to the changes that accompanied the pandemic. While I never imagined a future for myself as a scientist, now I can easily envision a multitude of different career paths in business.
Ready to learn more about graduate employability? We asked students about their feelings on higher education and the role college plays in helping them land a job after graduation.