From college to the real world

College graduation means many things to many people. Words like a accomplishment, triumph and new beginnings come to mind when one thinks of a college graduate.For one recent college graduate, her memories of college graduation were filled with deep confusion and uncertainty.Alice Martin, who graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1998, realized some important things as she walked across the stage during the commencement ceremony.”I have always wanted to be an interior designer,” Martin said. “For as long as I can remember that has been my dream.”Those close to Martin can attest to this. “You can barely walk an inch in Alice’s apartment without tripping over some decorating magazine and she’s constantly watching those design shows on television,” said Sheila Stevens, Martin’s mother. Stevens said she first noticed her daughter’s interest in architecture and design when she was a sophomore in high school.With all of her love and dedication to designing, everyone thought that Martin would put that dedication toward earning a degree in interior design.But it did not happen that way.”I thought accounting would be a nice career path,” said Martin, who now works as an accountant at a firm in Huntsville. “Then I took a tax accounting course at Sam Houston and I really began to reevaluate my choices.”And now her bachelor’s degree in business administration hangs proudly in her mother’s home.”When I got to Sam Houston, I was so far into accounting,” Martin said. The 25-year-old also has an associate degree in accounting from Angelina College.”I knew that if I gave up on that, all of my time and effort would have been wasted. I didn’t want to do that.”But there is still hope for Martin to fulfill her dream.Nothing is ever carved in stone, and it has been widely know in the career world that one’s major in college does not necessarily indicate a person’s choice of careers.According to, a person’s major in college and what he or she decides to pursue as a career are often very different.Among the celebrities who have pursued careers different from those that their degrees would indicate: Dan Aykroyd (actor), criminology/sociology; Jodie Foster (actress), English literature; Michael Jordan (Basketball), mathematics;Meg Ryan (actress), journalism; Hulk Hogan (wrestling), finance and management.”To be honest, I thought that accounting would be an easier field to get into,” Martin said. And she’s right.According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1998, positions in the accounting field ranked 10th among the fastest growing fields in Texas. In 1998, there were more than 125,000 employees in the area of accounting.Martin also admits that money played a part in her decision to remain in accounting.”The money definitely doesn’t hurt,” she said. “And because I do this for a living, I’m able to manage my money better than most my age.”In its 2000 Salary Survey, reports than an accountant in a non-execute position could earn around $45,000 annually.Martin hopes that the money she is earning now will help her reach her ultimate goal.”I want to go back to school and get a degree in interior design and eventually turn that into my main focus.”The Department of Labor projects that an individual will change professions at least three time during his or her work life. So a change for Martin may be inevitable.”During my 22 years experience as a career counselor, I have found a number of reasons why people become unhappy with their careers and want a change,” said Charles Western, a career counselor at SHSU. “The most common reason I’ve seen is that individuals start jobs without knowing what is involved. And, after a few months, sometimes a few years, they realize this is not for them. This happens quite often, even if the job is directly related to the worker’s academic major.”Martin said she feels that buying old houses, refurbishing them and selling them would be her ideal job, but for now, accounting comes first.”I feel comfortable in accounting because I have that training,” Martin said. “I know that if I tried to refurbish a house right now it might not be successful. I have the love, but I don’t have the experience and that is important.”While Martin realizes that the transition may be difficult and lengthy, she looks to another celebrity for inspiration.”Martha Stewart’s career was based in the financial arena before she became famous. I figure that if she can make the transition, there is a chance for me,” she said.

Leave a Reply