Whatever stage of your college career you’re at, it’s important to keep an eye on the future. In four short years, you will graduate Harvard and take on new challenges. There is no urgency to decide your postgraduate plans early on. However, just as great care should be put to choosing your courses and your concentration, including approaching them both with an open mind, the same holds for your future plans. At every stage of your college career, you should ask yourself anew “Who am I, and who do I want to be?” “Do the experiences I’ve had at Harvard – both inside and outside the classroom – to this point align with my goals?” “Am I happy with the future plans I’m envisioning for myself?”
Regardless how you might answer these and related questions now, you would do very well to discuss them with others. Many people on campus can serve as useful sounding boards for you as you engage in an ongoing process of reflection and research: recent graduates, senior peers, faculty, and your academic advisers to name a few. Be sure to meet with advisers in the Office of Career Services as well, and to attend the many career fairs and other learning opportunities that OCS holds throughout the year.
If you’re interested in extending your studies beyond senior year, learn about fellowships you may be eligible to apply for. Seek out such co-curricular opportunities as summer internships or public service projects that can help you explore possible long-term educational or professional interests.
And above all, connect. If you’re a freshman, you don’t need to decide your future now. But there are steps you should begin taking even now to prepare for it. Perhaps the most important one is to form connections with instructors who inspire you. Faculty who mentor you today may be key champions of yours tomorrow. Building relationships with them is essential to your success, whatever you decide to do post-Harvard. If you’re not sure how to begin, speak with your advisers, PAFs, Proctors, tutors, or your resident deans. The advice you receive, the lessons you take from it, and the confidence you begin to build in this regard will be of decisive importance.