William Liao

August 2, 2021

What do you want to do?

During my freshman year when my counselor asked me what I wanted to do in the future, I promptly responded with “I don’t know.”

Meanwhile, all my other peers at the time seemed to know exactly what they wanted to be: a software engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, a musician, etc. 

“I don’t know” wasn’t a simple declaration — for me it also felt like an admission of guilt. How could I not know already? Why couldn’t I be like my other friends? 

The first major I declared at college was Business. By many accounts, it was a sensible choice — but as far as I was concerned, I might as well have picked it out of a hat. 

Not even a week into declaring my major, I changed my major to Neuroscience. 

1 semester after that, I switched to Arts Administration. 

And the semester after that, I picked Telecommunication with specializations in Industry & Management and Media Psychology — that was the degree I ended up graduating with. I loved it

By the time I’d graduated, I took on my first full-time gig as a marketing project manager where I was able to apply a surprising amount of knowledge that I’d gained across the diverse set of course work I’d taken throughout my college career. 

Nothing I’d done up to this point was in vain. Was I able to finally answer the question my college counselor had asked me four years prior, though? No.

My next foray into figuring out what I wanted to do was a Masters in Data Science — it seemed like an intriguing skillset that could help me solve valuable problems more efficiently. “Maybe I’ll know what I want to do then” I thought to myself. 

Much to my excitement, I was able to leverage the skills I was learning in my degree to produce helpful data visualizations and analyses for my job. I’d developed a passion for data science but, once again, I never once thought to myself: “this is it.” 

Fast forward several years to this day, this my proud response is: “I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out.” 

Looking forward, it was hard to see how all of my experiences would come together. In hindsight though, the peculiar-at-times variety of experiences I’ve chosen to take on have ended up serving me well at every stage of my life and career.

I wouldn’t do any of it differently. 

If I could back in time to give advice to the anxious, confused, and embarrassed 18-year-old me, this is what I would say: Forget what other people think, trust your gut, follow what piques your interest, and trust (this is the hardest part) that everything will come together. 

It somehow always does.