By Shira Perton
We are all moving into this new stage of life we call adulting. For most of us, it is not as clear cut as going to college, pursuing a major of choice and getting a job. For most of us, we are indecisive, choosing to go undeclared until the very last moment and even when we do make a choice the possibilities are still endless. We met up with Alex Pittler, a Senior at Stern College to hear about her experience as a college student and how she figured out what her “adulting” path was.
Shira: Hi Alex, so from what I understand you are currently a stern student who entered as a Biology major, set towards a medical career when you suddenly switched to accounting?
Alex: I was Pre-Med, [it] just didn’t line up with my life goals. Once I figured out what those were. I decided that it was important to me to be able to have a life outside work, be that spending time with my friends, on my own, traveling, having a family, etc. I think all of these things are very important values to me. In retrospect, I was only interested in one particular area of medicine. I wanted to be a medical examiner – they do autopsies after someone dies to figure out how that happened.
Shira: There’s are so many shows about that profession, like Bones or Body of Proof!
Alex: There are lots of really good shows about that, so that was the only area of medicine I was interested in. That meant alot of being on call, lots of being in court, and loads of paperwork — I didn’t want to have to miss things in my own life, in my family’s life, or my friends’ life because of my job.
Shira: I definitely hear that, it’s easy, even in college, to feel like you are missing out on life events because work just somehow takes over. And now you are an accounting major, tell me a little about what that has been like.
Alex: Now I’m studying Accounting. I understand that there are times of the year that I will be very busy, but what I understand from current accountants is that even that is more flexible than the other [medical] schedule. It means that it will still require the balance that being a professional always does, l but it will definitely be a lot easier.
Shira: Do you ever find that as you learn more about accounting and furthering in that career that you kind of wonder what could have been? I can imagine when someone’s Pre-Med. I am myself, that it’s something you think about a lot. It’s not some sort of epiphany; it’s something you think about for a really long time. Do you sometimes have a “what if” moment, like “ I could be cutting open bodies right now and having a great time looking through their guts” you know, just a casual scenario…
Alex: (laughs) So I don’t know if I ever had that exact thought, but it was something I decided I wanted to do when I was 10 years old. My father is a scientist and he always made it sound so interesting. He used to take me to the lab and show me what he did. this was part of life, going to work with my father every now and then and learning about science on car trips. There were 16-hour car trips to NY talking about DNA because that’s how we bonded, so I always took it for granted that I would go into science. I didn’t really know what business meant until I became an Accounting major. I still love science; I still find it fascinating, and I do every now and then think about what it would be like, but then I think about how much my life is already better. I’m less stressed, I have time for myself and my friends, I keep in touch with my family better, and I genuinely do enjoy the accounting — I didn’t just settle for something I don’t like.
Shira: From what I understand you live in the heights now, that’s pretty far from Stern, so I imagine you have to wake up pretty early for travel time, are you a morning person?
Alex: Nope, mornings and me just aren’t a thing.
Shira: What are the benefits of leaving Brookdale, where you can literally roll out of bed and go to school, to having to have to wake up and making yourself look like a presentable human being because you’re going on real transportation. It honestly sounds tiring thinking about that. What made you make the move?
Alex: So, the days I have 9AM classes I have to leave my apartment by 7:30AM – that’s how I get to school which sucks. Honestly, the worst thing I’ve ever done. I used to walk to school in Alabama. For elementary school, my mother drove me it took 15 minutes and we were there. For high school, I went away and walked, it was 2 blocks; it was easy. I’m used to getting out of bed 30 minutes before I have to be there, and now it’s a HUGE difference. It is hard, but there are so many benefits to living [in the heights] that to me it’s worth it. I have a lot of dietary issues, so living in the dorms is difficult for me.ow I have my own kitchen, and I can make food and can actually eat, definitely a plus. I have my own space which is wonderful. It’s an amazing sense of freedom that I did not have in the dorm. I dormed for high school also, so coming to Stern was not that different, but it is definitely being in a dorm in college than in high school. There is more noise and alcohol. There are certain freedoms [in the dorms] I did not have before, but being in an apartment I’m responsible for myself.
Shira: You’re a senior — do you have any advice for someone that may not be sure they would like to remain Pre-Med?
Alex: Make sure it’s really what you want. It’s a lot of school to go through if you don’t know what you want, but, if it is, than it is probably one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Not only do you get to do something you like and love, but you discover a lot about yourself in the process, about how you physically work, how you psychologically work, your strengths and weakness — it’s really a discovery process. It’s not just about getting the degree.
Shira: What’s your advice to someone that is in a program right now but is thinking about switching?
Alex: If you’re unhappy where you are and want to switch, do it. Talk to the Career Center first – they are actually really helpful. But now is the time – don’t put it off. I had to stay another year because I put it off. This is what college is all about, exploring – so If you’re not happy where you are, switch.
Shira: Now this is a very serious question, you can choose not to answer it, but I would obviously love if you did: if you had to choose for the rest of your life to be a giraffe or a gopher, which one would you choose.
Alex: I would be a gopher. They are smaller and not the kind of animal that stands out they’re very much in the background, they observe before they jump in.I feel like once you get to know a gopher they can be your friend, and that’s an amazing quality to have.
Shira: What is one thing about you that we would not necessarily expect about you based off of this interview?
Alex: I played the cello for four years. I was part of an orchestra, but I don’t play as much now.
Shira: Reflecting on the answers you’ve given me, is there anything that you wish you could go back and do?
Alex: I wish I kept playing the cello. It transports you to another existence.
Shira: I definitely get that. Wow thank you Alex!