#34 Overcoming College Major Confusion Transcript



Natalie Schwartzkopf  00:00

I would recommend that when you are applying for internships that you make an Excel sheet, where you write down every single internship that you applied for when you apply, and maybe a link to link you to the website where you can check your application status. It just makes it easier to write it by seeing which ones you got denied from which ones you got, you’re in progress or which ones you got accepted from.


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:25

My guest today started her journey to college major and career clarity in high school. Mason High School graduate in University of Dayton class of 2024. Student Natalie Schwarzkopf shares her struggles and triumphs as she worked on figuring out what fits her. You and your team will be inspired by Natalie story by knowing when the ideal time is to start this important work and how to keep momentum going, even when facing rejection, as Natalie did when she was coming up dry while applying to 78 Internships until well, I’ll let her share her story because she does a much better job in her own words. You’ll finish the episode inspired by what steps your family should take during high school and college for your teen or college student to get clarity. I’m Lisa marker Robbins and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. I love students success stories and it is my pleasure to welcome a former student of mine, Natalie shorts, cough to College and Career Clarity. I met Natalie when she was I think just a sophomore in high school and now she is a rising junior at the University of Dayton pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. This summer. She’s having a fantastic internship experience. I invited Natalie on because she’s gone before my listeners and she is the oldest of her parents, two daughters. I am actually working with her younger sister right now. She’s got just great advice for families in the process and the college bound process and helps us manage expectations. So Natalie, welcome to the podcast



Thanks Lisa, glad to be here.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:27

So we met when you were a sophomore in high school. So four or five years ago, the first thing that we did was actually you took your Berkman assessment. And those results. Yeah, what did you think of that assessment?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  02:45

I was honestly really, really interested about taking it. And at the time, I suspected that I kind of either had a really hyperactive or I had ADHD. And so taking the Burkman it kind of definitely pushed me in the direction of what kind of job that I knew I needed. Because while I knew that I didn’t like sitting in class for long periods of time, I definitely knew that I didn’t want to be sitting in a job just in a cubicle all day long every day. And so that kind of gave me like a starting point in my college decision in my career decision and where I wanted to go from there.


Lisa Marker Robbins  03:20

So you had this inkling of like, I’ve got this restless energy in me. And that’s actually what we call that score on the assessment is restlessness. So it’s like I’ve got this restless energy and me, ultimately, did you have ADHD?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  03:34

We never ended up getting me tested because I was so functional with it. I need a great school. Yeah, I’ve just learned to deal with it and ways to cope with it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  03:45

Well, it sounds like it almost the the Berkman assessment when it showed that, yes, you’ve got this restless energy. And it provided insights that it’s just not going to be a fit for you to sit at a job that’s at a desk. Yeah. And so that we started I remember you started filtering me we didn’t like take it and go, Aha Natalie’s gonna be a chemical engineer someday, right?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  04:10

It was definitely confirming in my beliefs that I knew that I didn’t want to sit down. Like I wanted to be up and active and have a job, whether it was a career in chemical engineering, where I knew I would have the ability to get up and go and walk around or something along the lines of like physical therapy or being in pharmaceuticals where I could get up and walk around, but it was definitely confirming and it was confirming for my parents to I think just knowing that I wasn’t going to do well in a job where I was sitting down all day and not being able to converse or talk to people,


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:42

even as parents and I can speak to this as a mom myself, like it just it provides insights of like kind of looking under the hood. We all have thoughts and think things about our kids and we want them to find their own way. But of course we as parents have opinions. And so it’s helpful when we get had extra information on them. I remember when we were doing this work and like you said, one of the things that we had strongly like, got to engage with people. We’ve got to be able to be up and active in moving the idea of solving problems or being intellectually curious. I remember that coming up. And then you did some job shadows. And you actually, over the years had probably one of the most just because it was fun. I want you to share about the one job shadow that you had. But your job shadow was not only fun, but it helped you navigate. What year did you do that? Was that your junior year of high school?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  05:42

That was a long time. I think it might have been my sophomore year of high school, I went and I did a job shadow food scientists who have named Heather young, and she worked for a flavoring company. And so when I got to talk to her, she talked more about how she made the flavors for Kona ice, which was something that really intrigued me because being from Cincinnati and being from Mason Kona ice was at every event. And so knowing that that product started in her flavor lab in her basement, to moving to going and being produced and then going out to the trucks that I had every like festival or school event that was like amazing, just seeing something go from a lab to being on the shelf, and that she was able to be exposed to that that was really, really intriguing. I think that started me on my line of like, food production and that kind of thing. But I went over to her house, and she took me down into her lab into a basement. So she


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:37

literally has a lab in her house. Yes, you could be a chemical engineer or a chemist and be working in your own basement, and not necessarily at a business.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  06:49

Yeah, and that was way pre COVID. So it wasn’t like a thing where they gave her her lab to do the because of COVID. And they didn’t want interaction, it was a choice that she was able to make for herself and for her family, that she wanted to be at home and able to interact with people, but still be present within the companies like work and that kind of thing. So we went down into her lab. And at first it was just her basement. So she had a couch, she had a TV set or workout equipment. And then she opened these huge double doors. And it was just like a world of chemistry. There was like mixers everywhere and like beakers, and just like vats of like powder. And I was like what is going on? Like, what am I walking into. And she kind of introduced me like the project that she was working on for this company. And I was really intrigued, she kind of let me take charge. She showed me first how to me, I think it was a flavor for Gatorade or something, just the process of adding the different powders and adding the flavoring and then adding the natural coloring that she added. And I think that the drink that I made, I think it was like a pineapple high viscous drink or something like that. I remember it was like bright magenta. It was really cool. And it tasted really good. But it was really interesting just to see how you got to add different chemicals and you had to add different chemicals to the water at different temperatures, seeing how that all interacted with each other and then seeing how when you added the color, it didn’t show up like the color the powder was it was the color like mixing with the different chemicals that were in the flavorings that you added to the water and how that all reacted together.


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:27

That’s so cool. So this was truly just a job shadow. I mean, you’re a sophomore in high school, which I would tell everybody is not too early to be doing job shadows at all, you know, you’re not gonna get an internship as a high school sophomore necessarily in chemical engineering, but you’re getting exposure and was that I don’t remember was that a one day event that’s it was one day. It sounds like a busy full day and you got a lot of different exposures. But it’s amazing to me that how many years later we are here you’re you know, heading into your junior year of college, you’re still remembering these details because it impacted you so deeply. So you got this job shadow. I’m sure your parents helped connect you to get your job shadow which is that’s okay. Like that wasn’t embarrassing to you or your your parents didn’t feel like oh, we shouldn’t be helping her out. You know that’s normal for a high schooler. We should tell everybody that that job shadow experience ended up resulting in a what I would say as a college counselor, a killer college essay. It was quite amazing. Because you you were able to write with it. It had such an impact on you, you’re able to easily storytel in writing and share your interest of why you were applying for chemical engineering. As you did that, then you started exploring college majors.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  09:53

So one thing that I did that I would recommend for everyone is to just look at a list of jobs. What They’re it’s in line with your parents jobs are in line with what your teachers are doing or what your teachers did before they decided to go to school to become teachers, just start somewhere and look at a list of jobs that you might find interesting. And once you read job descriptions, whether it’s on LinkedIn, or whether it’s on different job websites, looking up job positions that have like the requirements and what you’re going to be doing in the job, find things that sound interesting for you, and then go from there to find majors that apply to them.


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:30

That’s exactly what we teach inside the lodge Career Clarity course, research the careers, you know, that’s module three in our course, is like doing the research you did you dove in, and you were figuring out all the things located the majors that led to the jobs that you might like, and then you got that job shadow that’s like, that’s the next thing we do. You kind of did those in reverse, right? You did the job shadow and then the research, the way I teach it inside the courses, let’s research the careers, then go get up close and personal with them do some job shadows and whatnot, and internships if they’re available, even aligning your extracurriculars with it, and then do college visits, which also allows you to further explore. Are the college visits insightful for you making the decision on chemical engineering? Or did you already know you were going to do it?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  11:25

I would say that I started doing college visits a little bit late. But by the time I started doing college visits, I was 90% Sure I want to do chemical engineering and 100% Sure I wanted to be somewhere within the engineering realm. I toured a bunch of campuses, I went to UK UD, obviously, obvious Oh, it’s you, you see just a bunch of like schools in Ohio, and then a few outside of Ohio, just because I personally wanted to stay closer to home just in case of emergencies or anything like that. But one thing that really made an impact on me and making my college decision was I went to a woman in science and engineering overnight at University of Dayton. And so I got to go there, they took all the engineering girls, and we all just got to hang out in a room, we had food and games and stuff like that. And then they took us on a tour of the campus. And we did like a scavenger hunt. That was engineering related. So we got to see a scavenger hunt of a building that was constructed using this method that we had learned about in our physics class. They made it very applicable to what you would know at the point in time of coming into college as a new engineering student. And so it felt like you were already being included into the environment and into the community, which was amazing. Yeah, that was probably one of the biggest impacts that made me understand I wanted to do engineering in college and confirming my beliefs of what I wanted to do.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:52

I guess what I really want families to hear, this is why I consider you a success story. Really, Natalie, you’ve put in the work, you’ve put yourself out there into her to share a little bit about how you’ve done so through college, but you put yourself out there, you make the time to do the work that’s related to where you have continued to think like, this is the direction I want to go. It can sometimes be hard as we’re gonna share. So you, you get to college. And so there’s women in science and engineering. What did you do with that group?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  13:26

My freshman year coming into college, I remember what the website name was called. But University of Dayton has a specific website where you went in, you found your roommate, and we my roommate just happened to be engineering majors. And so we came to the agreement that we wanted to live in a living learning community just to be kind of surrounded by people, especially going into college with COVID. That was weird to begin with. But


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:50

yeah, you’re that special class, High School Class of 2020. My twins were two stinks.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  13:57

We just kind of wanted to be in an environment in with people around people who would be able to support us both academically and then socially. And so we decided to live in the wise Living Learning Community and Y stands for women in science and engineering. It’s a program that spans way beyond University of Dayton. There’s a Living Learning Community. I know in Ohio State and I know University of Kentucky and Cincinnati. There was three floors in one dorm building. We were all just girls and women in science and engineering. And from that program, I felt the best friends of my entire life. I’m living in a house this upcoming year with five other girls. All of them were in wise and all of us lived on the same floor. And we were all essentially neighbors


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:43

and you still involved with why so going into your junior year, so you’re literally connected with them through the living learning community as a freshman but so what are you doing with wise as a junior?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  14:54

The advisor of wise she was also one of my professors in my classes. is and I knew from Benin wise as a freshman that there was also a wise Living Learning Community House in the student neighborhood. Me and my roommates instead of going through the normal housing process like all the other students, we decided that we wanted to apply to the Living Learning Community ambassadors, we ended up getting the position. And so this year, we’re living in one of the best houses on campus and one of the best neighborhoods as juniors, which is unheard of, we get the opportunity to kind of take freshmen and underclassmen under our wing, and involve them in a situation with upperclassmen women in science and engineering, who have a little bit more experience with the whole college thing as a female in science, and be able to expose them to that and give them a community where they’re able to learn and grow both academically and socially. And that’s something that me and my roommates are all really passionate about just being able to educate and help younger kids get to a point where we are in school.


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:06

So you went from being mentored. So you were the mentee as a freshman, and now you get to be the mentor. And it sounds like you found your people. But it’s also from a professional standpoint, help continue to confirm your fit in your field by what you get exposed to, and wow, what great exposure to like, be able to get closer to your professors to Yeah, that’s amazing. One thing


Natalie Schwartzkopf  16:32

that is really helpful is being in those living learning communities, it not only does it give you friends that are kind of in the same aspects or kind of similar walks of life as you are at that point in time, but it exposes you to all of their studies. So while I was a chemical engineering major, one of my roommates was a civil engineering major another one’s in mechanical engineering, one’s biomed, going on a pre med track, and one of them’s physical therapy. And so all of us are in completely different walks of life, yet, we all have a similar track for college. And so you get exposed to their classes and what their advisors are telling them and possible job opportunities. So if you’re at a point where you’re kind of questioning what you want to do, you’re given a group of girls who might be able to help you stay on the same similar track of life, but maybe switch majors or switch minor


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:27

C are almost like vetting other majors and careers through watching somebody else’s, very up close and personal, you’re living and learning with them. So you’re actually kind of vetting them. I love that you’re sharing of the professional organization that you join, which I always teach inside the launch course that even as a high school, or like just go on the websites of professional organizations, there’s so much to learn about the job. So tell us a little bit about the organization that you got involved with.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  18:03

I’m involved in an organization called IV, it stands for American Institute of Chemical Engineers. It’s a group of all the chemical engineers on campus, we kind of just meet maybe once or twice a month to talk about our classes, what’s going on IV throws events with campus. And so we through a holiday kind of Carnival with a bunch of other engineering groups, we came together we put together chemistry with a game where we were able to have people from not only University of Dayton, but also the community come in and kind of witnessed what we were doing as a group. And as a professional group. That was really cool. We also, as engineers, you might not want to get into sororities, or fraternities or that kind of thing, just with a very strenuous course load, or if that’s just not necessarily your thing. But with fraternities and sororities and that kind of thing. They have lots of formals and dances and things like that. But it this year, we throw in engineering formal, Oh, fun. Engineering students get the opportunity. If you’re not in a sorority, or fraternity or don’t have a significant other universe, like groups, you’re still able to get the formal experience that go Yeah, like a social group.


Lisa Marker Robbins  19:21

It’s really the social side of college last month on the podcast, while we were doing about building your college list, financial fit, academic fit, social fit, and college major and career fit. And I actually had a student success story from one of my former students who goes to Boston College on and she was talking all about finding your social fit on campus, which is still such an important piece of that. The professional organization is not only continuing to teach you about the field of chemical engineering, so you can continue to vet it, make sure you’re on the right path, but it’s also providing some of your social fit it sounds like which is something that Honestly, Natalie, I hadn’t really thought of it as fulfilling that need as well. So that’s pretty cool.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  20:06

I love IKEA. It’s a great group, most of it is funded by the school, we pay dues every month, and our dues go directly to the pizza that we buy for our meetings every month.


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:17

Payment is important. I mean, yeah, let’s get down to what’s really important on the college campus come along,


Natalie Schwartzkopf  20:23

all together on a Monday night at 9pm. There’s got to be some incentive there.


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:29

I’ll be sure to link to that organization in the show notes. For sure. Another reason why you’re one of my success stories, as I literally have not talked to you in two years, but all the all the seeds that we planted back in your sophomore, junior senior year of high school, I’ve watched you through those years continue to show up and do the work. And then because I started working with your younger sister who’s in high school, I hear through your mom and your sister, all the things you do. And like that, Natalie, she just like took the ball and ran with it because she’s still doing all the things that I was teaching her how to do when she was in high school. So you’re in an internship, you are out of state a couple hours away in Indianapolis for the summer, I want to go back to getting the internship because you are inspirational for what you went through to get it. And you didn’t shy away from hard work. So how many internships did you apply to Natalie, before you got one?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  21:31

It was 78, if not more, okay.


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:34

And let me say this was not about you. Internships you have learned have changed greatly post COVID. What did you learn? I think it was your professors told you,


Natalie Schwartzkopf  21:46

most schools and their engineering departments will have a cooperate internship office that are geared to helping you find thoughts or internships. And my class was really the first class that was starting to look for coops and internships, even the co op and internship advisors weren’t really aware of the situations or what it was going to be like post COVID. But what we found as a group was that companies were not responding, you would apply for a job, you would get the confirmation that you applied for the job. And then you wouldn’t hear anything for 3456 months, which was crazy. I thought that I would have gotten an email or an interview or something like that, just from the companies.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:32

Yeah. I mean, you’re a great student. You’re involved. You’re checking so many boxes.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  22:37

It was crazy. I was appalled that I did not hear back at all from any of those companies. Even just what


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:44

I’m applauding you over is you kept applying. You’re hearing nothing back not even at thank you for applying. You kept at it. That’s inspirational, like you kept applying, you kept reaching out. Fast forward to this spring, I guess up to date.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  23:04

Yeah. So this spring, I heard back from the company that I’m working at right now. In about March, I accepted my offer in about April. And that was, which was how


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:13

many months after you applied to this company.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  23:16

I applied in November. So I think it was five months, and I got the offer and six months from when I accepted. So don’t want this heart people know. And one thing that I will say is I checked. I’m kind of an organization freak when it comes to setting my schedules or having things checked off just because I am so hyperactive. And my thoughts are kind of all over the place. I like to have organized spaces. And I would recommend that when you are applying for internships that you make an Excel sheet, where you write down every single internship that you applied for when you applied, and maybe a link to link you to the website where you can check your application status. It just makes it easier to write advice, see which ones you got denied from which ones you got your in progress or which ones you got accepted from


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:05

my word. If it’s taking them five or six months to get back to you. It’s like and who was that? And where did I enter you can just quickly pull it up


Natalie Schwartzkopf  24:13

every single job. A lot of them use a specific website. But every website is different. So you have to create a username and password for every single portal for every application. And so I need to be organized. Yeah, I My God, MBA internships, all of them with a mismatch of different usernames, different passwords. Different questions are great advice. Yeah. And so just having a space where you have all of the links and status reports and passwords and usernames is something that you need to have when you’re applying to internships.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:50

So smart. Say you get this a you go over you told me you and your dad went you secured housing and you started hearing back from other internships that Want to do.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  25:00

And so that was the big thing that companies or the poll office and wasn’t prepared for is that companies were accepting people and accepting pull ups way later than they ever had before. And so I accepted my job in April to start on May 23, of 2020, which even that was a short period of time, it was about a month and a half that I had to contemplate moving to a new state. Keep in mind, I was still finishing school, right finals, taking classes up until May 9.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:37

And so then you get these other ones that were even just like weeks. So tell us about your internship, it so you’re still doing the work to make sure that you’re on the right path, the work doesn’t end. But are you having a good experience? Is it confirming is it denying what you set out on four or five years ago?


Natalie Schwartzkopf  25:58

Hey, above my internship, right now, I’m an environmental engineering and health safety Co Op at the company I’m working for, it’s definitely confirmed all of the things that I’ve picked up from leap, it’s just a really amazing experience, I was telling these earlier, today I walk 60 flights of stairs, which may seem like a lot. But for someone who can’t stand sitting down for more than an hour at a time, it was amazing. And I got to go and I got to walk around the entire plant, which is huge. I got to interact with all the different operators from all the different areas.


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:31

He’s got variety, like you have variety, you’re up and active and moving like all of these things align with your hardwired personality. You know what I, I know a little bit about engineering enough to like start guiding my students. But I found it interesting that you’re in an environmental engineering plant. But you told me earlier, you’re surrounded by chemical engineers.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  26:56

Yeah. So right now my job is both environmental engineering and health safety. So I’m working a lot with one of my company’s goals, which is to be landfill free by 2030. And so I’m interacting with all different parts of the plant, all the unit managers, the department managers trying to come up with action items, so that we can decrease the amount of waste going to landfills. And so that’s like the environmental part. And then the safety part, I’m working a lot with improvement within the different areas, and a lot of the people within the company that are working there, now, you might think going into a job, oh, they’re just gonna want me to not necessarily involve myself because I’m young. But that’s actually one of the biggest pluses that you can have going into one of these situations. And I explained to my bosses just the other day, they’re walking around the plant, doing these audits on different things with a clipboard, and paper and pen. And I was like, oh, like, have you guys ever thought of transferring all this to Microsoft forms? Because right now, they’re taking all the information that they wrote from pen and converting it to an Excel sheet. That was like, you could just walk around with Microsoft forms either on your phone or on the tablets that we have for the operators. And it automatically will go to Microsoft Excel. And they were like, that was the biggest time saver that you could have ever shown. So if you


Lisa Marker Robbins  28:16

win the day, take them all the time that you save them. Yeah. I love that you You did say earlier to me before when we were talking ahead of time that while you don’t know that this is necessarily how did you put it the field that you would want to be in? Yeah, it’s confirmed for sure that you want to do chemical engineering. Yeah.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  28:39

In the plant where I’m working, there’s a bunch of other interns. So one of my best friends that I work with, she’s a process control intern. And her boss is a process management engineer. And one of my other friends, he’s a reliability and engineering intern, and his boss is a reliability engineer. While I’m doing my job, we’re all being able to interact together, I hear their boss’s advice to them for their projects. We’re kind of all walking through our projects together, which is an amazing thing. Because not only am I getting experience with my own projects in my own work, but I’m also getting to see quite large portions of their work and the advice that they’re going through, and how their jobs and their projects interact with the plant and our majors that we picked.


Lisa Marker Robbins  29:27

Well, Natalie, I could not be more proud of you. I have watched you I had no idea all of the things that were going on since you’ve been in college because we haven’t talked since you went to college other than congratulations and best wishes as I sent you off. I think that this is inspirational, like you know the whole goal, the work that we do with the students taking the Berkman getting to know themselves deeply and then searching for those careers that are aligned and then getting up close and personal through them. I wanted people to hear your story because you You have walked it out, you realized early on that some of those other jobs that were up and moving and active and would be good for your energy weren’t a fit in other ways, then continue to expose yourself to different areas of engineering and science. And I have no doubt young lady that two years from now you are going to successfully launch out on your own and do a fantastic job that’s aligned to you. And that’s, that’s what I want for my students. And I know that’s what your parents want for you. So, Natalie Schwarzkopf over here cheering you on. Thanks for sharing your story today. I will put all these links in the show notes so families can get your advice and your links. Good luck going into your junior year.


Natalie Schwartzkopf  30:49

Thank you so much.


Lisa Marker Robbins  30:52

It was so great to catch up with Natalie. I’m currently working with her younger sister who’s still in high school and following the same framework Natalie did a key component to many of the families I work with is starting early, the Schwarzkopf family started being intentional about the college bound journey when each of their daughters were sophomores in high school earlier would have in my professional opinion, then too early. While I do know it’s never too late to do the important work of your student getting to know themselves deeply and investigating careers deeply. There are some college majors at some colleges that will be eliminated if the major isn’t applied to during the senior year of high school during college applications. So your weekly college bound challenge for me is to make a timeline a plan and decide on some hard deadlines for important decisions like selecting a major finalizing the budget and that college list. Then schedule block that time in your calendar every single week to get the work completed. You can thank me later. If today’s podcast was helpful to you. Please share this with a friend who needs it to sharing following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast where I help your family move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and confident about your teens future.