"You cannot make progress without making decisions."
“Every student asks him or herself an important question when they graduate: What am I going to do now? For different students, different options are available. We found this problem to apply to all students and to have a realistic view as well as interesting alternatives, decision making skills and risk uncertainties involved.”
This was the “problem context” of my group project for our Systems Engineering class (SYST473) about Decision Making and Risk Uncertainty. The next paragraph stated: “We decided to work on the options available to one of our own team members, Jesica. It is important to know that Jesica is an international student-athlete in an F-1 visa status, which only allows her to study in the United States and work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Work is also restricted to on-campus employment.”
As we got into analysing different options, the first point was to focus on different alternatives. In my case we focused on 3 possibilities:
- Alternative 1: Stay in the United States and find a job.
- Alternative 2: Play professional volleyball outside the United States.
- Alternative 3: Stay in the United States, go to Graduate school, and work a part-time job on campus.
Then of course we had to evaluate the different concerns of each alternative, some that came around were whether or not it was feasible to find a professional volleyball team to play. as we were considering professional leagues in Switzerland, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Italy. There was also plenty of uncertainty with respect to alternative 1, since employers have to be willing to sponsor a J-1 working visa and/or a Green Card that allows permanent residency in the United States. Choices about graduate schools, the program of study, and obtaining financial aid to pay for school were other concerns about alternative 3.
An extra factor we did consider consider was the possibility of obtaining an Italian citizenship since my grandmother was born in Italy and entitled me to apply for a citizenship. However, back then we thought of it as a lengthy procedure (and we were correct since it took me about 10 years to get that done!!), but “if it does come through, it will allow her to work and/or play with no restrictions in any country that is part of the European Community.” we wrote.
This was done back in 2006 and although 15 years have passed since then, during the past weeks I was talking about this same dilemma with one of the student-athletes we helped to get to the USA a few years ago and now finds herself at this crossroad of alternatives and choices to ponder and decisions to make. .
It will happen to all of you at some point in your life, for many is deciding what to study out of high school or whether continue studying what you started, whether you should quit sports to concentrate on your working career or quit your studies to reach the top in sports.
My advice, write down everything you wish for, go search for realistic options and analyse objectively each one of the alternatives. Talk to people who has done each of things you are studying and get more info, research, compare, explore, get curious, go as deep as you can on each one and then… make a decision!
There is no guarantee, even if you’ve done perfectly each one of these steps, the outcome will be “the absolute best choice”, but it will for sure become an experience that will shape your life for what still needs to come.
In regards to our “project”, we ended up defining specific choices just as: getting an engineering job in the Virginia area (where my university was), continue with a Master’s degree in my university (George Mason) and work part-time job to cover some of the expenses and go play professional volleyball in Puerto Rico… well, to find out the result you can look up the other pages of this website but I can tell you that we got an A!