Why I switched from Chemical Engineering to Industrial and Systems Engineering

The scariest thing for me when I started college was the idea that at 18 years old I thought that I needed to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was worried that I would be locked into the major I applied to and got in for, and would never be able to change.  This is something that I’ve come to learn is SO far from the truth. Honestly when applying to Viterbi it’s okay to be just kinda interested in engineering and learn more about it in college. When I was applying to USC I honestly didn’t even know what chemical engineering was. I just knew that in high school I really liked chemistry and physics so I thought it would be a good fit and I decided to take a chance on it. Even on my first day in my chemical engineering class I was reassured that these thoughts were normal and that I was completely fine.

One of the most appealing parts while I was considering schools was that I would be able to take actual chemical engineering classes during my first year at Viterbi. This ended up being HUGE for me because it 1) helped me figure out what chemical engineering actually is and 2) I was able to use this experience to decide in my sophomore year that I wanted to switch. Not only did these major specific classes help influence my decision, but the Freshman Academy class helped as well. In this class I got to learn about what ISE is and what is included in the curriculum.  That definitely sparked my curiosity but ultimately the biggest thing to prompt my switch was the internship that I had in my summer between freshman and sophomore year. I was doing project management (something I believe to be is more aligned with the ISE curriculum than CHE) at a tech startup in Manhattan Beach and I REALLY enjoyed it and could even imagine myself doing something similar after I graduate from college. It was this positive experience that got me thinking about the direction of my education.

Luckily for me it was a really easy process to actually switch my major. All it took was two emails, one to my counsellor at the time and one to the person who would be my counsellor once I switched. With the new counsellor I was able to create a plan for what the rest of my time at USC would look like to help me figure out if this switch is what I really wanted. This was honestly the hardest, but most rewarding decision I’ve had to make since choosing which college I wanted to go to. My best advice to freshmen coming in or even current students on the fence is to follow your heart and do something you’re passionate about.

Alexandra Rennie

Alexandra Rennie

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Palos Verdes, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @_alexrennie On campus I am the current captain of the USC Spirit Leaders, an ambassador for the Wrigley Institute of Sustainability, and a member of Greek Life

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