While in high school, I had always been the one to galvanize my friends, resolve conflicts and motivate them to achieve. When I was in the 10th grade, I asked my mother for a subscription to Psychology Today magazine because I wanted to attend college and major in Psychology. However, before that, I spent some time in Kenya as an exchange student.
Over 30 years later, I still love people and helping them achieve their goals and finding their passions. I work as director of the career center at Queens University of Charlotte and hope to share some lessons I have learned and people I have experienced over the past 18 years as a career counselor through this weekly blog.
Today, I want to talk about discovering your passion.
After graduating from college and before becoming a career counselor, I worked as a claims representative for an insurance company. Nothing against careers in insurance, but the routine, paperwork and structure was a bit much for me. The job was not suited for my personality at all. Four years later, I was fortunate enough to locate a job as a career counselor and took a cut in pay. But one year later, I was director of a career center earning $10,000 more than my job as a claims representative and much happier. I am thankful for that less-than-satisfactory job in insurance and use that experience to motivate others in my work to find suitable careers.
When someone comes into my office because they are dissatisfied with their career, the first thing I tell them is to stop, look and listen. For one, stop and take inventory of things they enjoy doing, and let that be the guide to determine a career path. Dig deep. I can think of nothing worse than working 40 hours per week at something you loathe. There are several tools out there that can help you uncover your interests, skills and values such as the Myers Briggs Type Inventory, The Motivational Appraisal for Personal Potential and The Workplace Big 5, The Campbell, etc. These inventories will also suggest jobs that you might find interesting based on your personality type.
Look around you and see who is successful, what jobs are hot and, last but not least, see if you have the interest, experience and skills to do the work. Some of the best entrepreneurial ideas come during tough economic times. A friend of mine recently started a hamburger restaurant with very reasonable prices and a fun atmosphere and is doing very well. As it turns out, many people are choosing less expensive restaurants to stretch their dollars and still entertain the family.
Conduct informational interviews with people in careers that you think you may enjoy. Informational interviews are very good tools for several reasons. They help you to build your network and also to get helpful career advice.
Finally, listen to your friends and family. They probably know you well enough to identify your strengths and weaknesses and some will provide the information solicited or unsolicited. For instance, my friends often tell me that I am inquisitive, ask a lot of questions and have a good voice. Therefore, I would have been a good news reporter. Well, I could certainly see myself doing that type of work had I chosen to pursue it.
If you are in the mood for some reading, I would suggest three good books, Do What You Are by Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger, Is Your Genius at Work? by Dick Richards and a book with a Christian focus, Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on the Queens University Web site, were Bill Means writes a career column, Blogging with Bill.