Students Finding Meaningful Careers
To serve a growing need, one role I serve in is as career counselor rather than a doctor. More and more students come to me and ask for structured help with career guidance. I realize that most career counseling tools are somewhat superficial in nature, kind of like a lab report you might get if you get your cholesterol checked. Meanwhile, over the years I have applied my advanced behavioral science training to helping people find careers that truly match with their unique combination of motivations, needs, natural aptitudes, interests, passions, personality tendecies, and life goals. We develop a vocational profile that can serve them for the rest of their life, no matter what point they are at in their professional life. This is a disciplined in-depth process that helps people turn themselves “inside out”.
Using standard tools complemented by more in-depth techniques, the result of this process is two-fold: 1) People identify several occupational matches with a high “goodness of fit” matching key characteristics of their personality/vocational profile, and 2) People more realistically understand what personality tendencies they may need to correct or strengthen no matter what profession they eventually choose. For example, we may determine one option is they could be a veteriniarian, but we find they may have some social anxiety. Heading this off can prepare them to have a much more enjoyable and successful daily existence.
Through over a decade of working with high school and college students, I have found very few students use a thoughtful and disciplined process to finding a meaningful career. That is probably the major reason why people on average switch careers 5-6 times these days. This lack of a rigorous approach to career discovery is also a likely reason why the first 3-5 years after college or high school are the most stressful students have ever experienced up to that time. These young people wander around in a fog because they still have no firm sense of themselves or occupations that would truly fit their personality.
Instead of using a systematic approach to finding a meaningful career, students often use the painful process of “trial and error”. For college graduates, this means working at a string of jobs that they hope will eventually lead them to the right job. They may have some sense of who they are and what they like, but they have never gone through a truly thoughtful process where they gain a broad and deep understanding of their natural aptitudes/preferences/personality traits and derailers.
Using this sort of process is sort of like thinking “if I find enough jobs that do not work, I will eventually find the job that does work”. The problem is there are 1,000′s of jobs, and students could avoid the pain, money, stress, and lost time of the “trail and error approach” if they worked with someone who could help them do two things efficiently
1) Systematically eliminate large sectors of the work force quickly
2) Help them see their personality profile more clearly so they can recognize what their interests, apititudes, deepest passions, needs, and skills are now. I call my process “Personality Career Fit” or “PCF”.
PCF objectively assesses interests (what someone has natural interests in), passions (what someone is most deeply passionate about), skills (what someone is already skilled with), and goals (what someone’s ultimate life goals are in terms of money, values, etc). We also integrate in a person’s thoughts about what they want to be able to say about themselves by the end of their life. I call this the Professional Obituary.
You would be surprised at how mazture young people get when asked these deeper questions. Through the PCF process, we arrive at 3-5 occupations that have high “goodness of fit” and then the student uses college classes or life experience, informational interviews, volunteering, and shadowing to further hone this list.
With the PCF method, college classes are strtegically used to either confirm an interest or eliminate certain career options. College becomes a ramp-up to a career, and this is the way it is meant to be. Rather than college being a time of choosing a major because a friend has that major, or because one has a vague interest in some area, college is used as a place to systematically find a career.
Think of the money saved and the agony avoided if by the end of college a student has chosen a field, or at least has narrowed down their list in a mature and sound manner using the science of personality and aptitude assessment.
Many young or mid-career professionals have also benefitted from this process as well. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work as a professional. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing I helped someone find a meaningful career. We gain so much self esteem and meaning from the work we do. Finding out what work may fit our personalities best is worth investment because if we find the right career, it is not just a job, but a lifelong vocation. That is priceless!