College & Career Planning: Turn your passion into a career
January 20, 2013
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Confucius hit the nail on the head almost 2,500 years ago, and it’s still accurate today. The opportunity to pursue an avocation over an occupation makes a world of difference in one’s job satisfaction.In this regard, one of the greatest privileges high school parents and educators are blessed to experience is the opportunity to mentor young people in the development of their calling in life. As the high school years represent a pivotal period for young adults to consider their future, the availability of devoted counsel is vital. And given the unique perspectives they have on a young person, the chance for parents and educators to partner is this endeavor provides even greater support.There are countless ways to go about forging this partnership. And regardless of the exact approach, a key building block upon which this relationship should be constructed is that of unanimity in assisting a student explore the possibilities associated with his/her passion and in articulating the necessary steps required for the student to reach the specified goal. This is where it can get interesting.Love manifests itself in many ways through conversations like these. Sometimes it even takes the form of parents taking on an overly-assertive posture in “suggesting” what sort of career their child should pursue. To be sure, a parent reserves the right to ask practical and thought-provoking questions. It is, indeed, good and proper for parents to bring realistic and real-world questions to this discussion. What must be balanced, however, is diminishing a student’s passion for something, particularly one who has demonstrated abilities, skill sets, and/or discipline that would suggest they should be given the chance to pursue their dream.Data released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), http://www.shrm.org, in its 2012 job satisfaction survey shares that the ability for employees to use their skills is the number one aspect that contributes to job satisfaction. According to the Executive Summary in this report, opportunities to use skills and abilities replaced job security for the top spot in the list of most important things to employees. Job security moved to second on the list.Job security and compensation are surely significant factors for most individuals when considering job and career opportunities. But it is noteworthy that neither of these items was the leading factor when employees considered job satisfaction. As an interest exercise, high school and college students pondering their future may even wish to look at this in a whole new way. What would they pay to do?Now, let’s be clear here, Mom and Dad. I am not advocating that after all your hard work, sacrifice, and college tuition checks that your student should throw caution to the wind and become a professional volunteer. Not at all.What I am suggesting, though, is that students become better educated on available processes and resources to help connect them to career opportunities that take full advantage of their talents and their personality traits. And one of the most interesting and informative ways for students to learn this is by taking a career interest inventory assessment.There are seemingly dozens of career and personality inventory assessments online these days. Some are free and some require a fee. The difference between them is that often the fee-based programs provide a longer and more in-depth report.For those interested in experiencing a free assessment, I would recommend the one offered at http://www.keirsey.com/sorter/instruments2.aspx. This temperament sorter was created by renowned educational psychologist David Keirsey who developed this instrument as a vehicle to assist individuals with gaining insight to their personality for purpose of using the information to make informed career choices.This assessment has 71 questions, each with two potential answers. It is important to know that this assessment is not graded. Its only purpose is to, as the instructions to assessment suggest, “understand yourself as you really are — not the way, for example, you must react in your job, or others expect you to behave.”As the questions are developed with the purpose of providing an honest analysis of the respondent’s personality, honest answers are, of course, important. After taking the sample test myself, I found myself thinking that it would make sense to suggest others interested in taking the assessment invite an honest friend or family member to sit in to help ensure integrity in the responses. There were a handful of questions where I could have used a strong sounding board.When the respondent reaches the end, the assessment will ask for the participant to create a login and then press the “Score it” button. This will take the respondent to a screen that reveals the name associated with his/her personality and the initials for the name (e.g., Guardians-Providers – ESFJ). This screen will give you the opportunity to purchase a comprehensive report, but this is not necessary, unless you want to. You can instead go to the tool bar across the top of the keirsy.com website and click on “The Four Temperaments” and then click on the one that applies to you. This area will give you an overview of who you are and the types of careers that would fit you well. Interestingly, it also provides the names of famous people who share these characteristics.Considering which career path is the right one can be tricky. But when one focuses on his/her passion(s) and utilizes the right resources, the results might mean never having to work a day in your life.• Brian Underwood is the executive director of Sierra Lutheran High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.