Humans are complex beings, so while much research has been done to understand and inform career choices and decisions there is no “test” or easy way to assess one’s ideal career path. Add to that a rapidly changing world of skill requirements and competencies necessary in the world of work and the result is significant confusion over “what do I want to do when I grow up?
Areas of Inquiry
There are however three key areas that most psychologists perceive useful in making informed choices about one’s career: Skills, Interests and Motivators or Personality.
Skills: Skills are difficult to measure and tend to change. We are constantly acquiring new ones and old ones get rusty. Most assessment instruments use a self-assessment approach to uncovering the “things one is good at”, however most people tend to take skills for granted or assume that they are not transferrable. A tried and true method, used at the Freeman School is the Accomplishment method, reflecting on the things that students have done in their lives (not just work) to add or create value or make a difference.
Interests: Interests are easy to measure and in a general sense do not change much after high school. The challenge occurs because most of us are interested in a multitude of things, making it difficult to narrow the choices relative to a career decision. In addition, it is often difficult to separate vocational interest from non-vocational or hobbies. Hence the expression, “I love it but it would be difficult to do it full time and make a living out of it”.
Motivators: Motivators or personality factors are what make us want to get out of bed in the morning. It is no secret that if we are motivated we will deliver greater performance and if we love what we are doing and whom we are doing it with, the bad days will be fewer and “not so bad”. Personality factors are difficult to measure but most instruments can identify key motivators by ranking needs in order of importance
The intersection of all three areas or “Career Elements” - Skills, Interests and Motivators produces what has been called the “Ideal Job Preference”: interest in the subject, skill to produce the outcome and motivation and passion about the work.
The Freeman School uses a variety of Career Assessment tools to assess some or all Career Elements, depending on program and matriculation. Here is a partial list:
- Do What You Are
- CareerLeader, Undergraduate
- Career Leader, Graduate
- The Birkman Method
Using the assessment results in consultation with a Career Consultant, along with completion of the accomplishment exercises, Freeman students make much better decisions about careers and career direction in the early stages of their academic experience. Later, when Freeman students are contemplating jobs and offers they can refer to the Career Assessment results again for “best fit” before accepting or declining an offer.