Career symposium can help focus on ‘skills theme’ or occupational range
IT wasn’t too long ago that the career choice for men was to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. For women, the choices were limited to secretary, nurse or teacher. Acquiring a bachelors’ degree meant you had reached the great heights of accomplishment. Those who went on to achieve a master’s or doctorate degree were few and far between.
Rarely did graduating high school students have access to career counselling services; rather if they didn’t follow in their parents’ footsteps, then their choice of occupation was often attained by the old fashioned “by gosh or by golly” selection approach.
While most of these workers are successful today, if you ask any of them how they got to where they are in their career, you may be surprised to learn that many are not working in their original chosen occupations. Their route to success has not been a straight line — there have been many twists and turns along the way. practical services, science, health and technology, and trades and transportation as well as employment services and training and post secondary institutions. In addition, participants can attend a series of one-hour presentations and meet experts in the various occupations.
However, as you might expect, attending a fast paced, two-day symposium can feel overwhelming. As a result, it is important to prepare yourself for attendance and develop a plan for debriefing your experience. Prior to attending the symposium, do some thinking about what you are good at and what you like to do. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of free assessments online that can help you to assess how you think, how you learn and to be more specific about what you like to do.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with the good old-fashioned paper and pencil exercise, especially for adults who are looking for a career change. To do this, you need to list all of the jobs you have had so far in your career. For each job, identify the specific tasks and then ask yourself “how” you accomplished these tasks. Once you have answered the how question, then focus on identifying the skills you utilized in each task. Continue with your list until you begin to repeat yourself; this is the signal the list is complete. Next, group your skills and prioritize them. You will find that the list will be reduced to five to seven skills or competencies. This becomes your occupational checklist.
BELIEVE it or not, job satisfaction comes from doing what you are good at and what you like to do 80 per cent of the time. And in my view, ensuring that you have job satisfaction is your responsibility; it is not the responsibility of your employer.
There is a lot of talk these days about “employee engagement,” which refers to whether employees have a positive emotional attachment to their job and put concentrated effort into their work so that the interests of the employer are advanced. While employers can indeed influence your level of “engagement,” I also contend that employees have a personal responsibility in this area, as well.
In other words, it is employees’ responsibility to ensure they are working in a job where they are motivated, enjoy their work, have the desire to contribute and want to continue to learn and contribute. For this element of career management, I turn to an assessment of personal motivation. What really drives you? What is important to you?
Once again, these type of assessments are available online. However, you can be just as successful in thinking through a number of elements on your own. For instance, do you prefer to be given general guidelines and then be left alone to do the work? If so, this means that you prefer an environment where you have a sense of independence and autonomy. If you were offered a job far from your current home, perhaps in another province, would you accept? If not, you appear to be driven by a geographic motivator; in other words, it is important that you reside and work in an area where you are comfortable, are familiar with and/ or have family nearby.
Do you enjoy organizing and co-ordinating people or do you prefer focusing on detailed technical tasks? One motivator leads to managing people while the other drives you toward a specialist or expert type of occupation. Are you always asking why, why, why? If so, you are the type of person who is always trying to change things or fix things. You need an occupation where you are constantly challenged. Perhaps you are an entrepreneur. Or do you find yourself always helping others? If so, then a social service, health care or legal profession might be the best path to follow.
Making a career choice in today’s fast-paced global world is difficult, to say the least; there are just so many pieces to the career puzzle. And, these decisions should not be made lightly. My advice is to explore, explore, explore. Don’t be pushed into a specialty too soon, but keep a broad view of things until you can see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. Take advantage of the 2011 career symposium, it will broaden your career horizons.