What do You Want to BE when you Grow Up?
Kids get asked that all the time. I remember getting asked that question in 8th grade (a million years ago!). My parents and most of my family members were teachers. I knew I didn’t want to do that. But what else was there beyond the familiar family business? I had no clue.
It took me years to figure out how to apply my problem solving, communication and arguing skills in a way that made sense. Even then I backed into my career. I turned my love of history and my writing / arguing skills into a career in labor relations then human resources. If I knew then what I know now I would pick something else. I would love to be in Supply Chain, Process Improvement or Industrial Engineering because those fields really fit my skill set.
These days I meet plenty of adults who still cannot answer that question to their own satisfaction. Folks who stumbled into a career early on then discover it is not what they really wanted. My son and daughter couldn’t figure it out either.
My son Dan bounced around from random service jobs until he decided he wanted to be a blood technologist. Ever heard of such a job? I never did either, but he is happy as can be in his new career identifying buggers in blood and bodily fluids.
My daughter Marissa started out with leadership roles in campaign politics. Campaign politics requires lots of geographic movement as the operative moves from campaign to campaign. She really enjoyed it until she wanted to settle down. Then she went back to school for her MBA and settled into a new career in healthcare supply chain consulting. Still roaming but more focused this time around with a longer future ramp.
At the core to both career choices is to understand what you are good at. Simple as that.
Both Dan and Marissa did a lot of introspection to understand their strengths, what they are good at, and what they are most interested in. No sense finding a career in a field that does not leverage one’s strengths. Dan loves detail and really doesn’t like interacting with lots of people. A career in a hospital lab away from people really hits his strengths and interests. Marissa loves to solve problems. People naturally follow her so a career convincing people to see the problem her way really appeals to her. Put either of them in a different environment and they would not be as comfortable or happy.
When you build your career around your skills and interests, everything else falls into place. It is much easier to create the job search materials, easier to explain your career choice and more fun to go to work every day.
Start with the end in mind by understanding what you are good at, what you like, and what kind of environment in which you want to work. Take the long view then go after what you want!
Interested in finding a career you can live with for the long term? Check out “5 Tips to Kick Off a Successful Job Search or Career Transition” to explore what you want to be when you grow up.