Welcome! I have worked inside a large corporation for the last 20 years. In that time, I have learned a lot about managing my own career and have spent many hours coaching and mentoring others. Last year I was asked to speak about my experiences to groups of women inside my company and share what I have learned.
I found that what I have learned and the different exercises I went through to find my current path resonated with others. I am connecting with more people as I talk about my passion for Career Development. Through this blog I will share some of the key lessons I have learned. I also want to hear from you as you pursue your career.
This week, I am going to talk to some high school students about how important it is to learn about themselves. When you are in High School, you spend all of your time learning certain subjects. Most kids then go to college and in a rather haphazard fashion, they choose a major. No one really teaches you how to pick a major and most kids are unsure if they’ve made the right choice. Never once are you told to study YOURSELF! Learning what makes us tick – self-discovery – can save us a lot of time and aggravation later on.
I hope that through my talk, these students will take away a few key messages.
One – each of us is unique and unrepeatable. You shouldn’t try to be like everyone else. Get to know who you are by embarking on a path of self-discovery. Be conscious of what activities you like, which ones you don’t. Keep an active list that you can refer to and continuously refine.
Two – your parent(s) are great resources. They know you best (you think they don’t know you anymore – but they do – they are smarter than you give them credit for!). Ask them what your strengths are. Are you vivacious, outgoing, comfortable talking to anyone? Are you thoughtful, cautious and like to research before you make a decision? Do you enjoy working odd jobs, balancing your checkbook and counting your money? What do they see in you? Don’t ask them what you should be when you grow up. Instead ask them to describe you – as they would a product for sale – how would they ‘sell’ you to an employer, to a university, to a trade school? Who else knows you well and will tell you the truth? You are looking for your personal brand.
Three – Your path is your own – and it’s not set in stone. You are bound to make mistakes, try new things – that’s okay. Do it quickly – don’t wallow. If you decide that what you’re doing is not speaking to your heart – then try something else. School is a time to discover, to try new things, to fail, to dust yourself off and try something else. It’s better to try new things now, add to your delight/disgust list and move towards distinguishing where your passion lies.
Four – Look backward to go forward – what did you want to be when you were 8, 9 or 10? Did someone dash that dream – either intentionally or by accident? Pull it back out and look at it. What were you pretending to be when you were with your friends or by yourself in your room? Teacher, fire fighter, super hero, doctor, lawyer, dancer, artist, mad scientist? Describe the attributes you see going along with your dream persona. Were you helping others? Were you on stage and the center of attention? Looking for an adrenaline rush, focused on researching why the toaster toasted toast? Clues from your childhood may help you focus in on a career path.
I am hoping that if I talk to these students now, that I can express upon them the importance of self discovery, of studying themselves and what makes them tick. That deeper personal awareness will help them on their journey towards their Career Best! If you were coming with me, what would you tell these kids about your career journey? What do you wish you knew back when you were 16? I look forward to hearing from you. And if you have a teenager – or even a child in college who hasn’t settled on a major – feel free to share my blog with them.