Loving what you ‘do’
February 12, 2010
Most people spend at least one third of their waking hours working. It’s not surprising that the way you feel about your occupation has a tremendous influence on day-to-day happiness as well as an overall sense of fulfillment. According to U.S. News and World Report, 32 percent of men and 28 percent of women think that job/career satisfaction is the greatest contributor to Quality of Life.What does it really mean to develop a satisfying career? Sierra College instructor Christopher Old, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has some of the answers. He says, “The process – and it is a process – is rooted in self-assessment and solid research.” Old points out there are approaches one can take to identify a fulfilling career path: self-exploration using books and resources; meeting with a private counselor – which often speeds up the process but can be costly; and taking personal development classes. Old has first-hand experience with career exploration training, and he understands the benefits. After graduating from college, Old was an international whitewater guide who led rafting adventures for youth and adults. He noted that people were motivated, inspired and charged-up on vacation. After a few years in the field, Old realized that he wanted to have a positive effect on people’s lives instead of just their vacations. He returned to school, earned masters degrees in mental health counseling, and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist as well as National Certified Counselor. He is now a part-time faculty member at the Tahoe-Truckee campus of Sierra College.Teaching classes such as College Success, Personal Development, and Outdoor Leadership, Old facilitates self-awareness and exploration – critical steps in pursuing a fulfilling career. He believes, “People know themselves and can use assessments as a guide,” and he provides the direction and supportive environment that allows people to gain awareness and flourish. He sums up the process:Self-discoveryThe first stage in the process is building self-awareness around natural aptitudes, values and interests. Personality assessments, such as the Meyer-Briggs, coupled with identifying one’s values are vital to finding a career that fits and often results in more success and happiness at work. Part of this stage includes recognizing one’s interests – beginning with a list of hobbies and fulfilling activities.ResearchThe second step is doing research. Sierra College student Marisa Merritt found the research aspect of the personal development course especially useful, “Doing research specific to the career that I want was the best part of the class. I got a broader understanding of nursing and what I want to do.” She added, “You find out a lot about yourself – your personality, values and what is fulfilling.” This semester, Merritt will take the research phase a step further by doing an internship to gain first-hand experience in her chosen field.Old explains that talking to people about their work is really an effective way to learn more about careers. Informational interviews, which are meetings to learn more about a career and for advice rather than employment, are an extraordinary way to learn more about specific companies and industries. Old’s students have reported at first they were apprehensive about meeting with people, but the informational interview turned out to be one of the most valuable aspects of career exploration.Old suggests entering an informational interview and the research phase with two essential questions in mind: 1. Is this a good fit for who I am – does it feel right and make sense? 2. What skills are required to do this job? Old explains, “We all come to the table with skills. Skills are really the commodity we’re selling for a job.” Once armed with the information gleaned from research, further skills training or education may be the next step in making the career of your dreams, a reality.Targeted searchOnce you identify your ideal career path, identifying the education path that you will need to take is an important step. One the skills are in place, the next stage is embarking on a targeted job search through networking and research. Tools such as Sierra College’s online JobLink and alumni association are one natural place for local students to begin.The process is a journey of self-discovery and growth. Students in Old’s courses range from teenagers to mid-career professionals. Some are reassured that they’ve chosen a career that matches their values, and others pursue new dreams based on careful examination. The mix of active working professionals and young adults provides different perspectives and contributes to the rich learning experience embodied in the community college classroom. Sierra College, Tahoe-TruckeeSierra College, Tahoe-Truckee offers personal development and Career and Technical Education courses every semester. Courses are affordable ($26 per unit for California residents) and offer interactive and relevant information. Visit the Truckee campus in person at 11001 College Trail and online at http://www.sierracollege.edu. More information is also available by calling (530) 550-2225.- Nicole Cheslock is Tahoe-Truckee’s Career Education Liaison for Sierra College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• It begins with self-assessment: personality, values & interests• Includes research and learning about required skills• May include gaining new skills and taking college level coursesExplore opportunities through Sierra College’s summer classes. Registration begins in late March 2010.
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