Think back to when you first started planning for college or looking at college courses. How did you decide which courses to take? Who or what influenced the area of study you decided to pursue?
Learning more about yourself is sort of like driving down the highway—it’s important to know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re headed. This lesson will help you through this process.
To choose a lasting and satisfying career, it is important to gain insight on what you value, what interests you, and your overall work preferences. This type of analysis is called self-reflection. Thinking about your behavior and beliefs is an important part of your self and social awareness skill which helps to guide your growth and development.
What you value at home might be different than what you value at school or work. When setting goals, it’s important to identify the context. For example, you might value humor when you’re with family and friends, but valuing humor in the same way in the workplace could be unproductive and not align with company goals.
Remember that our values are not always static. They can change as we grow older and experience more things. But for many people, values tend to provide a long-term foundation upon which many things are based.
When you enrolled in college, you probably heard the question, “So what do you want to be?” from your friends and family. For some, the answer comes easy but for others, it’s difficult to know. In both cases, one usually answers the question by listing all their main interests to see which option could lead to a specific career.
Our interests act like fuel for an engine. When selecting a career path, look for things that energize you and fuel your curiosities.
EXAMPLETamara is interested in a career in chemistry. She looks forward to the challenging lab work and research that lies ahead, but she also appreciates nature and the outdoors. Tamara prefers a chemistry discipline that will balance lab time with time spent in nature. She plans to become a geochemist (geo means earth) or water chemist, but she has already ruled out pharmacology (medicine).
The number of career preferences is immeasurable—there are simply too many options to list. Maybe you prefer to work in a factory instead of an office. Perhaps you want to work for a small startup instead of a large, established corporation. No matter what the options are, remember to be honest with yourself when it comes to your preferences.
EXAMPLEIn America, there is an inherent cultural belief that males generally perform better at mathematics than females (Correll, 2001). But the empirical evidence found to support this notion is weak. This cultural bias leads to stereotypical perceptions of a person’s math abilities, especially at an early age.
EXAMPLEA young woman who is the first person in her family to attend college, may wish to study engineering. But, she may face criticism from family or friends who do not believe in the value of a college education and who also believe that engineering is only a career option for men. As a consequence of these continued objections, the young woman decides to set aside her goal of pursuing a college education.
These examples show the unfortunate results of how cultural bias can affect one’s career choices. Women who aspire to become mathematicians, physicists, and engineers may be discouraged to do so, even though the beliefs about math are unfounded. These examples stress the importance of looking inward versus outward, and being scrupulous about what you see and hear to maintain your self-confidence. To avoid cultural bias in any situation, you need to respect others beliefs and cultures. You also need to know yourself. This is a key part of your self and social awareness skill which will have lasting effects on your relationships with others.
Reflecting on our own skills, values, interests, and preferences is not always easy. The picture can get murky with so many legitimate career paths to follow, and your interests can change over time.
The good news is there are many tools offered by organizations and universities that can help you gain insight about yourself. Some tools are free and others charge fees, so be sure to read the fine print or consult with a career counselor before using them. Below are just a few.
|the way you direct and receive energy||the way you take in information|
|energized by other people and taking action||energized by one’s own ideas and experiences||focus on perceptions through the five senses||focus on patterns and seeing the larger picture|
|the way you decide and come to conclusions||the way you approach the outside world|
|decisions based on truth and logic||decisions based on personal values, society, and harmony||take an organized, planned approach and come to conclusions quickly||seek out more information, taking a flexible and spontaneous approach|
At the end of the test, each participant receives a personality designation based on the four preference pairs. An ESTJ, for example, is a person who tends toward extroversion, sensing, thinking, and judging.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?’ ”
Social responsibility is acting in the best interest of society as a whole. It means making positive contributions to all facets of society including the environment, human rights, government, healthcare, education, and economics. Social responsibility is often referred to more casually as the greater good.
Few would argue that the skills, academic training, and life experiences you’ve been acquiring since you were a child belong to you. But your story really doesn’t end there. With a college degree on the horizon, one intriguing question ahead of you is, “how might you share your wonderful gifts and talents with society?”
Correll, Shelley J. (2001). “Gender and the Career Choice Process: The Role of Biased Self‐Assessments.” American Journal of Sociology. 106(6):1691-1730.
The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (2020). “MBTI® Basics.” Retrieved 11/19/20.
The Myers-Briggs Company. (2020). “How the Strong Assessment Works.” Retrieved 11/19/20. www.themyersbriggs.com/en-US/Products-and-Services/Strong
MyPlan.com, L.L.C. (2020). “Career Assessment Tests: Values Assessment.” Retrieved 11/19/20. www.myplan.com/assess/values.php?sid=91e8f086a3f8c3c4051ff27f4eddbecb
Rath, Tom. (2020). Life's Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World. San Francisco, CA: Silicon Guild Books.