“What are you going to do with a degree in psychology?” This was a common question posed to me throughout my undergraduate experience. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…you name it, everyone asked me that question. As the first woman in my family to pursue a college degree, the pressure to “become someone important” was incredibly daunting. Despite my assurances that I knew exactly what I was doing, the process of “Discovering my Direction” was just that…a process that needed to be undertaken with a spirit of discovery, exploration, and experimentation. I was much more comfortable with articulating what I wanted to do than what I wanted to be. During National Career Development Month, the Career and Professional Development Center is challenging students, alumni, and administrators to think not just about what they want to be (job title) but what they want to do (impact/meaning). Many times, a person’s job title does not indicate the underlying motivation for choosing a particular direction. What I want to be is a career services professional in a higher education setting; what I want to do is improve the lives and futures of college and university students, providing them with tools and skills that they will use for the rest of their professional careers.
How can we help you in identifying what you want to be and what you want to do? Discover Your Direction is the first phase in the Career and Professional Development Center’s Career Cycle and can get you started. In this phase, you can learn more about your knowledge, skills, abilities, accomplishments and the values that drive you. When you know your strengths and what brings you joy, you can create your own route toward personal fulfillment. It starts with asking questions and utilizing the many resources available to you at UB. What are those resources?
- Focus2: An online, comprehensive tool that helps you to assess your interests and motivations and explore possible careers that match your unique qualities. You can use this on your own by registering on Focus2 (available on the CPDC website) to complete assessments and then meet with a career coach to further discuss the results.
- StrengthsQuest: An online assessment tool with roots in positive psychology that helps identify five of your natural talents. By focusing on areas of strength rather than on weaknesses, you can capitalize on what you do best. Not only will employers want to know your strengths, but these motivating talents can help you in identifying why you want to do what you want to do.
- Strong Interest Inventory: An interest-based inventory that you can take with the assistance of a career coach. It allows you to measure your interest in a broad range of occupations, work activities, leisure activities and school subjects and match yourself with people who share those interests and are happily employed in a fulfilling position.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: A personality preference inventory that you also take with the assistance of a career coach; it helps you to learn more about yourself and your work style and preferences.
After you have completed and processed some of these helpful tools for self-assessment and reflection, consider talking with the career coaches in the CPDC about celebrating what you have already accomplished, what you would like to accomplish, and how to articulate a professional goal (knowing that it might change as you uncover more about yourself). Our hope is that when you get the inevitable question, “What are you going to do with a degree in ____________?”, you’ll be poised to answer with confidence and to articulate what you want to be and what you want to do.
By: Tracy Carter, M.S., Career Coach