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Monday, November 10, 2008

Career Paths

During my first few therapy sessions we discussed my career, why I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, and what I might want to do down the road. In order to get a better idea of what I’m “suited” for, my therapist got me to do a few different tests.

Test #1: Self-Directed Search (SDS)

The SDS was created by John Holland, PhD, and is supposed to help to explore possible career paths based on likes and dislikes in the categories of activities, competencies, and occupations. There are 6 career types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. Here are my scores:

R = 15
I = 40
A = 15
S = 35
E = 31
C = 39

You’re supposed to take the three with the highest numbers that will be your summary code. Mine is ICS. Then, you can look up jobs by the summary code to see what might be good choices.

There are no jobs for ICS listed. None. Nada. Zilch.

Then, you’re supposed to look for jobs that have summary codes of the same letters but different orders (ISC, CSI, CIS, SIC, SCI). Two whole jobs came up: Research Assistant at a university and Accountant.

Test #2: Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS)

This test takes your areas of interest and compares them with those people in different occupations that share the same interests. It clearly states that interests are very different from abilities.

The results of this test are much more detailed than the SDS. The first part gives a score on each of the 34 basic areas of interest, and your dominant areas are those with a score of 80 or above. The second part gives a rating in 10 general occupational themes.

It then compares your interests to over 10,000 university students. The results rank the similarity between your interests to each of the 17 student clusters (i.e. major fields). My top 3 are Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

They then do the same matching technique, but with job groups. My top 3 are: Accounting, Banking & Finance, Machining/Mechanical, and Engineering.

Test #3: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

This is more of a personality test, rather than on career/interests. There are 8 personality types, put into 4 groups: Extroverted/Introverted, Sensing/Intuitive, Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perceiving. In general, people are primarily one or the other, and your personality type is given to you as four letters based on your scores. My scores were:

E/I = 0/100
S/N = 53/47
T/F = 55/45
J/P = 59/41

So, my personality type is ISTJ: the duty fulfiller. Reading the personality summary, I have to say that it agrees pretty well with what I am like. It suggests careers: Business executive/administrator/manager, accountant, police/detective, judges, lawyers, medical doctor/dentist, computer programmers, military leaders.

Now, as interesting as these tests are, the more interesting thing is the results I personally get out of them. In all three tests, the results are ambiguous. In the SDS, you could see I could have easily had an “E” in there instead of the “C” or S”. In the second, the top three job matches were only “neutral” matches. In order for it to be meaningful, the matches should be “moderately high” or “high”. In the Myers-Briggs test, you can see that the S/N, T/F and even the J/P ratios aren’t very far apart, and I could have easily gone the other way.

So, what does this mean? Well, according to my therapist this is a good thing because it shows I have a wide range of interests AND abilities – that I can go into many different careers and be successful.

To me though, it just makes things even more confusing! Should I stay in astronomy, or go into something related like geology or engineering? Or should I do something completely different like sociology, interior design, accounting or teaching?

There's an even a bigger problem…I’m interested in doing ALL of these!! I feel like I'm starting a square one and have no idea what direction to go. HELP!!