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Self Assessment of Your Life

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What Do You Want To Do With Your Life? Ironically, the most dreaded question you'll ever have to face during the course of your college years will not be asked in the classroom. Instead, it will be asked while you are home during Spring Break of your senior year. Your mother or father will come up to you with that anxious look and then before you have a chance to bolt, they'll pop the question: "So what are you going to do after graduation?" Your silence will be deafening, as will their yelling and screaming about how much they shelled out for your education, and that they better get a good return on their investment. And, as if that isn't bad enough, before you know it everyone else will jump on the bandwagon.

Aunts, uncles, grandparents, distant cousins, neighbors, and even local shop keepers will ask what you'll be doing after graduation. It's no wonder so many recent graduates want to relocate thousands of miles from home.

Where to Go

The Best Cities for New College Graduates (from Managing Your Career, the college edition of the Notional Business Employment Weekly, published by The Wall Street Journal} Note that large markets have more than 500,000 jobs in their economy, medium markets have between 150,000 and 500,000, and small markets have fewer than 150,000 jobs.

Large Markets
  1. Salt Lake City, UT
  2. Indianapolis, IN
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Louisville, KY
  5. Greensboro/Winston Solem, NC
Medium Markets
  1. Madison, Wl
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Lake County, IL
  4. Raleigh/Durham, NC
  5. Omaha, NE
Small Markets
  1. Sioux Falls, SD
  2. Provo, UT
  3. Boise, ID
  4. Santa Fe, NM
  5. Rapid City, SD
Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which Is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”

Whether you are still in school or have already been around the block a few times, figuring out what you want to do for a living is no easy task. There are tremendous pressures, both internal and external, to make a quick decision. A common tendency among students and recent grads is to jump right into the job hunt and accept the first offer that comes along. This can be a huge mistake, and is often the start of a vicious cycle of drifting aimlessly from job to job.

So why is this issue being raised in a book on resumes? Because, dear reader, until you figure out where you're heading with your career, writing an effective resume will be next to impossible. It would be like creating an advertisement for an unknown product that will be marketed to an unknown audience. How can you decide what skills to stress on your resume if you're not sure what you want to do? And how can you address the needs of a prospective employer if you don't even know the field in which you want to work? Now don't get us wrong. We're not saying you won't be able to find a job just because you don't know what you'd like to do for a living. Of course you'll be able to find a job, but the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it being the wrong job.

It's kind of like those muffler commercials . . . you can pay now, or you can pay later. It makes more sense to do some serious self assessment now and figure out what you really want to do than to jump at the first job that comes along. Better that you bag groceries, scoop ice cream, or walk dogs until you sort things out. Those of you who are one hundred percent sure about what you want in a career are truly fortunate. The rest of you, don't worry. A careful reading of this chapter and a few years of psychotherapy and the answer will come.

Interest Inventories

Discuss with a career counselor the possibility of taking an interest inventory such as the Strong Interest Inventory or the Campbell Interest and Skills Survey. Both inventories are available at many college career planning centers, or through private career consultants.

Interests inventories are not tests there are no right and wrong answers. It is impossible to fail. What the inventories attempt to do is measure your level of interest in several basic areas (math, science, art, teaching, sales, law, and so on) and compare your pattern of likes and dislikes to those of professionals in a wide variety of occupations. The premise of interest inventories is that birds of a feather flock together.

Thus, the more similar your interests are to the interests of a certain occupational group, the more likely you are to be comfortable within that group. One thing interest inventories do not indicate is whether you have the talent or training necessary to pursue a given field. For example, if your interests are identical to those of fine artists, but you have trouble drawing a stick figure, it may not be a wise idea to pursue a career as a painter. Interest inventories do not provide any magic answers. They only provide information which, when interpreted by a skilled practitioner, can assist you in figuring out what the #$%'? you want to do.


Most college students and recent grads are incredibly modest about their abilities. During the course of a typical career counseling session, a client often remarks, really don't have any skills” or ''1 don't think 1 have much to offer an employer." This simply isn't true. Let's get one thing straight college graduates are among the elite of our nation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about one in four Americans have earned a bachelor's degree. This education endows the average grad with dozens of marketable skills. The problem is he just doesn't know it.

What does this have to do with choosing a career? Everything. If you want to enjoy your work, it is absolutely crucial that you use your talents on the job, especially those you enjoy most. These are the skills that turn you on, rev you up, and get your motor going. Possessing a skill is meaningless if you don't want to put it into practice. For example, imagine that you are a very talented computer programmer, but would rather analyze the rhythm patterns of Brazilian samba than write a program. If that's the case, you might as well stuff your programming skills into a hard drive and toss the hard drive out of a fast moving vehicle.
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