The first resource I share with my students is ONET Online, a website run by the Department of Labor where you can explore careers based on the Holland Code Themes: artistic, conventional, enterprising, investigative, realistic, and social. The careers for each theme are organized by Job Zone, or the level of training required for each profession. Many of my students look at this list and immediately discount careers with lower job zones – but that’s because they’re thinking of their future career, the big thing they’re going to do for decades and decades. Right now, they’re teenagers with only some high school education, perfect for professions in job zones 1 and 2.
For instance, one of my top themes is enterprising, which makes perfect sense considering that I run my own small business. But another job under the enterprising umbrella is barista, my college job. Looking back, being a barista required a significant amount of sales and customer service, explaining complex beverages to Starbucks newbies. It’s also important to clearly communicate your needs and priorities to your coworkers in the middle of the after-school Frappuccino rush. And you could say calling out drinks thoroughly and in the correct order is a form of public speaking (double tall nonfat vanilla latte!). These are all skills I learned as a barista that I still use regularly today. Which is why I encourage my students to think about what kind of career they will be inspired and satisfied by 20 years from now, but also what kind of job you might like to do this summer.
When I look back on my professional and extracurricular experiences, there are common threads. That’s not because I always knew exactly where I was heading and planned accordingly. Rather, it’s because I’ve always followed my interests (and I’ve been privileged enough to get to do that). That’s what I appreciate so much about an assessment like the Strong, that there is room to move between being a barista and running your own college counseling business, that both jobs can be a good fit for you at different times of your life. And instead of trying to find that one perfect lifelong career, you can just look for the one that’s right for you now.