Is there a “test’ for that?
Fortunately, yes. Unfortunately, no. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Certainly assessment instruments like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, SkillScan, and StrengthsFinder have a role to play in helping students discover themselves. They can confirm aspects of personality, skills, interests, and values that you likely already know about yourself, but perhaps have never been able to put into words. They also can reveal aspects of yourself you’ve yet to discover because you’ve been so busy trying to be someone else – the person you think you should be – as well as offer ideas of work environments and/or career paths in which you are likely to thrive.
The down side is that too many students look to assessment tools to provide them with answers. Answers that are right and sure and convenient. Answers that will fix the nagging fears associated with not knowing what they can or should do.
I love these assessment tools. They can serve you well. But nothing replaces self-assessment. Only thing is that takes time and “a willingness to jettison preconceived notions about success” (Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads, p. 30). Introspection does not come easily to many but with the help of a good listener whether friend, parent, advisor, or career counselor, students can begin to discover direction as they discover themselves.
I encourage you to do a little self-assessment activity each day. You might begin by keeping a journal in which you record thoughts or observations as they apply to your career. Of course, you’ll have to first begin paying attention – noticing – what’s happening internally as you respond to various external events stimuli. Another activity might be to begin asking family, trusted friends, or mentors to give you honest feedback about how they perceive you as a leader, follower, friend, student, or employee. What do they notice about your strengths? Where are your contributions most evident? Where could you use a little polish? What, in their estimation, may potentially hold you back from truly succeeding? What suggestions do they have for you to work on or consider? What specifically do they notice that makes you happy? Proud? Keep a record of this feedback as it likely will begin to reveal a pattern to help you see yourself more clearly.
As always, we are here to help.
-Sharon M. Givler, director, career development