Career Counseling #ForTheWin

This post was originally featured on The University at Shady Grove’s student blog “Around the Grove” on December 9, 2016. Read my other posts on “Around the Grove” here.

One absolutely incredible (and did I mention free!!!) service available to any student taking classes at the Universities at Shady Grove is career counseling, a set of two or more conferences with a professional on-campus psychologist designed to help you find options for a career path that fits your personality and priorities for your work life. Whether you’re a person who hasn’t even decided on a major or you’re a grad student not sure what direction to head in after graduation, this is a great service to take advantage of.

I had the chance to go through the career counseling process this month at USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation and learned a lot. Personally, I’ve been pursuing a career path in the museum field for the majority of my undergraduate life, but I have a wide variety of interests, which makes it hard to settle on just one career field. Lately I’ve been questioning whether I’m going down the right path, especially with graduation on the horizon!  I thought I could benefit from some extra guidance and scheduled an appointment with the CCC.

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So many options…which job do I pursue?!

First, I met with Dr. Kandell, the Counseling Center’s residential psychologist, to discuss my general thoughts about my future career: what career options I’ve considered in the past, what my career goals are now, and what some of my concerns are with the career I’ve been working towards. This first appointment can feel a little redundant, especially if you’re already given your career a lot of thought, but it’s just the beginning of the process, so don’t give up yet! You’ll learn so much along the way.

My next step was taking two online tests on my own time between appointments gauging my personality type and the kinds of work that interest me. The combined tests take a little over an hour and consist of simple multiple answer questions. Dr. Kandell discusses the results piece by piece with you during your second appointment, providing you with your own print-outs of the results for reference!

One test is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, which you may have heard of before. Even if you’ve taken the test before, Dr. Kandell interprets the results as they relate to your career. I’m a bit of a Myers-Briggs nerd, so I already knew my personality type, but Dr. Kandell pointed out some of the implications my personality type (INFP, if you’re curious!) could have on both my career interests and my decision-making process in choosing a career.

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A snapshot of part of the print-out of my Myers-Briggs test results.

The other test is the Strong Inventory, which focuses on personality in terms of careers, determining what type of work you enjoy (research, creative thinking, helping others, hands-on work, etc.) and other elements you should look for (or avoid) in a job. Even more helpful is that it uses a survey done of successful people in a variety of careers to match your results up with careers where people with the same scores as you enjoy working (my top results: librarian and musician.)

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The first (of many!) pages of my Strong Interest Inventory test results…love how it’s color-coded!

The third step in the process is completing a Values Card Sort, an activity to help get you thinking about what you want most in a job. Of course, you can also schedule more appointments if you find you want to continue exploring the things that may come up during your sessions.

Counseling is a really enriching experience and we are so, so lucky to have such top-notch professional services available to us on campus for free! The process has helped me to learn about myself and brought to light some important things to consider not just in my search for a fitting job, but also my general well-being.

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