Do you love connecting with people? Are you good at managing projects Do you have empathy for others?
Perhaps the most common approach to finding a good career is to identify your personal strengths and then look for paths that match them. But what about the areas that appeal to you that are more or less far away from your skill set?Well, perhaps you should ask both ‘what are my natural strengths?’ and also ‘which strengths are worth building?’
Quite often graduates are feeling confused because they are not sure if they should focus on their natural aptitude or on the areas that sound appealing to them when applying for a job. And that is absolutely normal especially when the biggest risk is limiting yourself based on your current strengths and ignoring your potential to develop new ones. Let me make this clearer with an example. A student might think of himself as an introvert but at the same time, he might have a keen interest in public relations. Initially, a role in the communication department of a company might seem interesting but out of the student’s comfort zone. And this is where self-questioning practice comes into the ‘game’ to find out if the balance eventually favors your natural strengths or your interests.
But how to approach this dilemma especially when you are at the beginning of your career?
First and foremost! BE A CURIOUS LEARNER!Look at your areas of interest, your strengths and your weaknesses. Evaluate the rate of improvement in your skills compared to others with a similar level of experience and training. You might not be that good at data analysis. But have you ever considered taking an extra online class? Have you made an extra effort to be more careful when it comes to detail? Have you taken that extra mile before rating your data analysis skills?
Energy and motivation are also crucial factors. Observe yourself and think about what you find energizing and motivating. Do you feel more motivated when working alone on a spreadsheet or do you find it fascinating when working in a 1 to 1 meeting even though you think of yourself as an introvert? What really triggers you? During your time at the university, it’s possible to do well at a subject you don’t find energizing but aligns with your natural skills, but it’s hard to keep this up for 10+ years doing the same task right?
Be open to feedback. You can definitely develop a more accurate self-perception by listening to what others have to say about you. Of course, giving and receiving feedback might be a difficult process. However, feedback is a very powerful tool to help aid continual development and learning. It will help you to increase your self-awareness and believe me self-awareness that you would like to work on especially when comes to career development. So, what’s the plan? Start by making a list of individuals that you appreciate opinion and reach out to them with no second thoughts. Try to absorb more information and concentrate on listening and understanding rather than being defensive. Make some notes and think about your relationship with the reviewer (Does this feedback come from a reliable source? Is this feedback helpful and effective? Who knows, you may learn something worthwhile for yourself that you never thought of.
Think broadly about what counts as a strength. Especially for students who have limited to zero experience in a professional setting, it is crucial to consider relationships, resources, and reputation as well as activities when comes to strengths. Think of the way you consider your cognitive abilities and your character traits when sociaizing, when working on an academic project with your fellows. University is like a representation of the community where all the students’ voices are heard and respected. Think about your role in this small community, what are you good at and what you would like to improve within the next few years and why.
Most people seem to agree that building a successful career is more about capitalizing on your strengths than improving your weaknesses however, being a young professional entering the workplace with confidence, self-awareness and a proactive attitude of challenging yourself every day might take you to a career path that you have never thought about before. At the end of the day, a challenge can be a huge source of joy, happiness, and fulfilment — if you dose it well!
Have a good one:)