When Career Assessments Are Wrong


Jen’s Gem: How you started out in life may be very different to where you are today. 

In high school, I took a career assessment. Its results indicated that I would make a good plumber. This was laughable at the time however, in today’s economy, being a plumber is one of the most secure jobs around. Given my recent pork chop bone in the toilet incident, these skills would’ve come in handy.

When I think about this vocation for myself now, it does make a bit of sense. My undergraduate degree is in Management Information Systems and I clearly remember sitting in my first computer class loving how those puppies worked. You put data into them and voila! You could program them to spit out just about anything. Not quite the same as clean water in your house but similar.

Recently my kids and I took an updated version of this assessment. Since both of them are dipping their feet into the pools of future career decisions, I thought this test would provide them with some insights.

The Apple Didn’t Fall Far

While I’m still awaiting my son’s results, my daughter and I reviewed ours the other day. To say we are nearly mirror images of each other would be an understatement. Not only did our “codes” match up but the career choices were so similar that I nearly fell over.My daughter is crazy smart. She’s carried a full load of honors classes since middle school and her GPA puts her in the top seven percent of her high school sophomore class. Like I said, crazy smart.

She could easily head down the path of being a doctor or lawyer or CEO one day. At the ripe ol’ age of 15, not quite a decision she needs to make just yet despite promptings by teachers and administrators all too consumed with pressuring kids otherwise.

While I did graduate in the top 10 percent of my own Catholic high school class, it was oodles smaller than the humongous public high school my daughter attends. There was no pressure like there is today to decide your lifetime career during puberty. Not many kids even went to college back then. When I headed off to college, I not only had no idea what I wanted to be, I’d no idea what I wanted to study! It took nearly four years to decide to study computers.

Pursuing my MBA was a decision made almost solely on the fact that my employer paid my tuition. When I started my course of study, I found myself in a similar position as in my undergraduate pursuits. Nothing appealed to me until one evening when I sat in a Marketing Management class.  The rest is history.

Problem Solver Extraordinaire!

Armed with technology and marketing degrees, I was easily able to speak both languages and bring two diverse groups of people together to solve business problems. I thought I’d have a long career however, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know this was not to be the case.The speed of technological improvements is happening faster than a body can stand and marketing has become almost all digital. In short, while my foundational knowledge still applies, I have lost interest in wanting to keep up with the times. Sure I love a cool app on my phone, but truth be told, many times I need my kids to help me figure out the nuances.




When I reviewed the results of my recent career assessment I did not see career choices like plumber or computer tech but rather counselor, human resources specialist and department manager. Huh? Clearly the pieces of parchment hanging on my wall which validate my “expertise” do not qualify me for these positions but guess what? My experience and my natural talents do.

I’m a natural problem-solver, people person and communicator – all skills needed for these roles. As Lady Gaga states – “I was born this way.”


What Is Your Purpose?

While I may have started out down one path, it’s clear that it has been well-worn. It might be time to re-invent. If I can combine my expertise with my experiences – woo hoo! Happy dance!This is what I wish for my daughter – to pursue a college choice and a career that celebrates all of her glorious ‘parts’ – not just her brain but her heart and her spirit so that she can be all that God created her to be. Let’s face it, we’re more than pieces of paper and letters after our names.

God created us for a purpose. Simply, this purpose is to serve others in whatever way we are gifted to do so. Whether it’s fixing someone’s toilet or fixing a kidney or fixing a broken heart, if done from the intention of love and kindness, then that’s a win-win for everyone.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)



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