What I Should Be When I Grow Up

One of the perks we get from my program at school is access to a career-assessment program that asks a bunch of questions about your interests, motivations, and skills and then tells you want kind of career suits you. Now, personally, I love the job that I have now, but I was curious to see what this program would say about the matter. Plus, I *love* filling out surveys.

My Interests

The “interests” section asks you a bunch of questions about stuff you like to do (related to business/work) and compares your scores against the responses to other business professionals who have also completed the assessment. My top interests were pretty much what I would expect:

  • By far my top interest was: Theory Development and Research – “Interested in high-level abstract thinking about business issues, and the theory (as well as the practice) of business strategy. Enjoy doing in-depth research.” – Who would have thought that a researcher would be interested in research? I actually scored higher than 97% of people on this one.
  • My next two biggest interests were “Coaching and Mentoring” and “Influencing Others” – again, not surprising given that I also teach for a living!
  • What was a surprising was my low rating for “Quantitative Analysis” – apparently my interest in “solving business issues by “running the numbers”” is lower than 85% of other business professionals! Given my quantitative research training and the fact that I teach statistics, this was unexpected. But I guess in recent years I’ve been doing a lot more qualitative research than quantitative, so perhaps that’s had an effect on me.

My Motivators

This section had you rank a bunch of potential motivators against each other to see what characteristics of a job would be most important to you.

  • The most important thing to me, it turns out, is having a job that gives me “ample time to pursue other important aspects of my lifestyle (family, leisure activities, etc.)”. This one came as a big surprise to me at first. I mean, I take a lot of pride in my job, and a lot of my identity comes from my job. But then I remembered that in addition to working hard, I like to play hard. And really, I wouldn’t be happy to spend all my time at work and not have time for hockey and running and blogging and cooking and reading and visiting my family and hanging out with my friends, now would I?
  • Not surprisingly, the next most important things in a job for me are having a lot of autonomy, being intellectually challenged, job security, and variety of work1.
  • The least important thing on the list of 13 motivators was working for an organization with a lot of prestige2.

My Skills

Skills were ranked based on your self-confidence at those skills, so you have to take the results with a grain of salt, where the grain of salt = you could be totally wrong about your actual abilities. There is an option to have others rate their opinion of your skills, which I totally forgot about doing until I look at my assessment report and saw that part was blank3.

The three skills where I’m “significantly more confident than other business professionals” are:

  • recognizing opportunities
  • oral communication
  • projection of confidence

I think these three all fit. I’m a big talker who acts like she knows what she’s talking about. And I definitely jump on opportunities when they arise4.

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

Analyzing all of the above, the system then tells you which professions have “satisfied, successful business professionals” in them that are similar to you, which suggests that those professions are ones you should consider. My top matches are:

  • management consultant
  • non-profit management (higher education, government, and human services
  • marketing and marketing management
  • entreprenuership
  • management of new product development
  • R&D management
  • strategic planning

The first two on the list are basically the career track that I’m on, so it’s nice to know that people like me are successful at that! The jobs that I should never have are apparently investment banking, sales management, or supply chain management5.

Where Should I Work?

The last section of the analysis tells you about the type of organization you’d like working in. For me, a good organizational culture is characterized by:

  • extroversion & decisiveness – Anyone who has ever met me for more than a fraction of a second will not be surprised by the fact that I’m extroverted6. The decisiveness thing is little funny, because while I do love being decisive at work, the moment I get home I’m Captain Indecisive – though I suppose that’s probably just decision fatigue. At any rate, it says that in this type of environment “people view meetings, discussions, debates, and negotiations not as annoying distractions from the “real” work, but rather as the work — and they enjoy it. Similarly, while some people view social and business networking as an unavoidable chore, they see it as a fundamental — and fun — part of their work.” And I have to admit that this is pretty bang on for me. I *love* networking – it gives me a great thrill when I can match up a person to another person, resource, or position based on the networks that I maintain. Similarly, I get energized by a meeting where I get to toss around ideas with others7.
  • innovation & change – I’m also much happier when I’m creating, inventing, or improving, than just maintaining. “You may see quite clearly the value of having people around who keep things running. You just don’t want to be one of those people.” True dat.

So, though there were a few unexpected things in this assessment, overall, it pretty much validates the career track that I’m following is a good one for me and helps me to more clearly articulate the things I like about my job, so that I can continue to cultivate those.

What about you? Are you doing what you want to be doing when you grow up?

  1. I get bored really easily and I like to learn new things, so I actually thought variety would have come out even higher than 5th place for me. []
  2. I don’t really care about prestige – to me, that’s more about appearances than substance. []
  3. Now I’m curious though, so perhaps I’ll ask some people to fill it out for people. []
  4. When creating a strategic plan recently, I (jokingly) suggested that we include “being opportunistic” as our main strategy. But it’s only because we’d had some big successes that resulted from us answering when opportunity knocked! []
  5. My SCM prof will be so disappointed – only 2% of successful supply chain managers are like me! []
  6. I remember doing a similar type of assessment about working style back when I used to run a science outreach program and despite being in a room full of very extroverted people – these were all people who volunteered to go to elementary & high school classes to do presentations, experiments, and activities to get kids excited about doing science – I was stil off-the-charts more extroverted than everyone else in the room. []
  7. Of course, there are some meetings – mostly ones where there aren’t debates and theory generation or any decisions being made at all – that make me want to commit seppuku. []