Question: The time has come in my life for me to make a parnassah to support my family. I am having a difficult time choosing what career path I would like to take and what field I want to get involved in. I am generally not a person that has a hard time making up his mind but I can’t seem to settle on something that I think I would be good at and interested in. Someone mentioned that therapists are trained in career counseling so I thought maybe you would have some ideas to help me resolve this. Thanks
Congratulations on making this sometimes difficult decision to engage in a parnassa search! Yes, most therapists do have some elementary knowledge of career counseling. However, you are best off consulting with a career counseling specialist who should be able to assess your specific strengths and interests and recommend accordingly. I will share some general guidelines that may be useful.
Think about your hobbies and interest, focusing both on what are you good at and on what will give you pleasure and meaning. While not every hobby can be immediately translated into an occupation, thinking about the general direction of your hobby can provide you with some direction. For example, if there is nothing that you enjoy more than a good game of baseball, then jobs requiring movement may be a good choice. Conversely, if you enjoy schmoozing very much, a sales position may be the best choice for you.
Another way to approach this is to reflect on your general style of external vs. internal focus. Externally focused people generally approach life with the following skills: creativity, innovation, embracing risk, and working quickly. This often is also accompanied by the tendency to make errors and be overly optimistic. Internal people on the other hand focus more on detail, thoroughness, planning, accuracy, and reliability. This profile, however, is often accompanied by being wary of change or risk and working slower. Awareness of your specific profile along with its strengths and weaknesses can help you focus on finding the right fit to dedicate your career to. When people experience a fit between their own style and the way they work, they are both more effective and value their work more.
There are also a number of normed assessments designed to help you make informed career choices, such has the Self-Directed Search http://www.self-directed-search.com/. The assessment asks questions about an individual’s aspirations, activities, competencies, interests, and other self-estimates and takes only about 20 minutes to complete. At the end of the online assessment, an interactive, customized report is generated.
I would like to conclude by wishing you much hatzlocha in finding meaningful employment. Rav Yisroel Salanter shares the following thought. Chazal tell us that Chanoch while making shoes (tofer minalim) was Miyached Yichudim Likono. Rav Yisroel explains that he was not engaged in any extra spiritual endeavors, but the very process of doing work well and benefiting others is Avodas hashem.
This appeared originally in Yated Neeman. I’d like to thank Dr. Simcha Lax, a career counseling specialist, for his input.