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Priscilla’s Journey with the Strong Assessment

Priscilla’s Journey with the Strong Assessment

By Priscilla Gardea

I was really interested to see my results. When I was younger, my career plans were very erratic. As an elementary student, I wanted to be everything from a firefighter to the first woman president of the United States. In fourth grade, I did a science fair project about the moon and decided I wanted to be an astronaut—a career choice that stuck until high school. But in high school I took a psychology class and was convinced that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. Simultaneously, I was working with the wrestling team, so I thought that athletic management was for me.

Thankfully, debating between psychology and athletic training landed me at Adams State College, in south-central Colorado, since it had programs in both those fields. After a quick stint as a psychology major, a disappointing experience with collegiate athletics, and a fizzled-out flirtation with a business major, I ended up getting a degree in something I enjoyed and was good at, rather than something with a specific career as an end point. I got my degree in English and was often asked if I was going to teach or write. Neither sounded appealing to me, and I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do. What I did know is that I enjoyed reading, learning about literature and literary theory, and then using that knowledge to analyze and write about it.

As I neared college graduation, a mentor brought up the option of going into the field of higher education. I was actively involved as a student leader, so it instantly clicked and felt like a perfect fit. Since then, it’s been the career choice that has punctuated my undergraduate education, led me through my graduate degree, and has given me five years of job satisfaction. I was offered to take the Strong Interest Inventory® assessment as part of my career exploration journey with CPP. With the Strong being such a prominent tool for career planning, and my being in a job that I already loved so much, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

When I first saw my Strong results, most of them were not a surprise, but a few of them seemed to come out of left field. Here are my top five interest areas as indicated by my results on the Strong Basic Interest Scales:

1. Culinary Arts

For a split second this one shocked me, but then it made complete sense. Over the past two years, I’ve learned a lot about food culture, which has led to all sorts of discoveries. Through that journey, I’ve adopted a largely local, organic, and plant-based diet; learned how to cook; learned more about our food systems; joined a CSA (community shared agriculture) chapter, and integrated those ideas into other parts of my life. While it is a very exciting and joyful part of my life, however, it’s not one that I want to turn into a career. I can definitely get my food culture fix through my personal life, rather than my professional life.

2. Counseling & Helping

This one came as no surprise at all, since this area basically comprises my current role.

3. Human Resources & Training

I feel like I do similar enough things in my job now.

4. Performing Arts

This is another one that initially threw me for a loop. I’ve never considered myself to be a performer. As a child, I would dance around the house and sing with my cousin at family gatherings, but that’s where my performance resume ended. In high school and college, I supported performer friends as a member of the audience of their respective theater shows, dance recitals, or concerts. I have always had a strong appreciation for the arts but didn’t think I was inclined to perform them myself.

But Catherine, my subject matter expert, asked just the right questions to bring this interest into a different and clearer light for me. I thought of times that I may have performed but didn’t realize I was doing it. Yes, indeed, this interest has manifested itself in other ways! I thought about a few instances in college that allowed me to grow my confidence and skills through various class presentations. Then, as an admissions counselor, talking to groups of students, families, and counselors. Sometimes, I am scheduled for a high school presentation and I don’t know if it will be to a group of five students or a hundred.

I’ve learned to sharpen those skills through my recent nonprofit work too, which included a lot of public speaking to rooms of hundreds of new faces. And the best part is the thrill it gives me. Although I still consider myself extremely nervous about speaking in public, I have grown to love the presentation itself: the balance of preparedness and improvisation, the feeling of mass connection, and the value of our shared experience and information exchange. Through these new eyes, I can see how a prior appreciation for arts and a new interest in presenting has manifested in this interest area. Finally, it made me realize that presenting is actually an enjoyable facet of my job, one for which I’m hugely grateful.

5. Office Management

Yet again, another area that wasn’t surprising, since a lot of my job involves office work and management.

Here are my top 10 occupations:

(As indicated by my results on the Strong Occupational Scales)

  1. Career Counselor
  2. Mental Health Counselor
  3. Translator
  4. University Administrator
  5. Paralegal
  6. Human Resources Specialist
  7. Nursing Home Administrator
  8. Rehabilitation Counselor
  9. Secondary School Teacher
  10. Community Service Director

A lot of these occupations didn’t come as a surprise either; I feel like a lot of them are components of the job I do now: counseling, translating, working in a university setting. A lot of them are focused on helping and service to others, which makes a lot of sense. There were some careers that I’d never considered, like paralegal and nursing home administrator, but the more I thought about them, the more I saw how I could get fulfillment out of the helping nature of those roles.

My personal style preferences, as indicated by my results on the Strong Personal Style Scales, were as follows: working with people, learning through lectures and books, prefer to lead by taking charge, dislike risk, team and independent oriented. My career motivators were expressing creativity and helping others. All of these analyses were right on target. I can completely see how these results play out in my current work roles, attitudes, and energies.

Overall, the Strong served as a good tool to both reinforce my ideas about my career path and also broaden my perspective about possible career options. These results have helped me extract the specific and tangible traits that bring me fulfillment and job satisfaction, so now I’m able to better articulate what’s important to me in my career. By finding the similarities and common threads, I can paint a clearer picture of what I want my career path to look like. The Strong assessment made the colors of that picture pop.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what the analysis of the results would tell me that I didn’t already know, but it was framed in a way that made me excited about reevaluating my career plan. Now, that plan is clearer and I have a few action items to keep me moving forward. It ended up being a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend it to folks at any point along their career journey.

To learn more about the Strong assessment, take a look at this fun video CPP created!

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