Career development is a significant aspect of human life. Our career development begins at an early age with imagination and play. As we grow, hopefully we are learning the skills to do work that we love most. Career Development is defined as the lifelong process of managing your work experience or your employee’s work experience within or between organizations.
In 1988 when I graduated from San Jose State University in San Jose, California, USA, I wanted to earn a living as a writer. I needed to get a job, so I chose another interest area in which to develop skills. I had my Bachelor of Arts Degree with Great Distinction in Political Science. I enjoyed the subject of politics, so I worked on for a political campaign in the summer and fall of 1988. I quickly learned that working in politics was incongruent with my values. I wanted to change the world, making it a better place. Manipulating people to vote for my candidate seemed to just be adding to the poor state of the world. I was interested in collaborating with people in community to build a just world.
In order to earn a living, I began working in government – the County Assessor’s Office, Registrar of Voters, Family Court, the Department of Drugs and Alcohol, and the county hospital (Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital Services). These government agencies had cultures that were different than my values. It was difficult for me to work in these organizations. In 1991, I decided to apply to graduate school in Counseling Psychology. I had read many books about psychology and attended lectures so I knew that counseling was an area of interest.
I had been so self-conscious about my anxiety that I feared taking a psychology class as an undergraduate student in college. It was a courageous choice for me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at Santa Clara University. It was a terrifying gauntlet to face my fears about how I appeared to others. Even though I had spent 5 years in psychotherapy and worked hard to become healthy, I feared that I was too flawed psychologically to ever be an effective marriage counselor. What I came to believe was that in order to be effective as a counselor, I needed to be objective – not perfect psychologically. I also learned that my challenges can give me empathy for the challenges of my clients.
After I graduated from Santa Clara University with my Master’s Degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, I went to work at the publisher of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as a corporate trainer. I began teaching a psychology course at Heald Colleges and continued to work as a counseling intern at Almaden Valley Counseling Service. I was making much more money that I ever had. I was very busy working about 50 hours a week as well as commuting to 5 locations. At Consulting Psychology Press, I was advising psychiatrists, psychologists, corporate trainers, and career counselors from all over the world on leadership development, team building, and career development. I was enjoying doing my Work – my Soul Work.
Over time and with patience, I was able to develop my skills in areas congruent with my personality, interests, and values. It made all the difference. Even though I had my challenges and complaints, I was able to do work that was meaningful and satisfying. When we are able to build skills directly related to our Soul Work, we feel differently about our work. With a direction to our career path, we add meaning to our work. We are not just getting a paycheck, but getting paid to learn things our Soul longs to gain. And even after doing counseling for over 20 years, I am still learning everyday how to get better.
When you are out of work or seeking to move to a new employer, it is critical to know more about yourself than you know about the job market. Most people who are making a change in their job think that searching online for jobs listed, reading and responding to classified ads, taking various types of career tests, or talking to a career consultant of some sort will help them find a job. Yet in reality, these actions are helpful only if you invest the time and energy to learn about yourself and develop a plan for your career. Most people buying a car or home invest a substantial amount of time. Isn’t the work you will be doing for years just as important?
If you have interest in career development for yourself or others, please read “What Color is Your Parachute” from Richard Nelson Bolles. The work you put into building the skills to do work congruent with who you are will bring you a higher quality of life and satisfaction.
Career Development is also important for managers. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on Career Development and its role in managing employees: