On careers

One of the tasks I must complete at my day job is to write useful "career tips" for professional engineers, scientists, educators and environmental hygienists. Thus, I spend a lot of time researching professional organizations, career sites and blogs that boast the latest and greatest approaches to finding the right job.

One of the sites this took me to recommended a friendly aptitude quiz. I couldn't help myself. When I got home I had to take it. The results recommended the following jobs, based on my skills and interests:

  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • Tour Guide
  • Landscaper/Groundskeeper
  • Stock/warehouse clerk
  • Grocery Bagger
  • Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendant
  • Custodian/Janitor
  • Cook
  • Baggage Handler
  • Research Assistant
  • Editor/Writer
  • Production Line Worker
  • Web Developer
  • Data Entry Clerk
  • Nursery/Plant Worker
  • Construction Worker
  • Librarian

I was surprised by these results -- not so much in their accuracy, but by their spread. Sometimes I wonder if I'd be a better writer if my daily work required me to sit or stand for hours, simply observing. In a way, all jobs require one to observe, but in how many is that our primary occupation?

"Dining room and cafeteria attendant" might be one of my favorites. This, I believe, was selected because I had indicated both an interest in working with children and a willingness to lift objects over a certain weight. When I think of the cafeteria attendants I have known, I immediately think of people who can tell stories, whose daily uniforms are in themselves stories, whose lives are instantly interesting.

Perhaps the best part of this list is the fact that the writer of this quiz somehow took the average of all of my dream jobs and actual jobs. The summer after I graduated college, I was working three different, equally wonderful jobs: tutoring college students, leading poetry workshops at a summer camp for teens, and giving college tours to incoming freshmen. I remember the afternoon it struck me that this is the way I would live a fulfilling life: simply juggling multiple interesting projects, as each project satisfied some passion or creative challenge. It seemed genius...until I realized that I'd have to pay out of pocket for health insurance.

I really wonder whoever wrote the algorithm for this career quiz. I wonder how many jobs they have. I wonder what stories they'd tell.