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Not Sure About Your Professional Future? Discover Your Strengths!


Are you unsure about staying in science? Or already sure you want to leave but without any idea what to do instead? Start by reflecting about your strengths! Are you not so sure about it? Ask others! What do your colleagues appreciate and consider you to be good at? How do your friends and family perceive you? Which 3 characteristics do they spontaneously attribute to you? Which professional or private side projects are you involved in and enjoy – maybe sometimes more than your core work?

Instead of working on some skills you consider yourself bad in, build on your strengths! The most convincing argument on this I read on Adam Grant’s blog in his article “A better way to discover your strengths”:

If you want to excel at anything, it’s not enough to fix your weaknesses. You also need to leverage your strengths. When Albert Einstein failed a French exam, if he had concentrated only on his language skills, he might never have transformed physics.

Still not sure what to do in your future professional life? Try new things! What do you always want to do? Do it! Which opportunities are around there? For example, is your boss searching for someone organizing a workshop? Research magazines or newspapers for calls! Maybe you find an interesting workshop to take part in. Or a competition on producing a short video or developing a concept for solving societal problems.

Or how Eric Barker writes in this article “What is life all about? Using business strategy to find your life’s purpose”:

Your life is always a balance of deliberate and emergent — what you plan, and what pops up through serendipity. […]

If your deliberate plan is paying your bills and you find it fulfilling, stay on the path. Pay less attention to the little things that pop up and double down on present course. […]

But what about when you’re not feeling fulfilled? Or when you have a dream but it’s not paying the bills and offering a lifestyle? […] You need to be trying to new things, to iterate. […] What’s rarely required is just more thinking. It’s testing and experimenting that leads to real opportunities.

In his article on “How to find your passion in life”, he furthermore writes:

Want to discover your passion? You need to do new things. Why doesn’t this occur to most people? Fear of failure. […]You know what the funny thing is? It’s never as bad as you think. Really. […] We need to fail to learn. When we fear failure we limit our ability to succeed.

That’s why I recommend starting with small tasks or side projects. From my perspective, you do not need to quite a job as soon as you realize that it is not the job you want to do your whole life. Next, you need to figure out which job you want to do; And this includes whether you would enjoy doing this job and whether you would be good at doing it – which, of course, depends on each other. That is important for self as well as for your future employer who want to be convinced about your fitting to job before hiring you; And what is more convincing than having done similar tasks.

If you tried new things, evaluate yourself! Did you do well? What do you achieved? What do you learned? And not to forget: Did you enjoy it? Thereby, you learn about your talents and improve yourself in doing things you love.

You might also consider doing additional trainings. In some case, it might be necessary. However, learning about things and doing things are two very different animals.

To find out about which jobs fits to your talents and professional profile, do informational interviews and ask about what is needed in specific job!

Now, have fun doing new things!

Author: Katrin Wodzicki

Hi, I am Katrin, the coordinator of the GGNB Career Service Unit.

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