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Past Experience

The old expression says that “past is prologue.” Read Allen’s letter about understanding the meaning of your past experiences in career development:

Understanding our preferences is just the beginning of finding our career. When we look at how our interest and personality have actually played out in the world, we begin to better understand where we fit. To better understand our past experience, I suggest a fairly involved exercise.

  1. List your past jobs, volunteer work, and hobbies.
  2. Take a stack of index cards. (Do this exercise on the computer if you must but sometimes low tech works. I believe that touching and sorting the cards helps with the understanding but you choose your way. )
    1. List every attribute of the job both those that would go into a job description and those that would not. Leave out nothing.
    2. Skills used
      1. Tasks performed
      2. Daily activities
      3. Professional expectations
    3. Put one item per card on the index cards. Number the cards in two ways:
      1. First use a number to signify the job, volunteer work or hobby
      2. Follow this number by a period
      3. Then number each of the tasks, skills, etc of that job. (Such as, 1.3)
  3. Place the index cards in three stacks
    1. Stack 1: I would like to do this again
    2. Stack 2: I don’t care if I do this in the future
    3. Stack 3: I don’t want to do this
    4. Keep these stacks and add other projects, hobbies and jobs to the list as you go forward in your career. You can use these to help you understanding how you are changing.
  4. Look at the stacks—What do they tell you about
    1. What you might enjoy in a job?
    2. What you do not want to do?
    3. How are your career interests changing?

This is not a quick exercise, but it is worth it. Try it and let us know how it goes.

Allen

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