The Career Knapsack

By     Oct 18, 2015
Program Manager, Governor's School for the Arts at Kentucky Center for Performing Arts

Erin Quinlan

CC Betsy Street via Flickr

CC Betsy Street via Flickr

As a recent MA graduate in Arts Management, I thought I had lots of career plan steps under control. That was not the case. Though I’d had a semester-long career prep seminar, a team of cheerleader colleagues behind me and a very clear idea of where I wanted to be, I could not answer the seemingly easiest question, “Where am I now?”

I found myself caught in career purgatory like a little gypsy with a collection of read-between-the-resume-lines experiences in my nomad’s knapsack. I’d packed a couple years of field experience, a slew of graduate level internships (that’s a story of its own!), a whole bunch of research, a few hundred volunteer hours and lots of late night Socratic chat takeaways and expected to arrive at career mecca. I realized then that I wasn’t actually missing pieces to the path puzzle, but needed a tool to put them together. For me, that tool was storytelling through values.

By focusing on values of all sorts in each of the places I’d been, I began to see the big picture for what it is- a matching game. I sorted my values into categories as if I were appraising antiques at a roadshow. They were labelled new, recently acquired, needs polish, needs total rehab, recently enhanced, needed for collection and so forth. This way, I had a story to tell about my pieces and allowed them to be a source of confidence and motivation for my career search.

I am happy to report that I ultimately found success right where I had left it through this value matching conversation with my new employer, The Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts. I left this organization in 2013 to pursue graduate school and staved off regret for that decision sometimes. Now, I realize that you can only carry so much as a mindful wonderer - I had to offload some of my pack in order to expand what I could carry into the future.



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