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.