Finding a Professional Identity

2 minute read

Some months ago, I wrote about “developing my sociological identity”. My interests are (still) solidly interactional, with maybe a slight focus on how individuals react to and within structural concerns. Granted, this could describe sociology as a whole as well — so I’m maybe not as focused as I thought?

This cornucopia of interests would seem to be a Good Thing, right? But for someone who is graduating within 8 months, this can also look like vagueness. Being able to present some sort of clarity of purpose will help both me and a prospective employer decide if we are a match.

Something resembling a professional identity1.

Coaching

Luckily, Aarhus University have come to the same conclusions. Thus, students have the opportunity to get career coaching before graduation. I chose the course offered by Martabolette Stecher, after perusing the introductory material.

It has been quite interesting so far, about halfway in. (Re)articulating defining character traits and strengths is all well and good - this is, after all, what I will bring to the table when it comes to employment.

But the real “whoa, dude!” moment came when I was asked to visualize my thoughts for the future on a dreamboard.

It’s okay to dream

My dreamboard as of october 2019

Articulating — not to mention dwelling on — my hopes and dreams was quite enlightening. In my personal life I want some leisure time back. Going back for a Master’s has meant that I’ve not had time to start an RPG campaign or visit my siblings as often as I’d like, for example. But I also want more of what I have — family, pets, maybe own a house and drive an electric car.

But the job thing… that was hard to pin down. I imagined a scenario where I’d get out of the salt mines and into an office. I do something a lot of people find inscrutable, and it involves a fair bit of computer work. Thus, the combination of qualitative research, coding in R and Python, but also presentations and meetings and publications.

For this example — I have no knowledge if such a position even exists; much less if I could qualify. I’d need to do a butt-ton of learning NLP and R, at least…

And that’s just one example. I’d probably be happy many places where I can play on my strengths:

  • Analytical inclination
  • Structured nature
  • Desire for actions to have purpose and affect change
  • Initiative and drive

Which probably is also why this aspect has been hard to pin down.

Where to now?

This week’s assignment is to actively assess possible career choices on three axes:

  • energy
  • competence
  • passion

And follow this up by actively seeking feedback from people in one’s network on how to proceed.

Current ruminations (after stalking job listings) include

  • teaching future generations of social workers
  • research of some kind, possibly similar to the scenario above
  • some sort of work in the administration and directing of social work

But the weighting is hard, much less figuring out who to ask for comments.

The future is my canvas. I shall gather my colors.

  1. As expressed by one of my classmates, this is somewhat of a daunting task to undertake on ones own. With my background as a social worker, the job description was also (mostly) the professional identity. Not so any more.