CliftonStrengths: Restorative

By: Taylor

Before coming to UMD, I had absolutely no idea what the CliftonStrengths were. All I was aware of was that I needed to take it for class (UMD Seminar) and that we’d be discussing it in class. In all honesty, the test instructions say it takes about 30-45 minutes to finish it, and well…I finished it 15 minutes before class was going to start. My top five strengths ended up being restorative, woo, input, learner, and consistency. Restorative is a strength I never realized I had and have only began to see more in myself.

Restorative defined by Gallup, “People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.” Before taking the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment I never considered myself a good problem-solver, but after I realized a lot of situations in my life revolve around having it as a strength. Often times in any given situation, if a problem arises I am quick to find the solution and move onto the next issue.

Image: block letters
Text: Strength in Restorative

I’ve found that often times this strength can have its downsides when used socially. Sometimes the speed in which you solve a problem can be seen as lack of sincerity or empathy towards the situation. It’s important to your peers to understand you’re trying to lend a helping hand, and remembering to be patient with others who don’t necessarily have restorative as a strength. Having restorative as a strength, you could also find yourself constantly figuring out your peers’ problems. Remember, sometimes they’ve got to do it themselves.

When it comes to the workplace and determining someone’s career path, being a restorative you’re frequently looking for a new challenge to solve, lean towards a job that will do just that. Some examples CliftonStrengths give on their website are jobs in medicine, consulting, computer programming, or customer service (just a few of many). Despite the frustration that follows with dealing with customers, I’ve unintentionally chosen a major (Communication) that will require a lot of human and customer interaction following plenty of problems to solve.

If you’ve find yourself without restorative as one of your top five Strengths, it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at problem-solving. All career paths are still open to anyone with any specific strength, with that we’re able to combine strengths with others to create a dream team. Finding and using your strengths are important in understanding yourself; knowing some of the awesome characteristics you have and knowing what you lack as well.

Of Possible Interest:
Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Taylor’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Amador Loureiro

How I Figured Out What I Want to be When I Grow Up

By: Eva

Before college, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. From middle school until junior year of high school this was my dream profession until I began to worry I wouldn’t make enough money. At that time, 16-year-old Eva didn’t understand that success is measured in thousands of ways and depends on who is holding up the ruler. When I started college through PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) a couple months later, I enrolled in pre-business classes, but one economics course steered the fate of that short-lived decision. In the following years, I would scramble to find the perfect career that would make me rich, successful, and better than “normal.” I felt a lot of pressure to perform and compete against other students for scholarships, grades, and recognition. This mindset might have been the perfect environment for some people to thrive, but for me, it meant that my goals were made with skewed parameters that required unsustainable levels of energy. I think a lot of people have felt the way I did my first few semesters of college.

Before I go on, I have to acknowledge something super relevant to my experience. I am a young white woman from a middle-class family. I think many people in college, whether first-generation or legacy, white or POC, able-bodied or disabled, can feel pressure from their families and communities. My particular brand of pressure is inseparable from ableism and white privilege.

After my brief stint as a business major during PSEO I switched to nursing. I got my CNA license, enrolled in pre-nursing classes at LSC (Lake Superior College), and was given my first pair of super-cute teal scrubs as a high school graduation present. I loved that as a nurse I could help people in such a direct way. However, after three years of caring for elderly people as an aide, caregiver trauma started to seriously impact my mental health. That realization was incredibly difficult but necessary because it helped me understand my limits.

succulent with grey pot; Text: How I figured out what I want to be when I grow up

I explored my options: I was always told that I wrote well, but I was repelled from an English or Writing degree because of the (untrue) stereotype that graduates with liberal arts degrees are unsuccessful. I tried for several months to transfer to UMD for a biology degree but the core science classes at LSC only counted as electives at UMD. I couldn’t afford another five semesters of college and that fact allowed me to ignore that I was still headed in the wrong career direction. Another area I had done well in was laboratory procedures, which sounded like an acceptable route. I signed up for Medical Lab Technician classes at LSC. There were parts of the classes I really liked, such as drawing blood, looking through microscopes, and learning about pathology. Overall, I felt overwhelmed and disappointed with my choice.

By this point I started to realize that I had been shoving myself into a box I didn’t fit in. I had been trying to make my idea-centered brain work with numbers and logic. Not only was this wasting my strengths, but because of the low enrollment cap on the program I might have prevented someone else from succeeding.

When I looked back I realized that whenever I’d talk about being a nurse or lab tech I felt like I was talking about someone else. All of the prerequisites and checklists felt like I was a hamster in a wheel and not someone about to begin the rest of their adult life. Back to the drawing board. My favorite classes had been sociology and anthropology and many of my role models had similar degrees. After a lot of Google research, I decided that anthropology would be a great place to start. After three and a half years of college, I finally figured out my priorities – and was proud of them.

But wait! There’s one more twist to this story. My first full-time semester at UMD I began working as a Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services. I remember talking with the counselors about all the careers I thought I might like, but after years of chasing the wrong degree I knew I still did not feel right. Part of the student employee training involved personality and strengths assessments, all of which hinted (shouted) that I should consider counseling. I liked the sound of it, especially because it allowed me to help people hands-on, but caregiver trauma is a relevant issue for counselors I couldn’t ignore. Then I had a “could have had a V8” moment when the thought occurred to me that I should look into career counseling.

I could help people, have a useful career that took advantage of my strengths, work in a position that aligns with my values, and have a reliable income. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders, almost literally. The pieces clicked together with an ease I had never experienced before. I know that I might change my mind in the future. At least for now I have a plan, which is more important than the plan actually happening.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Eva’s other posts 

Photo Source: Unsplash | Scott Webb

Strong Interest Inventory Assessment: Does it Really Help?

By: Paying

Like many others, I’ve always had in mind what I wanted to be and once I hit college I became very confused on what would really be best for me. Yes, everyone is super willing to give advice and try to lead you in the ‘right’ direction. However, the advice can be so broad that it doesn’t change anything: “Do what you love,” and even, “Maybe you should go talk to someone in the field you’re interested in.” Don’t get me wrong, I definitely agree with this advice but it wasn’t until my personal experience in the Career & Internship Services Office that I truly started to think about my career path.

Weather vane; Do career assessments really help?

In my senior year of high school, I was set on the idea of being an English teacher abroad. However, I felt as if I was not social or outgoing enough which led me to go into college undeclared. After my first year here at UMD, I declared an English major because I loved to help my friends edit their papers and thought to myself, “If I love editing so much, why don’t I just make it a career?” So that’s what I picked. I’m glad I’ll be doing something I like but, I still wasn’t 100% confident.

Fast forward to now, my junior year of college when I decided to take the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment. It looked like every other assessment I’ve taken before and I honestly did not expect much out of it. I went into the appointment with a career counselor ready to hear what I usually hear, and I got so much more out that one-hour appointment than I did in most of my life.

During my appointment, the career counselor I was with asked me, “So tell me, why did you choose this editing path?” After I explained my story of how it felt nice to help edit my friend’s papers, she questioned, “Do you enjoy editing or do you enjoy helping your friends?” That simple question left me speechless and I did not know how to react. This whole time I thought I enjoyed editing. In reality, after I dug deeper into it, maybe it was the satisfying feeling of helping others instead.

This appointment has sparked something in me I can’t quite explain. I do enjoy editing and I’m not going to stop pursuing it. At the same time, I feel like there’s more I can do while being in an editing career. I plan on reaching out to different editors to see where they got their start and what an average day looks like. I’ll also look for other careers that an English major will be useful in such as Teaching English as a Second Language abroad. Strong Interest Inventory assessment showed me I enjoy helping others, and it also showed me I’ve changed since high school. Nothing is concrete or certain and it’s okay to change things up.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jordan Ladikos

Putting the Assessments All Together

By: Logan

The career assessments offered at the Career and Internship Services Office are very beneficial in many ways. These assessments can help you target your strengths, where your interests lie, or find out more about your personality. Some people just take one or two of these assessments and learn from the individual results, but by taking all three and comparing results you can learn a lot more about yourself. You can observe where similarities may lie, or where there may be some differences. In my experience, comparing all three assessments helped me realize more about myself, and it helped me realize how I can incorporate these results into my everyday life.

My favorite assessment by far was StrengthsQuest. I really enjoyed seeing where my strengths lie and which strengths were the most prominent in my life. My top five strengths are consistency, harmony, positivity, includer, and futuristic. I found it helpful to learn this information because I can see where I excel, and I can also see where I may need improvement. After receiving my results, it made me more aware of these strengths I possess, and I felt more inclined to use them in my professional and everyday life. An example would be the fact that I have consistency as a top strength. I use this in my job by providing the same customer service experience to everyone who walks in the door. I treat everyone the same and do not give special treatment to some. I think consistency is a very important skill in my line of work. So just realizing what your skills are can benefit you in many different ways.

It is important to look at similarities between the different assessment results. By doing this you will make sure you get the most out of the assessments. I began to look more into my results to see if there were any similarities I could find. One theme I found throughout all of the assessments was communication and being social. On the Myers-Briggs I showed preference as an extrovert, and on my Strong Interest Inventory my highest theme was Social. I thought this was very accurate and I was not surprised this theme came up in each assessment. I like to work with people and I like to communicate with others, so I think it is accurate to have social themes on each of my assessments.

Another theme I noticed multiple times was being futuristic. As I said before, Futuristic is one of my top strengths on StrengthsQuest, but I saw evidence of this in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as well. I showed a preference for Intution, which means I will probably prefer an occupation that permits me to focus on the future, envisioning the possibilities of a person or a situation. I find this to be true. I consider myself a rather futuristic person. I am constantly thinking about the future and how my actions now may affect me down the road, so I was not surprised when I saw futuristic as a common theme on these assessments.

Another similarity I noticed in my results was feeling and people skills. The Myers-Briggs told me I was more on the feeling side, which means I would prefer an occupation where I would focus on people and process issues rather than the technical problems. It also means I would try to understand the particular needs or contributions of the individuals with those I work with. I think this relates to my results from the Strong Interest Inventory where Social was my top theme. This shows I prefer to work with people and be social with them, as opposed to working alone and focusing on technical details.

I think I learned a lot more from comparing my results from all three assessments. If I had not compared my results I may not have believed them as much, but after I saw physical evidence of these skills in multiple assessments, it made me very confident in the assessments’ accuracy at describing me. I believe everyone should review their results from all three of the assessments we offer, because you can learn a lot more about yourself than you would if you only looked at your results individually.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts

It’s Okay to be Undeclared or Undecided

By: Logan

One of the most common problems for college students is simply figuring out what they want to do with their life after graduation. Many students struggle with this decision; as a matter of fact, 50% – 70% of students change their majors at least once, and most will change majors at least 3 times before they graduate according to the University of La Verne’s Career Services. My blog post today is about why it is okay to be undeclared, and some recommendations on how to find a major you enjoy. Here are some important definitions to keep in mind while reading. Undecided: someone who really has no clear idea about what to major in while in college. Undeclared: someone who hasn’t completed the paperwork to declare a specific major (may or may not have decided on a major).

A lot of people (including myself) thought that you had to have a major declared as soon as you started college. I was unaware of what I wanted to study, and I knew I was interested in exercise, so I just decided on Exercise Science. As soon as I started classes I knew that it was not for me. I felt out of place in the classes, I didn’t enjoy the material, and I was unhappy overall. I was back to where I started. How am I supposed to choose one major from all of what UMD offers? This was a very big issue for me, as it is for many other students in my position.

What students need to realize is that there is nothing wrong with being undeclared or undecided. It means that you are keeping your options available and are open to new experiences. There are many things an undecided student can do to try and figure out what they want to do with their life. The first thing I did in my search was take a wide variety of classes. I took classes from multiple designators and different colleges to learn about a variety of different subjects. This is a great way to spark your interests, or find something you care about. By doing this I found out that psychology classes were very appealing to me, and I was excited to learn more. Some people might think that it is a waste of time and money to take random classes that you might not even need upon graduation, but if you take classes to fulfill Liberal Arts credits then the classes are not for nothing.

Another great option for students who are undecided on a major is to use the multiple services offered by UMD’s Career and Internship Services. Our office is the go-to place for any questions related to careers, majors, resumes, and any other school-related concerns you might have. One of the best ways to find out what you would be interested in is by taking one of three career assessments offered through Career and Internship Services: StrengthsQuest, Strong Interest Inventory, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. While these assessments have differences, each of them could help you in a different way. StrengthsQuest can help you realize your own natural strengths, the Strong Interest Inventory focuses on topics you are interested in, and the MBTI can tell you about your personality. You can read real students’ reactions and opinions on the StrengthsQuest assessment. All of these assessments are very useful when trying to find out what you want to do. Each assessment costs $15 and can be taken right in Solon Campus Center 22.

Another great resource Career and Internship Services offers is the opportunity to meet with a career counselor 1:1 and talk about your situation. All of the counselors are very friendly and eager to help you with your questions. They can help you interpret your results from the assessments, or simply talk about what interests you and what would be beneficial to you. They can also answer any questions you have related to careers or jobs.

If you are currently undecided on a major, it’s okay! Just know that there are multiple free services offered by the University that are unbelievable helpful. Take it from a former undecided student, I would not have been able to make my decision on choosing a major if it wasn’t for Career and Internship Services and the helpful advice from the counselors. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and know that the staff are here to help you.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts

Achiever: Getting Things Done

By: Taylor [Achiever|Input|Intelligence|Learner|Strategy]

I have now taken this assessment twice and 4/5 of my top strengths have stayed the same. In each instance, my number one has been the ‘achiever’ strength. Here is how the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment describes this strength:

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more.

List of Strengths; Achiever in green

For me, the achiever strength does indeed describe my work ethic. Each and every day I create a list of things to do, and often cannot rest until each task is accomplished. I also find the most enjoyment when I am busy and have a full schedule. This is evident by the fact that I have three part-time jobs, am involved in student government, and have a double major while graduating in less than four years. I don’t do it to get ahead of others or for resume builders. It’s because I am happiest when I’m accomplishing something.

Being an achiever does have its downfalls as well. On the weekends I find that I make myself busy even when I don’t really have anything to do! I will clean my apartment or read ahead for my courses. I have counteracted my strength by always making sure to schedule in ‘me’ time and also put silly things on my to-do list. Painting my nails and watching a movie can be added just so that I can still gain the satisfaction of checking it off the list. When you identify your strengths, you can truly use them to your advantage!

If you are an achiever, here are a few action items to follow from the Career Planning chapter in the CliftonStrengths for Students book:

  • Take time to establish clear and relevant goals to guide your efforts.
  • Find roles that challenge you and reward your hard work.
  • Find a place where your productivity, stamina, intensity, and drive for completion will make you a valued team member.
  • Make a list of the steps to take in choosing a career. Having that list and being able to cross items off it as you follow through on each item will give you a sense of direction as well as a deep sense of accomplishment.

If you are interested in finding your top strengths, it only costs $15 (for current UMD students and alumni) to take the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment in our office! You can come in to get the code and take it at your own convenience in the comfort of your own home!

Read about the other 33 Strengths

Read other posts by Taylor

Self-Assurance: Don’t Worry, I’ve Got My Back

By: Andrew [Achiever|Command|Focus|Strategic|Self-Assurance]

We have all had a person in our lives that we look to for advice and inspiration, but we are college students now. Does that mean our mentors have become obsolete? No. However, we can all take a look at ourselves and know that we are capable of being independent, self-reliable, and self-assured.

Self-Assurance is all about being confident in yourself and being confident about the daily decisions that you make. Further, decision-making does not intimidate someone who has this strength, even if the decision you come to is part of the minority. (Source)

List of strengths, Self-assurance in green

Surprisingly to myself, Self-Assurance is not even my top strength, it is my fifth. I have never been one that has been told to go do something and I have always been a self-motivated, independent person for a long time. My first “real” job was working at Taco Bell when I was 16. I had been 16 for a month and asked my parents if they could take me over to Taco Bell to apply for a job. By the end of May, I was working one day a week and one day every weekend. I felt that working was what I was supposed to do, no one told me to get a job, but I did not see the fun in sitting at home watching the summer pass by with minimal structure to it.

I really enjoyed this job, which reaffirms my Self-Assurance strength. My friends never made fun of me for the job I had, but they liked to poke fun at the fact that I was working fast food in a city where there were certainly more lucrative jobs to be found. Why work a higher paying job though? I lived with my parents, so no rent to be paid, no utilities, groceries were paid for, and so on and so forth. Clearly, money was never a factor in choosing this job, but working with great people and serving hundreds of people every day was a ton of fun. This entire point kind of comes back to the whole “do what you love and never work a day in your life” sayings. Never let others tell you what you like or why you should do something. You know you best, so choose for yourself.

Maybe you like to change what other people think, which is completely fine. Self-Assurance says that you can use your already solid beliefs to persuade and influence others, but do so with facts. We can all make stuff up off the top of our head, but persuasion is a strategic and calculated effort to tell others why you think you are right. If you are good at this, may I recommend being a salesperson to you?

Lastly, I will say that Self-Assurance is great for being a leader, but if you are reading this and are already self-assured, I probably did not just blow your mind with this statement. Self-Assurance is great for leaders because leaders have to make executive and final decisions, for better or for worse. Being self-assured allows one to get excited about their decision, but to also be able and ready to take any of the backlash of a bad decision.

If this did not sound like you, rest assured. There are 34 great strengths/talents in CliftonStrengths for Students, so come on down to our office at Career & Internship Services, SCC 22 (in the Wedge). We will get you all set-up to learn what your top five strengths are for only $15 (for current students & alumni), and you will get to meet with one of our counselors to go over your unique results.

Read about other 33 Strengths.

Check out Andrew’s other posts.