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My Personal Journey from College to Career

SEPTEMBER 9, 2014 by Jacob Flaws

Whether you or someone you know has recently graduated from college, or will be doing so in the
near future, Id like to share my personal journey from college to career, in the hopes that offers
some wisdom gained from lessons learned after a few missteps along the way.

Throughout high school, I received little career guidance. I chose a college and career path based
on my intuition. I attended Buena Vista University (BVU) because it was a great fit for my athletic
interests as well as my lifestyle needs.
During college, I changed my major three times. I think its important to note the reasons why I chose
these majors, and also why I changed my mind and opted to pursue something different.
Major #1: Journalism. Why? I wanted to travel the world. I thought this was one of the few careers
that would allow me to do that. I wish I wouldve had access to the 1,000+ occupation search
inKuder Journey to open my eyes to the many other careers that involve travel!
Major #2: Law. Why? I realized traveling could be expensive and I thought I would make a good
living as an attorney. Paradoxically, it would be safe to say that during this time, my Kuder Work
Values Assessment results would have showed that one of my top work values was not Income.
Instead, I valued Accomplishment andInnovation. In fact, Income was low on my desired work
values. I could have avoided this major change altogether with the Kuder assessment!
Major #3: History. Why? I soon discovered that while becoming an attorney could bring a high
income, it couldnt bring me happiness. Plus, I wanted to get more out of a career than income. My
general education classes made me realize that what I enjoyed learning about most was history; this
was my passion. I graduated from BVU with a bachelors degree in history and later received a
masters degree in the subject from Iowa State University. I do not regret my decision one bit. Not

only is my history knowledge applicable to a lot of areas in my life, but when Im not here at Kuder,
Im able to fulfill my passion for the subject in my position as an adjunct history professor at BVU.


Whether I was preparing for a career in journalism, law, or history, I knew it was important for me to
set goals and explore opportunities that would give me the experience needed to find a related job.
In addition, I knew these experiences would help confirm my career decision or make me realize that
I need to pursue something different. For example, I loved my history courses in college, but until I
job-shadowed my major professor, I didnt realize you could make a career doing history. He really
opened up my eyes to the career path of being a history professor and I learned I could apply my
passion to the real world of work.
My first job after graduation was as a sales associate at a jewelry store. The shift from 11:00 a.m.
classes to 9:00 a.m. workdays was an adjustment. So was transitioning from a short three-hour day
to an eight-hour (or longer) day. I learned right away that I needed to go to bed earlier and drink a lot
of coffee!
Through my work at the jewelry store, I discovered that I was really good at talking to people and
inquiring about their needs and providing them with a solution (or product). I also really liked getting
to know people and talking to them.
My next job as a postsecondary enrollment advisor allowed me to take solution-based sales and
apply it to the field of education. In this role, I gained valuable insights as I helped students work
through some of the most important decisions of their lives.
These two positions allowed me to combine my sales background with the education world in a way
that benefited people in a very tangible way. I never expected that I would enjoy sales, but now its
second nature to me and I can say I have a true passion for it!

A large part of my role at Kuder is helping schools, districts, and private organizations find career
guidance solutions that not only enable students and adults to plan, prepare, and transition to lifes
next stage, but equip them with resources that that will support administrators as they assist their
students or clients.
As I speak with school counselors and administrators, workforce agency personnel, and others who
serve in a career advising capacity, Im always reminded that career planning is a continuous
process. Skill sets improve over time, and with that, interests and work values are likely to shift.

Even if a person were to land their dream job right out of college, its important for them to realize
that if they become complacent, it may prevent them from adapting and growing in their career.
In her book Take Hold of Your Future, Dr. JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbeystates that the most successful
individuals in todays workforce develop and utilize lifelong career management and transition skills
the knowledge and capability to follow a process of career planning and cope with transition when
it occurs. Its really no secret; planning and goal-setting are fluid things, and by keeping them in the
forefront, a person is much more likely to achieve their aspirations both in career and in life.