Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (4 page)

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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Write your answer to each question on a slip of paper or sticky note.
• When you’ve got free time, what do you like to do?
• What’s your favorite subject in school?
• When you’re in the magazine section of your school library or a bookstore, what type of magazine (computer, fashion, sports, and so forth) will you pick up and read first?
• Fill in the blank: When I’m _____________, I lose track of time and don’t want anyone or anything to disturb me.
• If someone asked you what your favorite interests are, what would you say?
• What are your favorite hobbies, sports, or recreational activities?
• What Internet sites do you have bookmarked? What is the subject matter of those sites?
• What kinds of problems do you like to solve?
• What kinds of questions do your friends or classmates bring to you for help?
After you’ve answered all the questions, put your answers in a list. Use sticky notes (or experiment with a prioritizing grid at
) to make a new list in order of priority (your favorite interest first, second favorite next, and so on). Then write your top three interests in the My Favorite Interests section of
My Parachute
. If your interests change, be sure to update your parachute.
Good work! You’re off to a great start.

Skills You Enjoy Using

Your interests are closely tied to your skills, especially the skills that you most enjoy using. We call these your “best” skills because they are your best bet to finding a job that you love. How? It’s simple: when you know what your skills are, especially your best skills, you can look for jobs that use those particular skills. It just makes sense that the jobs you are most likely to enjoy will use your favorite skills. Once hired, you’re more likely to keep your job if it involves your interests and skills you do well. Why? To succeed in most fields, you have to work long hours. It’s hard to succeed if you don’t like what you do. You’ll want to spend less time at work, not more.

“But I don’t have any skills,” you say.

Chances are you have more skills than you realize. Often our best skills are so close to us that we’re not even aware of them. They come so easily and naturally that we think anybody can do them the way we do. It’s true that you
probably don’t have as many skills as your older brother or sister has, and they probably don’t have as many skills as your parents or favorite teachers have. Skills grow as we grow.

As we gain more life experience, pursue further education, or work at a particular job for an extended period of time, we also gain more skills. But by the time you’re a teenager, you’ve already developed many skills.

Transferable Skills

At its most basic, a skill is a developed aptitude or ability. A skill can range from a basic life skill like being able to turn on a water faucet (which we can’t do till we’re tall enough to reach the faucet and strong enough to turn the handle) to a more advanced skill like being able to drive a car. (Skills are sometimes called “talents” or “gifts.” In this book, we’ll use the word “skills.”)

It takes a long time to get good at something. You might as well spend that time involved with something that really interests you. Many successful ventures—such as RoadtripNation, Facebook, and Playing for Change—were started by young entrepreneurs following their interests.

There are many different types of skills, and the most basic are transferable skills. Along with your interests, transferable skills are the foundation for knowing what you love to do. Sometimes they’re also called “functional” skills because these are skills you do, such as gathering information or data, or working with people or things. Let’s say you like to skateboard. (Skateboarding could be one of the interests you named earlier.) When you skateboard, you work with some “thing” (a skateboard), and skateboarding is what you do with the skateboard. What are your transferable skills? You have hand-eye-foot coordination, physical agility, and exceptional balance, as well as the ability to make split-second decisions and take risks. Nothing limits these skills to skateboarding. They’d be valuable in (that is, transferable to) work as a surfing instructor, lumberjack, search-and-rescue crew member, or any number of other jobs.

Transferable skills can be divided into three different types: physical, mental, and interpersonal. Physical skills primarily use the hands and/or body and generally
involve working with things (such as materials, equipment, or objects, like your skateboard). Working with things includes working with nature (plants and animals).
Mental skills primarily use the mind and generally involve working with data, information, numbers, or ideas. Interpersonal skills primarily involve working with people as you serve or help them with their needs or problems. (We call these different types of skills “Skill TIPs”—that is, skills that you use when working with Things, Information/Ideas, or People.) So if one of your skills is skateboarding, your transferable skills include
physical skills (hand-eye-foot coordination, agility, balance, and skateboard maneuvering) and mental skills (split-second decision making). Skateboarding can also involve using interpersonal skills, especially if you are on a team, enjoy teaching others how to skateboard, or do specialized tricks and maneuvers.

Why Are My Transferable Skills Important?

Your transferable skills are particularly important as you look for your dream job because they can be transferred from one place to another, to any field or career you choose, regardless of where you first picked them up or how long you’ve had them. For example, your ability to swim is a skill that can be transferred to—or used in—work as a lifeguard, a swim coach, or a counselor at a summer camp.

You begin to identify your skills by looking at your life. Think about projects you have completed, recent problems that you solved, your hobbies, and the activities you do for fun. These can be experiences from your school, volunteer work, paid work, or free time. Select a project or activity you’ve enjoyed that had an outcome—writing a paper, helping to organize an activity, or learning something new, such as a sport or hobby.
Rich Feller, an international career consultant and author of the book
Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed,
says that 70 percent of our skills come from challenges, 20 percent from watching others, and 10 percent from classes and reading. You may have stories to write from any of those three categories. But if you are stumped about what might make a good skills story, look particularly at challenges you have overcome. Once you’ve thought of a story, write a short paragraph that describes how you completed your project or worked out a solution to the problem you had.
Now give your project, problem, or activity a title. Then answer these questions:

Goal or Problem:
What was your goal—that is, what were you trying to accomplish, or what was the problem you were trying to solve?

What made achieving your goal (or solving the problem) difficult? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Time Frame:
How long did it take you to achieve your goal or solve your problem?

What happened? Did things go as you expected, or did something unexpected happen?

Transferable skills are the basic building blocks of any job or career. Most jobs rely on just four to seven main skills. (These groups of skills are sometimes called “skill sets.”) That’s why it’s so important to identify yours. If you know your best transferable skills, you can compare the skills needed in a job with those you do well and enjoy using. This kind of comparison will help you find a job you’ll love. The more of your best skills you use in a job, the more likely you will love it.

Need a little inspiration on what kind of story to write? Serena Brewer was a seventeen-year-old high school senior when she wrote the following story.

By Serena Brewer • The Athenian School (Danville, CA)

The high school I attended required seniors to design and complete a community service project. My project stemmed from my love of teaching skiing and a unique opportunity that came from a phone call with my dad.

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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