Whooo, I posted my review of The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry, PhD. It uses the Holland Codes as a guide to help you find a creative career that works for you–but it has plenty to work with beyond that as well.
I’m lukewarm on “personality test”-type things, but the Holland Code tests are pretty decent. After all, they aren’t trying to pigeonhole your personality; they’re just trying to match up the kinds of jobs you find interesting with what’s available, so that you can get a better handle on the things that match your interests, background, and abilities. When I took the tests I was a bit surprised to find that, hands-down, my top Holland designation was actually Investigative–well above Artistic or anything else. (I wasn’t so surprised to find out that I got a flat 0 for Conventional.)
This actually tells me a lot about why I’ve had so much trouble settling into finding the right career for myself, as well as why review-writing has stuck with me. Investigative careers tend to require a few things. For one, they often require training and education that many other careers don’t. For another, they tend to require a fairly detail-oriented mindset and thought pattern. Since I just got through watching the CSI finale, I’ll use the job of a CSI as an example. That’s a pretty archetypal investigative job right there. You need to be able to keep careful track of details, and you need to be very precise about your methods, record-keeping, and so on.
Unfortunately, I have ADD, bipolar, and PTSD, all of which tend to fracture my thought processes. I have the IQ, but not the ability to concentrate. If I can follow a line of research or reasoning without my thought train derailing within seconds, it’s something of a minor miracle. Medications help, but they can’t fix everything.
This was most clearly driven home to me when I was taking psychology courses at Harvard. In particular, I took a biopsychology course on states of consciousness from the absolutely awesome J. Allan Hobson. I’d always loved psychology and biopsych, but that course inspired me. It was the first time I’d ever thought about going on for a further degree and possibly doing research. I understood the material, and the concepts made sense to me. However, we did a short independent research project during the course of the class, and what I found was that while I had the creativity, information, interest and so on to do it, if I tried to follow the investigative logic far enough to really draw out meaning and depth from my results, it felt like my thoughts just fractured into tiny shards. There I was, wanting so much to do this, and finding that because of how my mind works, I couldn’t pull it together.
No wonder career issues have so befuddled me–apparently the type of job that most suits my interests least suits my handicaps.
This, of course, is the sort of thing the book can’t really address; such handicaps are very individualized and would require individual career counseling. But at least it’s given me something to think about, and there are definitely other things in the book that I can work with.
As for book reviewing–well, yeah, now I can definitely understand why it’s worked out well for me. It’s an investigative, creative occupation that doesn’t require quite so much following of long trails of investigation, at least for me. Most of it is collating small pieces of information, or larger conclusions that because of the way I read I tend to absorb at an almost subconscious level.