By Jack Cronin, International Affairs and Arabic Studies, GWU May 2018
Hey everyone! I’m Jack and I’m a sophomore here at GW and a Career Ambassador at the Center for Career Services (CCS). As a sophomore, it’s time for me to get my life together and declare my major, and let’s be honest, that’s not always easy. I came into GW as a lot of our freshmen do – thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do and thinking that I knew exactly how I was going to get there. Unsurprisingly, I’m on a fairly different track now and I couldn’t be happier.
My freshman year, I entered the Elliott School and was planning to major in International Affairs with a concentration in Security Policy. I had goals to work for Homeland Security or the CIA, as does almost any other Security Policy student here. I met with my career coach, Nicole Kolt, within my first month of being here because I was ready to take on the world. However, in my meetings when Nicole would ask me what I want to do with my life or to picture where I want to work, I would say the CIA or Homeland Security, but it never felt genuine. I have no idea if Nicole noticed this, but she recommended that I take the Strong Interest Inventory, which gauges people’s different interests and pinpoints different majors, careers, and work environments that a person would be most content in. After taking this I discovered that I loved working with people, which was something I already knew; however, it taught me more about how I want to work with people, which ultimately led me to change my concentration. The Strong assessment taught me that naturally I was drawn to roles of teaching and empowering. It gave me an in-depth report that Nicole was able to walk me through, that identified different careers that I would be most interested in, and I quickly realized that they were fairly different from the classic Security Policy track.
After taking this assessment, I asked Nicole if I could take the other assessment offered by the Center for Career Services: StrengthsQuest. This assessment identifies a person’s top five natural skills, and then gives a report that explains each of the skills and how one can best capitalize on them. StrengthsQuest identified a couple of my strengths which specifically contributed to me switching concentrations, as well on taking on a second major.
I thought a lot about what drew me to originally choose Security Policy as my concentration, and I believe it was the idea of helping people by being in a role that protected people, most likely in some type of leadership role. After taking the two assessments though, I realized that I want to really help people by connecting, engaging, and forming relationships. I also discovered that I want to help people, not by just keeping them safe and alive, but by improving their lives- by providing them with education and empowerment. Because of all of this I changed my concentration to International Development. I now know that I want to dedicate my life to improving the lives of others through sustainable development. These assessments showed me what I am genuinely interested in but also what I am naturally good at, and gave me an amazing peace of mind.
In my position at the CCS, I really encourage that people take these assessments because they can help narrow one’s job search, help someone pick a major, or even reaffirm one’s interest in something. Sometimes all a person needs is just to be reminded of something their good at and that’s what these assessments can do! I found these to be extremely helpful during my time here at GW, and I think it would benefit everyone to take them.