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Four years ago, she was a senior in high school. She took the Highlands Ability Battery to learn more about herself and potential career options. She enjoyed the fast pace and customer interaction she had at her gourmet market job. She was also enjoying the two business electives she was taking, which fueled her curiosity. We chatted about our mutual admiration for Daniel Pink, especially his books, Drive and To Sell is Human. Additionally, she found her aunt’s work at a public relations agency intriguing.

Gillian’s results revealed that she was a highly extraverted specialist with an ability to generate and communicate lots of ideas about problem-solving (an aptitude often found in teachers, salespeople, and highly creative individuals). Her strongest blend was Brainstorming and Selling in Practical and Pragmatic ways. Clearly, majors and careers that involved marketing, fundraising, sales, and training would be natural fits.

Four years later, as a senior marketing major in college, we met again. Gillian was a bit uncertain. She didn’t want to do marketing for organizations that she had no personal connection to, reflecting her specialist orientation. Becoming an “expert” is very important for specialists. Their identity is often strongly connected to career mastery and satisfaction. Additionally, Gillian’s resume did not accurately reflect all of her experiences, including being the president of her college’s Public Relations Club.

She was currently employed at a boutique hotel and resort which she loved. She shared a story about a couple who had booked a reservation to celebrate their engagement. The problem was that they showed up on the wrong day. Engaging and sympathetic, Gillian spent time helping them. She found out that their custom-made engagement ring would be ready the following day, coinciding with their planned return. She helped them arrange a photo shoot on the beach and reminded them how special it would be to have the ring in the photos. She told me this story in a very animated way. Observing how you talk about “work” stories is something to pay attention to—do you feel energized, engaged, or not?

It became very evident to both Gillian and me that working in the hospitality industry was a great fit for her. She enjoyed many aspects of her work, and selling and promoting experiences came naturally to her. I encouraged her to also consider opportunities that would allow her to move into management roles, given her leadership and teaching abilities.

Her excitement was palpable! She has a clear action plan and a vision for her future.

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