Planning for your futureSchool and College

Power of vocations: Finding your talents

It can be hard to really identify your talents, especially when you are younger. 

You may be great at numbers and have an ability to conduct math efficiently. However, that does not necessarily mean you’ll become a math teacher, a coder or programmer.  You may be great at art and drawing, but that does not mean you’ll want to pursue a career in art or graphic design.  Your talents can be difficult to find and it takes time to focus on.  See if your school offers vocational testing. But, be aware these are at best a guide and should not be taken literally.

Determine who you are

One test you can take is a personality test called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. 

This test helps you identify your personality type. It shines a light on your behavioural preferences, and in turn it helps you think about what types of vocations might suit you.

A trick I’ve used that’s worked for me, is to identify 10 close friends who know you well. Last but not least, identify 10 family members who know you well, and 10 mentors you interact with professionally. These can be teachers, coach or instructors you engage with professionally.

Once you have identified them all, ask them if they would answer the following two questions.

  • When you have spent time with me, what would you say my talents are? 

A talent can be something physical like a skill. Something practical, such as tasks, or something softer, such as empathy and working with people. Ask them to think about your talents for a week or so and then share their thoughts with you.

  • What they think motivates you? 

What makes you excited and what gets you out of bed. When have they seen you become excited about something? What was that thing?

Once they have done this, gather all your answers. Refine them to a final list of your talents and motivators.  Then sit with it and discuss it with your closest friends and parents. Start analysing it and questioning it. If you see a common theme, ask yourself why three times and try to uncover the reason.

“Why do I get excited about being outside? Because I enjoy nature. Why do you enjoy nature? Because I care about the planet. Why do you care about the planet? Because of its relationship with life.”

Keep going if you have to until you get to the primary reason that is driving you.

Once you have spent time with it, you will slowly start to see your talents emerge. 

This will help you focus at school on where to study harder. As well as what other subjects you need to take to support your talents.  It will also start to help you better understand what you don’t want to do.

Five tips for finding your talents and motivators

  • Try before you buy; take time while you are still at school to visit local businesses and companies.

Ask your parents to take you on a visit to businesses and organisations in your area. Start the process of exploration and elimination. Quantity is good here. You want to visit as many places as you can so you can quickly start to eliminate types of vocations that you are not motivated by and or have no talents for.  Keep a diary or journal of your visits. Ask yourself what you thought about the type of vocation? How it made you feel.

  • Virtual Tour – spend time on YouTube watching videos of different jobs, careers and vocations.  

In no time, you’ll see the difference and get a sense of what you like and don’t like.

  • Mind the Gap: Be mindful that talents can be taught. 

Follow your motivations and feeling first and if your talents support a vocation great.  If your talents do not support a vocation you are motivated by, then start to train and study for it.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have no talent for a subject.  Anyone can learn talents if you are motivated enough.

  • Think about the future. How technology and industry are shaping vocations today and what that might look like tomorrow.

For example, you may have all the talents in the world to want to become a taxi driver or chauffeur, but as driverless cars emerge, that vocation will die.  Make sure your vocation of choice is future proof.

  • Take your time: Make sure you dedicate time to finding your talents.

Life has a tendency to force us and pressure us into decisions and before we know it, we have made a choice and are doing something we don’t really want to do. 

Education is important, as is finding the right job, but don’t rush into it.  For example, I took three years off after school to travel and work.  I took any job I could find to save money and go travelling.  I did some really terrible jobs and learned a lot about what I did not want to do.  It was not until I was in Switzerland climbing that I discovered my vocation. 

How I found my motivation?

I bought a Swiss Army Knife and was impressed by the fact that it served multiple purposes and was thoughtfully designed.

I had no idea who made these nor any idea that people made a whole vocation out of design and solving unmet needs.  It was at that moment I decided to return to England and attend a design degree in Nottingham. 3 year on from my classmates at school.  I cannot tell you how much more focused I was and how much hungrier I was for the course and to learn and soak it all up.  Many of the younger students were not the same.  So, don’t be in a rush to follow your classmates.

In the final post of this series, I help you to discover the needs of the world to help you identify opportunities where you can leverage your talents to solve the need.

This article is a part of series written by Gary Etheridge, Director of Design Strategy for Nestlé Purina North America who studied Furniture & Product Design at Nottingham Trent University. Subject of these series focuses on further education. Mainly advice on what to consider before choosing your further study, using our power of vocation strategy.

Gary is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here.

Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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