Get on the Right Career Track

By Vicki L. Pickell

career track, hydrocephalusWhen choosing a career, college major, or educational program, it’s important to take the time to explore your options. As someone with hydrocephalus, I can attest to how important it is not to allow a condition to define who you are. Let your talents and interests guide you to a career that suits you best. I can attest to the challenges as well as the successes and would like to share my experience in hopes that it will inspire you!

In school, I always enjoyed writing. In fourth grade, I started talking about working as a journalist. The following year, because of a shunt failure, I became legally blind and developed epilepsy. Over the next few years, I endured many shunt complications and numerous brain surgeries.  From that point on, my parents told me that I couldn’t work as a journalist since I would be unable to drive.

Throughout junior high and high school, I embraced every writing assignment and received good grades. When it was time for college, my parents again told me that I couldn’t work as a journalist. Therefore, I got my Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Rhode Island College.  Arrangements were then made for me to work for the State of Rhode Island because government employment would provide good benefits and job security. However, this career path offered no opportunities to write and be creative, which is what I enjoyed most.

My first job with the Rhode Island Department of Human Services was very visual, requiring a lot of data processing. Although I had magnification software and adaptive equipment, it was difficult. In 1997, after earning my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling, I was hired by Rhode Island Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Ironically, my job as a Rehabilitation Counselor required the driving that work as a journalist would. The State had drivers to transport employees with disabilities to client visits. However, a driver often was not available when I had an appointment. I was very frustrated because my life was being defined by my medical conditions.

After the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, many people working in the Travel & Tourism Industry lost their jobs. The U.S. Dept. of Labor established the Airlines Grant to re-train people for a new career. I was hired by Employment and Training Resources, a One-Stop Career Center in Norwood, MA, to work with grant recipients.

The Airlines Grant was a contract position. I was then hired by the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development and continued working at the same Career Center. Unfortunately, because of my medical history, my parents made that decision for me. They insisted that I work in State government because I would have medical benefits and job security. Despite their good intentions, I wound up in several stressful situations that had long-term physical and psychological effects. Parents should work with their child to help discover his or her strengths.

Somewhere along my journey, I discovered that I really enjoy helping people find a career that’s the right fit for them. As an experienced Career Counselor and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Master Practitioner, I have assisted many people with this process. Identifying your unique personality type is a great first step to finding a career that’s right for you!

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment used worldwide by corporations, educators, and career counselors. In their book “Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type” (1995), authors Isabel Briggs-Myers and Peter Myers state: “The best adjusted people are the psychologically patriotic who are glad to be what they are.” It’s important not to allow your health conditions and challenges to define you. I read an interesting article: “Your Brain and Type: Individual Differences Matter” written by Dario Nardi, Ph.D., the head of Radiance House, a media publisher of human resource materials. Dr. Nardi’s article focuses on the neuroscience of personality type. He states: “The neuroscience evidence suggests that type is meaningful and points to genuine variations in how we use our brains.” and that “The best adjusted people are the psychologically patriotic who are glad to be what they are.”

As a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Master Practitioner and someone with hydrocephalus, I believe that identifying your personality type is a great first step in choosing a career.  Sometimes, people of different types have difficulty communicating and understanding one another. Determining a student’s and their parents’ types can be very beneficial.  Work together to plan for a fulfilling career and future. My own experience was the inspiration behind Career Crossing. I enjoy helping people “get their career on the right track”. Don’t let fear or challenges from your hydrocephalus de-rail your success!