One Key to Long-Term Career Satisfaction: An Interdisciplinary Career

Northwestern University's 3D wall“What you want for anybody, but especially for gifted students, is a career direction they can sink their teeth into and one that will keep them motivated for the long-term,” says Paula Kosin, Career Vision career consultant and frequent presenter at CTD conferences.

How is that possible, though, when many gifted students have interests all over the map?

“When we work with students that have multiple interests,” says Kosin, “they often have a number of aptitude strengths as well. They may be high in creativity and spatial abilities, high in math and high in problem-solving abilities, too. How do you engage all of these strengths in the context of a job and inspiring career? The challenge then is in finding or creating a role that enables them to use as many of these strengths as much as possible.”

To provide gifted individuals with adequate challenges, Kosin recommends career roles that offer interdisciplinary opportunities, both in subject matter and in using their entire range of aptitude strengths.

“You could start out as a nurse, and then add a Master’s degree in computer science, for instance, and move into the health informatics field, meshing your medical knowledge with computer database management,” explains Kosin. “Another example might be a nurse who attends law school and then, as an attorney, specializes in medical malpractice cases.”

The goal is to establish a foundation in one career, and as the individuals build competency, they are able to add on to that foundation with additional degrees, skills or experiences. This doesn’t always entail additional education; it could just mean seeking out more diverse opportunities within one field.

As an example, Kosin cites individuals who have an aptitude profile and interests that are a good fit for a science career. “They may love science and research,” says Kosin, “but if people with high idea generation abilities are stuck in a solitary lab all day, they will be crawling up the wall. They need to be interacting and talking with people.”

Paula KosinKosin’s solution for these individuals might be to “look for opportunities to teach, train and do workshops so that they’re using their full range of natural strengths. This results in greater job satisfaction, and ultimately, greater satisfaction with their lives.”

For more career development advice from Paula Kosin, consult the winter 2014 issue of Talent.

2 responses

  1. Great post. My sister is extremely bright (skipped a year in high school, comes first in the scholarship tests, etc) and I worry about how she’ll find a career that makes her happy and challenges her. This is the first post I’ve come across that addresses this.

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