Stupid career quizzes and the existential angst exposed thereby

I just took a stupid career quiz on MSN: Do you love your job? In the tradition of all stupid quizzes, it doesn’t really tell you anything you don’t already know, or couldn’t figure out on your own with a little consideration.

I was a mixture of D’s and C’s, with a B or two thrown in (the “Answer Key” is at the bottom). Basically, if Goldilocks is an A, she likes her job too much; a B, she doesn’t like it at all; a C, she likes it just right. D… well, D is what I’m most interested in, because it’s where I identify most closely. Here’s a little of what it says:

D: It’s the first letter in “dilettante,” which is what you tend to be when it comes to your professional life. You are most likely ambitious and multitalented, but have trouble settling down because it means foregoing other choices. This isn’t necessarily a bad quality — many people change careers several times throughout their lives — but you should try to make sure these switches in direction are based on careful thought and consideration rather than impulse.

This is so me. I was a scientist who got burned out on grad school, so I quit and completely reinvented my resume and started a career as a technical writer. (File this under: Benefits of a liberal arts education.) Now I feel like I’ve pretty much mastered all the things I do in my job, and I’m ready for something new, so I’ve applied to go to library school.

I start to have a problem with what the rest of the description says, however:

Perhaps you’re reluctant to commit to one job or career because you haven’t prioritized your goals. Since it’s impossible to do everything, try narrowing your options by assessing your talents and preferences. Ask basic questions � do I like to work with people or am I happier with solitary pursuits? Do I have a knack for mathematics, science, languages, music, art or sales? Could my interest in a particular field lead to a career or merely a hobby? Can I make money at this? Do I want to do this work 40 or more hours a week? Finding the answers to these questions is the first step toward committing to a career choice.

Well thank you, MSN content-creation monkey, for so neatly mapping things out for me. Now my life is complete.

Seriously, who says I have to “commit to a career choice”? I just don’t really think there’s any single career that’s for me. I know it’s normal for people to change careers once or twice (and change jobs many times), but my life is shaping into changing my career every couple of years or so. And that’s OK with me. (For K folks, see the article in the last Lux Esto about alumni changing careers. I swear that K’s quarters ruined me for anything lasting longer than 10 weeks, and apparently I’m not alone in this feeling.) I think an MLS is also a super idea at this point, because (1) I’d love to go back to school about now, and (2) it’s the handyman equivalent of the academic world, a sort of jack-of-all-trades with information, which I feel will serve me well in lots of careers down the road, whatever they may be.

Yeah, I like this career-changing-every-so-often track. I imagine by the time I “retire” I will have been a climate scientist, a technical writer, a librarian, a car mechanic, an artist, and a fry-cook on Venus, and eight other things. All of which sound like a lot of fun, at least for a couple of years. “[I]t’s impossible to do everything”? My ass.

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