Vocation and Purpose

Becoming who you are. Cultivating what you do.

Zig Zag Paths

Winding Road

Many career paths are not linear or flawless. They are complex and unpredictable. Envision your career as a winding road with many bumps along the way where reflection and discernment are critical.

Below you will find different career path scenarios based on real situations and real people. Their interests are listed first in order to show multiple identities, skills, limitations, or values that are useful to explore when trying to find a career that will suit you at various times in your life.

At Cal Lutheran, if you discover a passion that utilizes your natural abilities and strengths and you are helping the world while doing this (even if it is in some small way) we call that vocation.


Johnny's Journey

Interests: Sports, Travel, Environmental Issues, and Video Games

Early College
  • Johnny enters college as Environmental Science Major.
  • At first things are going well, but then he receives a D on an exam and his confidence plummets. He is not sure if he should change his major or continue on this path.
  • Bump in the Road
STOP & REFLECT

Don't let one hard class be the only determining factor in your choice. First try to use the tutoring services on campus and speak with faculty and career services before switching majors. Write out a pros and cons list too. What choices have you made where you realized only later that you should have done more research and talked to more people before deciding? With whom do you consult and how do you do research before making a decision?

  • He interacts with his Faculty Advisor and he meets a counselor at career services on campus.
  • Johnny changes to a Business Administration Major with an Environmental Science Minor after reviewing the careers and classes associated with this path.
  • Johnny joins a club on campus to meet more people and to improve his leadership skills.
Words of Wisdom

Campus involvement looks great on a resume! Being active and involved on campus helps you build social support and meet new people. Activities such as sports have many benefits that include improving your motivation, drive, learning to work with teams, exercise (which keeps the mind sharp), and building leadership skills,

  • Johnny visits his campus career services office and takes career assessments to uncover more about his values, personality, skills, and interests. He goes over his results with a career counselor.
Later College
  • Johnny secures an Internship at a solar company (related to his internest in the environment) and learns how to handle various business operations and interact daily with customers. He also coaches kids on a sports team after school and enjoys mentoring others (which relates to his interest in sports).
Words of Wisdom

Students who do one internship (paid or unpaid) while in college will tend to receive job offers more quickly  than those who do not do internships (Nace Feb2018 pg 40.) Employers often expect to see at internships on your resume. Internships will help you become competitive for a full-time position later on.

  • Bump in the Road
STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up):

Johnny finds himself working in the sales field but realizes that he actually enjoys the marketing aspects of his position. How many times have you ignored your own intuition to find out only later that your gut feeling was correct? Do you tend to trust or mistrust your intuition or gut feelings?

  • Johnny starts looking for a marketing internship and plans to leave his current internship at the solar company.
Words of Wisdom

When starting a job search, do NOT leave your current job before having something else lined up.  Employers prefer to see “- Present” on the resume which shows you are currently working.

  • Johnny decides to launch a job search 3 months before he graduates. He is offered a Marketing Assistant job and negotiates for the employer to pay 75% on his MBA in Marketing. He gives his 2 weeks notice at the solar company and offers to train his replacement, which his current supervisor appreciates.
Post College
  • Johnny graduates College. He stays with this employer for 3 years while pursuing the MBA and receives a promotion to Senior Marketing Analyst in his final year (first job out of college).
  • Bump in the Road
STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up):
Johnny realizes that he wants to travel and explore more of the world through his work. He has also determined that he wants to switch to another company that can offer him a higher salary. Have you ever had a thought that just keeps popping into your head? What do you do when that happens?

 

  •  Johnny decides to launch a job search (second job out of college): Offered a job as a Marketing Manager at a Travel-Related Fortune 500 company. He stays there for 5 years (relates to his interest in travel).
Words of Wisdom

Every time he thinks about making a move, Johnny talks to the career services department about his resume, cover letter, job search, and salary. He also attends workshops that CLU Career Services offers free for life! But don't under-value chance encounters, like what can occur in an event like a workshop, which can change the course of your professional and personal lives. Be open to what these encounters might bring.

30s/40s
  • Johnny decides to launch a job search (third job out of college): after 5 years at the Travel-Related company, he moves into a Marketing Director role at a small Sports Apparel company and stays 7 years which relates to his sports interest). Johnny considers this position his dream job because it is close to home, it has a high salary and has an excellent benefit package.
Words of Wisdom

There are benefits to working both for large companies and small companies: See the pros and cons here

  • Johnny launches a job search (fourth job out of college): He secures a position as an Executive Director of Marketing, at another small Sports Apparel company. Johnny stays in this position for 5 years.
  • Bump in the Road
STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up):

Johnny realizes that he values working with children and he wants to move to opportunities where he can mentor or improve the lives of children in his role. Have you ever noticed that your values can change over time as you mature but some are more stable than others?

50s/60s
  • Johnny decides to launch a job search (fifth job out of college). He starts to receive various offers for different director positions. 
  • Bump in the Road
STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up):

Johnny's partner has received an offer out of the state. At first, this seems like a major issue but then he realizes that a move out of state could have advantages based on cost of living and a different lifestyle and culture. How many times have you become highly stressed by a situation only to find out later that it was a blessing in disguise? What kinds of benefits have you seen arise from stressful situations?

  • Johnny moves to Executive Director of International NGO and spends 10 years there. He works with young kids in other countries and teaches them how to play video games and sports in his spare time (this relates to his interests in travel, sports, and video games).
Retirement
 

Final Destination

  • Johnny decides to launch is final job search for his “retirement job” and secures a position as a Recreation Manager at the local park district. This position incorporates his passion of sports, past work with children, knowledge of business, and his sales and marketing background, which all help him to excel in this role.
Words of Wisdom

Do not let challenges you encounter take you down! Try to decrease stress as you encounter the inevitable ups and downs throughout your journey. Have grit and persevere beyond the bumps in the road because effort is critical. Whether you are moving to a new place, have an injury or health problem, encounter family issues, divorce, or a death of a person close to you, these can all cause stress. These stressful events will most likely lead you to make changes in your life and career. Even positive milestones such as a marriage or having children can often increase the need for some flexibility and might even lead you to change career directions and/or priorities. Just know, this is all a NORMAL part of the process. 


Erica’s Exploration

Interests: Science, Writing, Social Justice, Religion

Early College
  • Erica enters college and selects a Pre-Medicine major, with a Sociology minor.
  • She secures a campus job as a summer writing camp instructor.
Words of Wisdom

She  part-time work study campus job is a great way to gain experience while decreasing your costs for college. Try to apply for work study jobs that relate to your interests or career goals. This enables you to learn about the workplace. In your last three semesters in college, it is critical to do an internship off campus to help you break into your chosen field. Make a good impression on your supervisor and maintain a positive relationship with them because a future employer will call them for a reference.

  • Bump in the Road
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up)

Erica feels that she has not gained a solid foundation of worldviews and cultural belief systems. She has not had the opportunity to leave the county/state. Have you ever felt that something was pulling you into a direction to do more? Think bigger? Take a risk?

  • She decides to study abroad in Spain
Words of Wisdom

Studying abroad provides a new perspective on life and widens your worldview, which can help you to embrace life's complexities and become more culturally curious. This can help you adjust better to the diverse workplaces you will be working in.

Later College
  • Erica conducts Informational Interviews to explore careers more in depth and she talks with a  member who teaches courses related to social justice issues. The faculty members she interviews recommend to interview a non-profit that helps the community with social justice issues.
Words of Wisdom

Informational Interviews are a great way to learn about a field and meet people you want to eventually work for or with. It is also a great way to learn about internship opportunities and future careers within their organization. 

  • She takes part in an Internship with children at a non-profit and becomes a Youth Leader at her church.
  • Bump in the Road
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up)

Erica discovers she has a chronic health issue and has to take a semester off, she drops her current classes, and leaves both internships. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt at odds against a life circumstance? How do you respond when you experience difficult life circumstances? Staying optimistic is difficult but your attitude can impact outcomes.

Words of Wisdom

Having set-backs is a part of life. Look at them as a time to take stock of life, priorities, and plan to come up with various options to deal with this “bump in the road.”

  • Erica returns to college to resume her studies and she graduates with her Bachelor's degree.
Post College
  • Erica decides to launch a job search and secures a position as a non-profit Program Coordinator (first job out of college) helping children with disabilities. She stays in this role for 2 years.
  • She then decides to launch a job search and secures work for a non-profit as a Fundraising Manager that helps fight domestic violence. Erica stays in this role for 4 years (second job out of college).
  • Bump in the Road
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up)

Erica’s decides to move out of state to a less humid environment to help improve her allergies symptoms. Has a big sacrifice in your life ever turned out to have additional advantages, that were not apparent when you first made the decision? It is normal to prioritize life circumstances when making career decisions. What are the life circumstances you might use to weigh career choices?

  • She then decides to go back to school and pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration, hoping she can use it to help the world in some way.
Words of Wisdom

Going back to school can help if you have been out of work, laid off, or have an inconsistent job history. It gives you a fresh start and offers new marketable skills. Her next role can be seen more as her "vocation" now, as it is makng a difference in the world using her unique skills, knowledge, and passion for her field.

  • Erica lands a Policy Internship related to STEM Education helping under-represented high school students. Through this internship she learns to write grants. This position converts to a full-time job as a Senior Program Manager (third job out of college/first job with a graduate degree) which she stays in for 9 years.
Words of Wisdom

More than half of all internships convert to jobs. Internships are not only good for the employer, but it helps you to know if you fit in to the office culture, get along with staff, and feel the work is rewarding to you.

30’s/40’s
  • She decides to launch a job search and becomes a Policy Analyst at a highly reputable think tank (second job with a graduate degree). She stays in this position for 6 years.
  • Bump in the Road
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up)

Erica has a child and she needs a more flexible schedule. How many times have you noticed that your needs and wants became clearer after a major milestone in your life? Consider your circumstances: how might you choose a career or align your schedule to allow your participation in what matters to you now?

  • Erica decides to find a job with less travel and a more flexible schedule.
  • Erica lands a job as a Donor Relations Manager/Senior Grant Writer with a small non-profit (third job with a graduate degree) which helps create mentor-type relationships between students and industry executives. She stays in this role for 8 years.
50’s
  • Erica decides to launch a job search because she is still commuting over 40 minutes a day. The expenses of traveling to work, along with the salary she is receiving, has created a financial burden for her. She wants to find a position with a better paying wage.
  • She then lands a job as an Executive Director at a non-profit. Through her work, Erica educates people on the health issue that she was diagnosed with 30 years ago. She stays in this position for 3 years.
  • Bump in the Road
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT (Pop-Up)

Erica’s mom is sick and Erica and her partner decide to move to her city to assist with the care for her mother. Erica and her partner move. Having to “drop” what you are doing can be very difficult and stressful but taking the time to care for someone else can lead to positive opportunities for yourself that you didn’t recognize at first. What stress factors have you experienced this past year that influenced your career choices?

  • Erica launches her final job search for a new position located in her new city.
Retirement
 
Final Destination

Erica ends up working at a University in Grant Writing and the position is 10 months a year. In this role she also has the oppurtunity to act as Club Advisor for Social Justice Club. For the summer months when she is off work, she serves as the Director of a Faith-Based Summer Camp Empowerment Program. This role brings many of her interests and skills together. This final job utilizes Erica's strengths in writing and her passions for social justice issues and serving God.

Words of Wisdom

Life comes with many peaks and valleys but it is how you react to these unexpected circumstances that makes all the difference. Most career paths are complicated and even as you plan, luck or chance can also impact your decisions as well. Career goals change as you mature and encounter life experiences. These changes will occur while taking into account your gifts and strengths as well as your challenges and limitations. Try your best to apprecaite the journey of life as you navigate through the highs and lows.

Challenges can often be the only time in your life when you stop, think, reflect, and reassess your plans. It is in these challenges, that we discover who we are, what we value and where we see ourselves in the future.


Roberto’s Road

Interests: Business, Food, Photography/Videography, and Fitness

Freshmen
  • Roberto enters in college as a Business Administration major with an emphasis in Marketing.
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

Roberto gets into a bad car accident and has to take a semester off of school. He drops his classes and temporarily stops his education. Have you ever encountered a troubling life situation only to find that you were able to preserve through?

 
  • Roberto starts his physical therapy and after some time off, he returns to college.
Words of Wisdom

It is important to seek out and consult resources on campus such as faculty advisors, career counselors, and staff who can help you when you need it.

Sophomore
  • Roberto goes to the Career Services office and speaks with a Career Counselor. After going over options and interests, and updating his resume and cover letter, he decides to start a search for an internship.
Words of Wisdom

Career Services at CLU offers free services for life including resume reviews and mock interviews.

  • Roberto lands a marketing internship (1st internship in college) with a local graphic design company.
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

After six months on the job, Roberto is fired from his intern position for poor job performance. The poor job performance was due to his lack of time management skills and consistent socialization around the office. Have you ever experienced a tough break only to recognize a valuable lesson from the experience?

  • Roberto continues with his studies and from a recommendation of a peer joins the business fraternity on campus – Delta Sigma Pi.
  • He volunteers on campus doing the photography for events and posting them on social media.
Words of Wisdom

Clubs like honors fraternities, and volunteering for events can be a bright spot on a resume to demonstrate active involvement in and out of the classroom. The more you show employers that you did more than just go to class, the better the impression you will make.

  • He decides to get another internship and starts another internship search. Roberto finds and lands a position as a Sales Marketing Intern (2nd internship in college) for a television company (which relates to his interest in photography and videography).
Junior
  • Roberto continues with this internship and discovers that he really enjoys sales and the public communication he does with his current position.
  • He enters into a leadership position for Delta Sigma Pi.
Words of Wisdom

Leadership involvement are great to put on your resume. You can list any event or organization position where you have demonstrated leadership can show employers you are committed, competent, and have strong communication skills.

Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

Roberto finds that financially he cannot keep up with doing his unpaid internship. He realizes he must find a paid internship. Roberto gives his two weeks notice to his supervisors. Have you ever realized looking back on a situation after it has occurred that although one event in your life can be construed as a hardship, it can also lead to a better opportunity than what you had before?

  • Roberto finds another internship (3rd internship during college) as a Sales and Marketing Intern for a fitness gym (relates to his interest to fitness).
  • He recognizes that he enjoys the leadership and public relations aspects of business organizations and decides to switch his major emphasis to small business/entrepreneurship.
Words of Wisdom

Roberto weighed the pros and cons of his previous work to be able to decipher what he really enjoys. It is important to take time to reflect and weigh out the positives and negatives of your experiences, your values, and your circumstances as you decide on a career. Here is an effective tool for decision making.

Senior
  • Roberto is doing well at his internship. The hardwork he has put in and his skills has been noticed by his supervisors. They have given him more responsibilities and he is now in charge of creating promotional videos for the fitness gym.
Words of Wisdom

Roberto has been given opportunities by his employers from the quality of work he has demonstrated. It is important to always do your best in every position you have. This will help lead to good relations with your employers and may even present opportunities to learn and demonstrate new skills, which can be listed on your resume.

  • He discovers that he really enjoys facilitating programs and seeing projects from the ground up.
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

Roberto discovers that he is battling with a mild form of anxiety, which keeps him from being productive and puts him in a state of depression. He starts attending therapy wellness services on campus. Have you ever had certain personal life situations that get in the way of life? It is important to seek help when life gets to be too much. It’s not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

  • Roberto completes his senior project, which focused on the marketing and start-up of a restaurant (relates to his food interest), and he graduates with a Business Administration degree.

Through the multiple internships he had and through the knowledge gained in his courses, Roberto is determined to build a start-up of his own some day. He found resources at small business dev. center.

Service Years
  • Inspired by a few of his peers who did a volunteer service, and after talking with his past participants, Roberto decides to apply and enter into the Peace Corps.
Words of Wisdom

The Peace Corps and other non-profit volunteer service organizations are great ways to give back and use effort to make a positive impact on a community. It also provides a valuable opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture.

  • Roberto’s Peace Corps assignment is a two-years of service as a business advising volunteer in Costa Rica. During the course of his project, Roberto spends his time assisting in the economic development of the local communities by building design and infrastructure projects. He also helps youth develop their entrepreneurship skills.
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

In his first year, Roberto gets really homesick. He is battling anxiety and bouts of depression from missing his family, friends and hometown. Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt that there were multiple barriers preventing you from doing what you want to be doing? In life you must persist through these challenges. Facing challenges head on can make you stronger.

  • Roberto seeks help through his family and friends.
Words of Wisdom

It is important to create a balance in your life with work and social needs. Self-care is important! Creating time for social activities in a stressful environment can lead to a more balanced living style.

  • He continues to work in his Peace Corps role, making strong connections with those around him, which makes him feel like he is making a positive impact.
  • Roberto finishes his service time in Costa Rica and returns home.

 

Post-Service Trip
  • Motivated through his the experiences he had in his education, internships and service, Roberto decides to start his own business and opens up a restaurant. (1st position out of college).
Bump in the Road STOP & REFLECT

During the first year of his restaurant, Roberto has to stop the business due to high rents and low tourism in his town. Roberto decides to move up north, closer to his family. Has there ever been difficulties in your life that pushed you to work harder? It is important to keep working hard as times get tough.

  • Roberto starts another job search and lands a position as a business marketing advisor (2nd position out of college), for a catering business in his new town. He stays in this position for three years.
  • After connecting with food industry employers and workers in the area and at his company, Roberto and a couple of other people decide to start up their own food consulting business.
Words of Wisdom

Make sure to stay connected with individuals who work in your industry and field of interest. Utilize professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

  • Through this work, Roberto gets to implement all of his interests and his passions for seeing projects evolve from the ground-up. Roberto is promoted to CEO of the company and he stays in this position for multiple years. He eventually goes on to start another business in the same industry (food) and continues to utilize his infrastructure building, staff management, communication and entrepreneurship skills.
©