The Path to Professional Fulfillment – Using Your VIPS

Do you want to find a job that you will love?  If so, the key to is first discovering where your Values, Interests, Personality and Skills (VIPS) intersect. The self-awareness you will gain from getting to know these areas will help you make decisions that will lead you towards your career goals. Each decision you make may change the course of your professional path.  The key is to have confidence that each decision is the right one for you in that moment of your life.  The more awareness you have of your VIPS, the stronger your sense of self will be, which will guide your decision making toward professional

So how can you learn more about your own VIPS?   One way is to truly pay attention to how you feel with each decision you make, each opportunity you experience.  Is the feeling “right’?  If not, can you identify the reason why it is not? There are many opportunities to make different kinds of decisions.  With each decision you can learn a bit about yourself and to understand that the choices you make are deliberate and worthwhile. Each decision brings you to the next immediate step which will present opportunities you may not have considered.

Another way is through assessments. Yes, there are assessments you can take through the Career Development office that will help you develop a stronger understanding of these four areas of yourself and provide you with a much greater awareness of the following key areas necessary for professional fulfillment.  The four areas to consider are:

  1. Your values and how they were shaped.
  2. Incorporating your interests into a future career.
  3. The type of environment that would be a good fit for your personality.
  4. The skills you will want to use in your future job (not what you are good at, but what tasks you would want to perform).

In a sense, taking one or more assessment is a bit like taking a shortcut to self-discovery.

The people I meet now who love their jobs have found professional fulfillment.  They are energized by their work.  Someone said to me once that to truly understand if you love your job is to ask yourself, what parts of my job would I do for free and for which parts do I need to get paid.  Some of these people had a plan that they followed because perhaps they had started out with a bit more self-awareness.  But others have learned to recognize when their Values, Interests, Personality or Skills were not a match for that particular place or role and made a change.

My advice?  Try something, and reflect.  Ask yourself… does this fit in with my values?  Does this interest and energize me? Am I enjoying this?

Then, when the answers to these questions become “no”…

Make a decision, make a change.  This is scary, it’s effort, and it’s a possible risk.  Again, think about where the risk can take you and how much better your life will be.  Also ask yourself what the risk will be if you choose what might be the easier path and accept your circumstances.

If you repeat these steps with every new experience you will eventually know intellectually and intuitively what feels right and that is where you will grow and flourish.  The self-awareness you will gain by taking one or more assessments will help determine if the path you are on is the right one for you.  If not, your assessment results will serve as your virtual compass that will guide you.  This is how you will develop your VIPS.  If each decision you make is truly the right one in that moment, it will be just one step in a series that will ultimately lead you to your goal –professional fulfillment.  Right now you may not know what that will look like.  And that’s OK.

*Contact the Career Development office to learn more about the different self-assessments we offer.

Logistics of International Co-op

Last week, I was a panelist at a global co-op event held by GlobeMed. A lot of the questions directed toward the six of us (students who had co-oped in Uganda, Ghana, and South Africa) were logistical – what resources we used on campus, how we set up our living situation, how we chose our co-ops – so I thought I’d write about that since there might be some people who are curious about the application process itself.


Pursuing an international co-op was not as difficult as some people make it out to be. Instead of my college advisor, I worked closely with the advisors at the international co-op office, newly reformed as the “Global Experience Office,” since they were more familiar with the process of applying to international programs.

With most international experiences, it is a lot easier to work with what is called a provider. Providers are agencies that link volunteers with on-ground programs. Each site has a local coordinator, who sometimes becomes your host upon your arrival. In my program, I had a host family so I did not have to worry about food or accommodation for the entirety of my stay. As such, you do end up paying to volunteer, but the funds go toward your accommodation, placement into the program, and support from international coordinators. When I went to the international co-op office, I was given a long list of clinical-related programs through many different providers. I chose my provider based on affordability, type of work, and past reviews.

Choosing the country I wanted to work in was another ordeal. The provider I chose, Experiential Learning International, has sites in 28 countries, giving me plenty of options to choose from. I worked in a process of elimination. Growing up, I lived in six countries, mostly in Asia, so I decided that I wanted to visit another part of the world. I also wanted to avoid very developed areas that were similar to the US, so that eliminated Europe. I found that a lot of the Latin American countries required Spanish skills, so that was also off the table. What remained was Africa. South Africa was too developed for me – I wanted a very rustic and real experience. I also eliminated countries in West Africa due to the Ebola scare. So I was left with East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kenya was on the US no-travel list due to unrest and occasional terrorism acts, so I decided against petitioning with Northeastern to attempt to go anyway. They do not speak much English in Tanzania, so I was finally left with Uganda. In hindsight, I am very happy with the choice I ended up making. Although I had no idea at the time, this co-op turned into the most eye-opening experience I’ve had yet and gave me opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

I cannot recommend international co-op enough. Whether you choose the country before the work placement or vice versa, there is so much to learn from living and working in a place that is completely outside of your comfort zone. If you do decide to pursue an international experience, good luck and enjoy it!

New Blog Series Announcement: Beyond the Green Line

BGL-seatleskyDid you know that several big cities across the country recently saw a huge uptick in their numbers of young college-educated professionals? Did you know that San Francisco was number 1 on Forbes list of America’s 20 Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2016?

Stay tuned on Tuesday for the debut of Beyond the Green Line (BTGL), a new blog series featured on the Northeastern University Career Development Blog, ‘The Works’.  In it, we’ll highlight a particular metropolitan region outside Boston and give you an inside look at the local food and music scene, fun things to do, and the industries that are thriving in the area.  We’ll also throw in some current job postings for you to consider. And Tuesday, we’re looking at the San Francisco Bay Area.

We’ll be needing your help too. After each Beyond the Green Line post, we’ll let you know what area we’ll be highlighting next so you can send us your photos of that area whether you’ve co-op’ed there or are from there originally. If you’re lucky, we’ll include your picture in the post! And of course, let us know if there are particular metropolitan areas you want to know more about – we’ll add them to our list for future posts!