Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finding Your Purple Profession?!

Guest post by Shari Ayers, Director of the Center for Career and Vocation

I humbly submit to you that I am a “Lost Item Whisperer” – finder of lost papers, pursuer of wayward keys, the first person you should call when your passport has seemingly evaporated on the night before that trip-of-a-lifetime. I’m not sure that “lost item whisperer” is an actual profession, but if it is, I’m your gal. 

I have noticed that what often prevents people from finding the things they have misplaced is the tendency to concentrate their search in the expected places. The key to finding lost things is to look in the places that are unexpected, inconvenient and sometimes downright mystifying. (How did my cell phone get in the cereal box?!) The key, in other words, to finding things is to be open to surprise.

November is National Career Development Month. Bluffton’s Center for Career & Vocation is working with wonderful partners around campus to provide workshops, employer visits, networking events, lunch discussions and much more. All of these opportunities are clustered around the theme: “Finding Your #PurpleProfession … through Curiosity, Hope and Gratitude.” It’s a mouthful, I’ll grant you! You may find yourself wondering: what’s a Purple Profession and why does it need finding? Who lost it in the first place?

Here in the Center for Career & Vocation, we use the term Purple Profession to describe those creative, vocational moments when two seemingly unrelated things are held together in a new way: 
  • It could be an undecided student who is leaning toward a double major in business administration and youth ministry because she wants to be a thoughtful, effective leader for faith-based organizations.
  • It could be a public health major who opts for a semester in Guatemala because he wants to use his bilingual skills and his global experience to help change the world.
  • It could be a graduate who always knew she wanted to be a math teacher, but who is now surprised to find that she can also put her Bluffton theatre experience to use to produce the first play her inner city district has seen in almost a decade.

I don’t know if a Purple Profession is ever truly lost, but I do know that in my own life this kind of innovative, exciting, emerging work has usually been found in surprising places, and quite often at unexpected (perhaps even inconvenient) times. What has helped me to be open to such creative callings has been cultivating a spirit of curiosity, a sense of hope and a deep well of gratitude for the opportunities before me. These are the same things we are trying to generate throughout this month long series of events and conversations.

Kendra Nickel and I like to say that the Center for Career & Vocation exists to help students emerge from their Bluffton experience feeling both “career ready” and “purpose led.” Sometimes that can seem like an unexpected, inconvenient and even downright mystifying goal. Always, though, it feels like helping someone to find that true #PurpleProfession.

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