In my senior year of high school, we all were asked to take aptitude tests, to show us what kind of career would be a good fit for our strengths and weaknesses. Of course, the teacher started off the assignment by saying “this is just an online test, it doesn’t mean you can or can’t have your dream job.” A sweet sentiment, but we all knew we’d take the results to heart, and rethink our plans for after graduation. After nearly an hour of sliding a dot along the “strongly agree to strongly disagree” line, our screens displayed what an algorithm believed to be our best career options.
After four years of dedicating my time and energy to college-level marketing courses, event planning, and doing my friends’ American Literature essays, I was confident I’d get results that pointed to a future in business and marketing. But there I was, the daughter of an advertising and photography guru and a marketing master, and I stared at a screen that said quite the opposite. Ranked by the percentage my personality matched with each career, the first page of options filled with paths I’d never thought to go down. Social work, teacher, and lawyer topped all other prospects by a landslide, and suddenly I realized something about myself. When you’re told you’re good at something for most of your life, you figure that is what your future should be. But just because you know you could make a lot of money working at some massive advertising firm, that doesn’t mean it’s the career that will bring you joy and feel impactful.
In this series of episodes of SLMRadio, one of the podcasts we produce, Paul Furiga takes his own phenomenal advice, and tells us his story. Our favorite Storytelling Superhero was once apart of that “mega-media” world, working at Ketchum Public Relations. He describes times where being the editor of the Pittsburgh Business Times grew frustrating, as companies wanted fluff pieces about their upcoming anniversary. As he put it simply “we’re not the Pittsburgh Anniversary Times, we’re the Pittsburgh Business Times.” He didn’t want to write pieces with no heart, no appeal, no story. He wanted to share real stories with meaning, and that’s exactly what he decided to do.
Years later, he was able to create his own path by building a firm for story telling. “I really felt a mission to help great organizations go out there and share their real story.” Paul knew that he wanted to help others tell stories that meant something. He felt this passion all along, and finally had the space to turn that passion into a career. I haven’t found the link to that test we took in high school, but when I do, I’d love to see Paul’s results. And when he gets those results, I’d want to ask him “when you were 18, what career did you see yourself going into?”
Sometimes, the path we’re meant to take isn’t the one we’ve worked towards for years. Furthermore, just because you’re good at one thing, doesn’t mean that is what your future revolves around, and also isn’t the only thing you’re good at. I was once told I was good at decorating cupcakes. That doesn’t mean baking has to become anything more than a rainy-day activity, and it definitely doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I’m good at.
By Savannah Finch
To learn more about turning your passion and skills into a successful career, pick up a copy of Paul Furiga’s book, “Finding Your Capital S Story.”
To hear this full episode, and other chats with Paul, follow this link: