Photo:After many years of working ho-hum jobs she was good at, Lisa Seiler is now working with her passion and living her dream of working with NASA at the Kennedy Space Center.
So, WHO Do You Think You Are?
The way we see ourselves is often skewed by outside influences. An objective approach can help you learn more about yourself and how to prepare for your best career.
You can ask friends and family members or take an online quiz to discover your best career path. However, it may be wise to invest some time with a career counselor at your local college or career center to get a professional assessment. Don't be intimidated by going in to make an appointment. These professionals are eager to help you get started on your best education, training and career fit.
What will you learn?
• If you are more people-focused or data driven.
• The best training program for your skill set and the time frame it could take to be fully employed.
• The type of position where you could most excel: Big picture or fine details? Stimulation or solitude? Service or structure?
It may seem like a waste of time as you read this. You may think you know exactly who you are, what you are good at and what you like. You may be exactly right, but what if? What if you settle for something that's okay, just because you didn't know how much better it could be?
Read on to learn how one Floridian got herself on the right track to a career she really enjoys.
Don't Learn the Hard Way
When Lisa Seiler began her education, she remembers looking through catalogues at Florida International University and somehow picked the legal assistant program. She earned her associates degree and worked for 15 years as a legal assistant.
"I was really good at it," Lisa says. "As a single parent, I was thankful to make enough to support my son. I had good benefits and worked with great people. I just never saw a future in it unless I wanted to go to law school, which I knew was not right for me."
In 1999, after Lisa's dad passed away, she moved to Gainesville to be near her mom. She started a freelance computer training and repair business helping older people learn software programs. She excelled at that as well, but again felt like it was just a job. As Lisa began to think about a career change, she remembered family trips to Cape Canaveral to watch rocket launches. Even though Lisa grew up in a family of engineers, no one ever suggested she pursue engineering.
"My family always wanted me to do or be whatever I wanted," says Lisa. "When I chose the legal field and was good at it, they didn't push me to do anything differently."
Lisa was at a crossroads. She chose to step out on an adventure to get a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando in 2005. She was eligible for federal financial aid and took loans to support her family so she could go to school full time and still have time with her son. As she was close to completing her degree she had to slow her pace to help her mom through health issues. Lisa changed her major to engineering technology with a space sciences track.
A flyer advertising an internship with NASA caught Lisa's attention. She applied and worked two paid internship rotations. She was offered a job after graduation and began working at Craig Technologies at the Kennedy Space Center in 2009. Since she had taken so many aerospace classes early in her coursework, UCF accepted Lisa to pursue her master's. She is currently working toward that degree while working full time in a career that propels her passion as much as the rockets she helps to launch.
"It really is a dream come true," says Lisa. "I never knew how fulfilling work can be until I was doing what I was really wired to do. I would advise people to take any opportunity you can to discover what is best for you. Life is short and so much of it we spend at work, why not love what you do?"