Taking an inventory of what you like to learn about and do.

The next step in your self-assessment is to take an inventory of your interests so that you can focus your job search on positions that are good matches for what you are naturally curious about. This inventory will help you direct your job search towards employment that will be meaningful and of long-lasting interest to you.

An interest is anything that you’re independently motivated to find out about, think about, or do. Is there a subject in school you enjoy reading more about on the weekends? Do you have a hobby that you think about a lot and like to take part in every chance you get? Your interests may be specific and focused (World War II maritime history, flowers of South America, Florida State University women’s soccer, poisonous snakes of Australia), or they may be broad (music, dance, sports, nature). You may have been motivated so far to read a book or two about something that caught your attention, or you may have spent years learning about a favorite topic or taking part in an activity you love.

Interests broaden our engagement with the world. Enthusiasm in one area may lead to curiosity about another, related area. Here’s an example: Amy was interested in dance so she decided to take a Latin dance class. The class used a lot of different types of Latin music, including the works of the musician Juan Guerra. As a consequence, Amy became curious about Guerra’s music and life, and went on to learn more about him.

When you follow your interests wherever they lead, you can develop expertise in areas that seem incompatible or unrelated, but may ultimately prove very valuable in combination. George Will is a Pulitzer-Prize winning political journalist and author whose lifelong love of baseball has made him one of the top experts on the history of the sport. These areas of expertise—politics and baseball—in combination with his skills as a journalist, gave him the ability not only to write and publish many books and articles about both politics and baseball, but to do so in a particular way. One of the hallmarks of Will’s journalism is that whenever he can use baseball to illustrate a point about politics, he does. Will’s devotion to his two main interests have provided him with a unique way of thinking and writing about both.

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