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The second required workshop at the state’s career center was called “Career Navigation” and it was a goat rope. The lead facilitator treated us like we were a class of unruly teenagers and expected the same level of computer literacy from everyone. There were about two dozen people in the large computer lab, but everyone had to sit on the same side of the room, close together.

I was seated between a middle-aged landscaper and a middle-aged electrician. I guess middle-aged folks stick together. The facilitator led us through a series of activities on bookmarked websites. Landscaper Guy was immediately out of his depth, which frustrated the hell out of the facilitator. She demanded to know why he couldn’t figure out how to click open a bookmarks tab. He (very nicely, I thought) explained that he accesses the internet with his phone and doesn’t even have a computer at home. Y’know, that’s totally legit. Whatever he needs to do online, he can do from his phone, right? When the facilitator wandered off to help someone else, I gave Landscaper Guy a crash course on using the mouse and other basics.

The first website was a personality inventory which then linked to possible jobs or careers most aligned with your personality traits. Electrician Dude muttered under his breath that he’d been a journeyman electrician for 30 years and it didn’t matter at this point in his life if his personality was well-suited to performing arts, he wasn’t in any position to run off and join the circus. Again, totally legit. Also really funny.

There’s value in learning about and honoring your personality traits as well as looking at new career options. But it’s sublimely ridiculous to point people in a completely different direction (nuclear physics! Craft beer brewing!) while simultaneously pushing them into overnight warehouse stocking jobs. Does not make sense. “Dream — but settle” seems to be the message.

I ended up helping Landscaper Guy through the four website activities, just pointing out where to click and what to write down; I didn’t grab his mouse or do it for him. He was a nice man who just wanted to get back outside and landscape stuff.

My personality came back “planner/mentor” with career suggestions in teaching and human resources. I hadn’t even thought of HR, so that was a great suggestion. I was also advised that I am both conventional and artistic and I have no idea what to do with that information.

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