From the CEC Director: Get to Know Your Strengths

March 15, 2015

Women standing with signs

Strengths is a powerful word, but how do we truly know our strengths and how do we apply them?

By Andrea Wolf, Career Education Center

In the Career Education Center, we provide a variety of assessment tools and coaching for students and alums who often have a difficult time speaking and writing about their strengths. We know how critically important strengths are for seeking an internship, job, networking, and developing careers and leadership roles.

In my exploration to identify additional assessment tools, I found Gallup’s StrengthsFinder created by Don Clifton to be an excellent new tool. Before adding it to our CEC Toolkit, I decided to test it with the Richardson Fellows Group, eight students who participated in the “Changing The Face of Leadership Program” last summer. I wanted to find out its value from the students directly and its application to our work in the Career Education Center.

First, I introduced this web-based assessment tool which provides the top five Talent Themes as a starting point of discovering unique strengths. I explained that it will help them to identify what they do best in whatever career they choose with themes focusing on how to build relationships, accomplish goals and complete tasks. After taking the assessment, the students received a customized report that listed their top five talent themes along with action items for development. It also provided suggestions on how to use these talents to become even better at what they do to achieve academic, career and personal success.

During the program experience, the students were asked to observe how they used their strengths by writing in a journal about what they were doing, seeing, thinking, feeling and learning. At the end of the program, they did a Strength Activity called MY BEST. The goal was to recognize how they saw their talent themes in action during the program and then share the impact of these themes on how they would use it in their life and future career interests. As a culminating project, the students made a presentation to the Senior Leadership Team on their entire learning experience. This included sharing how using their strength themes could help them to be successful as they continue their education and contemplate their career path. The stories they shared on how they envision their future were compelling.

I think we all saw the benefit of StrengthsFinder as it gave students the language and framework to talk about their strengths with greater confidence. They also had an opportunity to experience how their own thinking and that of their fellow students evolved as they begin to focus on applying their strengths in their career and life.

Andrea Wolf is the Director of the Simmons College Career Education Center.