Adrienne Adamovich was the first teenager I worked with. She came to me because I had helped her mom, Vera, change careers.
Vera told me that Adrienne had come home from high school and announced that she was going to major in Early Childhood Education adding, “I don’t remember her enjoying babysitting.” Adrienne’s response was, “Mom, that doesn’t matter. This is where the jobs will be in the next few years.”
Vera continued, “As a mother, that lack of logic frightens me. I wanted more for my daughter.”
Adrienne had taken vocational aptitude tests at school, but found that the results weren’t making sense. “One said I should be a teacher, another, a forest ranger, and yet another, a lawyer.”
Instead of giving her standardized tests, Adrienne and I sat down and talked about her interests, her strengths and her past successful experiences. I then suggested kinds of careers she might really enjoy. One job she could do while in high school was work as a receptionist at an auto garage.
Now at 23, married and with a young son, Adrienne has the ultimate receptionist job.
She is the personal assistant to the general manager of Bell Canada. As Adrienne says, “If you look at what I do today, it is exactly what George said, and I love every minute of it.
“I handle all communications, human resources and provide assistance on any projects.
“George said I would like doing something different every day and I do. One day I organize a big conference. The next day I put together a benefit program.”
By the time I met Adrienne she had had several jobs, including a cashier at a discount store, an ice cream retail outlet, order taking and delivering pizzas. That summer she was going to work for her geography teacher as a youth supervisor on a field trip to the Rockies.
A number of enjoyable activities stood out from these work experiences, but the big one was communicating on the phone. Generally teenage girls love talking on the telephone, but she had a gift for it. She loved answering phones and providing advice and information over the phone.
She also enjoyed building relationships with customers. At one cashier’s job, she made friends with many of the regulars and enjoyed their visits to the store so much that when management changed and adopted a less friendly attitude towards customers, she no longer found the job stimulating and quit. This was a strong clue to the innate talent she has for building relationships, one that harmonizes with a career in customer service.
When it came to natural talents, it was obvious why she enjoyed working on the phone so much. Adrienne excels at establishing, building, and maintaining relationships when giving information or when following up on requests. She has a natural talent for developing rapport with individuals through repeated contacts, and continued interaction generally increases relational bonds.
In addition, I could also see that she has good organizational skills, including prioritizing, scoping and projecting the amount of time required to be spent on tasks in her schedule.
She sets personal priorities, makes adjustments quickly and easily, and seems to get the important things done on time. She has a knack for identifying essential “action items”, when each should be done, in what order and, often, by whom.
Adrienne enjoyed using her talents where she could exercise some decision-making independence and with a minimum of supervision. Instead, she enjoys intermittent support with feedback.
Bell Canada appreciates the abilities and attributes she brings to the job. In fact they are paying for her to take college classes to enhance her effectiveness on the job.
Nowadays, I see many high school students and we apply what I learned from Adrienne’s experience. If what your guidance counselor says resonates with you, listen. But if you can’t connect with it, dig a lot deeper. Your career choices have to be grounded in something that says, “This is me! This is who I am!” Build your career on your strengths, not your weaknesses. This is good stuff to know before going to college.
Lastly, I have some advice for parents: listen to your kids and honor who they are.