Students will engage in tough decision-making and navigate difficult transitions in pursuit of fulfilling careers. While a myriad of students will rally in aha moments, countless students will also experience failure. Career professionals certainly educate and support students throughout the highs and lows of that process. However, how are we further encouraging students to see the interconnectedness of their career-related decisions and activities, whether they define them as successful or defeating? I enjoy spending time exploring and brainstorming new techniques for helping students see and understand that process from a macro perspective.
It is that birds-eye point of view that enables students to better make sense of their various career-related interactions and experiences.
The most profound piece of career insight I received recently came to me packaged in a graphic designer’s intriguing comparison of career and life satisfaction to typeface design. He called the technique Life Kerning. At the suggestion of a professional designer and alumni of my university, I read Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine-Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life, written by Justin Ahren, Creative Director of Rule29.
In Life Kerning, Justin describes kerning as fine-tuning or making small adjustments to the spaces between letterforms to potentially influence the overall aesthetic of the design. In kerning, a designer can go in and fine-tune the space within headlines or the placement of the title so that the presentation is more enjoyable and beautiful to the reader.
In career and life, students and professionals so often resort to making drastic changes rather than small adjustments when faced with failure or disappointment.
However, what happens when all that is needed to recognize and appreciate the overall impact of individual experiences is a subtle adjustment in perspective within those spaces, and contemplation and reflection? In Life Kerning, Justin provides general rules for tweaking those spaces and perspectives to potentially influence the overall flow and satisfaction within career and life.
I’ve developed a short list of profound insights and quotes from the book that I found to be most relevant to our students’ development. I hope that these insights will be valuable in helping you and your student talk through making those small adjustments.
On “Getting Naked”:
“When you’re naked, it’s hard to hide who you are. No one knows what goes on in your head but you. Think about what you are excited about and what you desire, fear, or love. Ask yourself, are these things worth it? What will it take to get from here to there?”
On “Embracing Your Nerd”:
“One of the biggest revelations in life happens when you realize that all those things that you were in love with and that made you unique early on actually make you special and interesting as adults. Those are the gifts and perspectives that only you can bring into the workplace.”
On Learning From the Wisdom of Others:
“Don’t make decisions in isolation; have a group of wise counselors. Companies have boards and presidents have cabinets. Why shouldn’t you?”
“Even for the smallest changes in our lives, there often needs to be a change of perspective, a proverbial shock to the system, a “realigning of the soul.”
On Balancing as a State of Mind:
“Hopes, dreams, ambitions, and goals are all essential for your career. However, understand that the timeliness you set, the sacrifices you make, and the choices that fall in line with those will affect everything. How you manage all of it is really what forms what we perceive as balance.”
For more Life Kerning, visit http://www.lifekerning.com/
Rounding out the academic year with no particular theme, this month is a grab bag, where contributors can share any topic of interest. Because nobody puts baby in a corner.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.