Did you know that interests are powerful enough to predict educational/career choices, performance, and overall success? That’s what Dr. James Round and Dr. Rong Su discovered when they explored the role of interests in human behavior and outcomes. They also found that interests are 83% more predictive of future income than either ability or personality – and about 33% predictive of professional prestige.
Safe to say, if you’re truly interested in your work, it’s more difficult to get burned out. You’ll also be less likely to switch paths or become dissatisfied with your work.
Do Your Interests Match Your Career? Here Are Real-Life Responses
Of course, your job doesn’t have to be your absolute passion – and this isn’t about romanticizing your work. But it’s immensely beneficial for you when your career piques your interest and keeps you engaged.
In Part One of our series on interests, we explored data that shows how and why interests shape our future. And in Part Two, we explored higher education’s role in cultivating students’ interests. Now, let’s look at some real-life examples of the interest-to-career pipeline. We asked several people what they were interested in as kids and how/if it relates to their career now. Their responses range from hilarious to enlightening – and all of them point to the power of interests:
“I really liked doing arts and crafts when I was a kid. Everything from macaroni art to watercolor paintings. Even now, I could get lost in a craft store for hours. In my day-to-day, I’m a full-time graphic designer. I also recently started a side business where I get to draw digital pet portraits.” – Alex A.
“I’ve always been a ‘stop and smell the roses’ person. As a teenager, I had a seasonal job at a flower farm, and was fascinated by how each part of a plant had its own distinct scent. In college, I started off as a plant biology major, but it wasn’t the right fit. I was fortunate enough to have an academic advisor who really listened to me. She convinced me to switch to chemistry. I never looked back. A couple decades later, and now I’m a chemist in the fragrance and flavor industry. My current role is dedicated to developing new floral scent blends in body care products, so this is quite full circle.” – Emma V.
“I’ve always been a contrarian. I remember challenging my grandfather on something he said when I was just eight years old. It didn’t go over well, but it was certainly the start of vast interests in conflict resolution and justice. I’m really interested in seeing both sides of an argument, and pride myself on having an open mind. Now I’m an attorney, and my favorite cases are the ones we can solve outside of the courtroom with mediation or arbitration.” – Lorraine K.
“I used to love telling on my sisters when they did something wrong and now I work in compliance.” – Kat B.
“When I was nine, I started writing family newsletters to keep everyone informed. I went on to become a journalist. I also loved learning about the history of all the American Girl dolls, and now I attend local historical society events for fun. I even bring out my old Legos sometimes too. It’s really important for me to do stuff that makes my inner child smile. My interests keep things, well, interesting.” – Elizabeth R.
“I feel like none of my interests as a kid relate to my current career. However, the thing I absolutely loved doing was reading out loud. When I was young, I couldn’t figure out how to make that a career or even realized I could make that a career. Now I realize that’s essentially being a voice actor. I often think about that missed career opportunity. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make it happen one day.” – Sal N.
“I was never more content than when I was playing tennis, volleyball, or swimming. I’m a special education teacher now, but recently made the decision to go back to school to become an occupational therapist with a focus in sports medicine.” – Carl C.
“I loved performing in all aspects as a child. Singing, dancing, acting. All of it. Loved it so much that I got a degree in theater performance. Now I manage a local theater that re-opened last year, and I love taking in the glitz and glam of all the performances.” – Maria W.
“It might sound kind of silly, but I’ve always loved shopping. Now I’m a purchasing agent for a landscape company. Not exactly the kind of shopping I’m usually passionate about, but I can totally see how it relates to my interests. Maybe I’ll be a purchasing agent in a different industry one day.” – Laurie M.
Interests are powerful predictors of career fulfillment and success that both higher education and employers can help people leverage.