What’s the connection between your interests and your career?

Hello everyone, 

This is the fourth blog in a series related to my new publication, The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change. If you’ve been following this series, skip the next paragraph.

If you’re new to this series, here’s a quick recap.  I am sharing information from the book chapter by chapter.  Early in the book, I introduce the A.S.T.E.R. Career Model, which I created to help others make smoother career transitions. The acronym stands for Assess, Seek, Test, Execute and Repeat. Assessment requires that you discover (or rediscover) your V.I.N.E.S., which stands for Values, Interests, Natural disposition, Exceptional strengths, and Skills. To see previous posts in this series, click on the following links 1st post,  2nd post, 3rd post.

This blog will focus on what interests you. Specifically, how knowing your interests can guide your career choices. You can explore your interests in formal and informal ways. Two methods are looking at what captures your attention, and another is obtaining your Holland Code. We will explore these ideas below. Either way, when uncovering your interests, always look for themes among the data you have collected. 

Let’s start with interests on a broad level. If you pay attention to what you are drawn to, you will gain insight on activities that you might enjoy for making a living. Consider what you love to read, watch, learn, and do. If you think about your favorite podcasts, shows, and reading material, do you see a theme among them? As an example, what insights could you gain from knowing that someone loves to read about health, enjoys exercise, watches videos on new workout tips, and is taking a tennis class? You could infer that they like to be physically fit and may enjoy being in the healthcare industry. If they are a good teacher too, they might consider becoming a fitness trainer or coach. If they like helping others, they might consider physical therapy or vocational rehab.

Interests aren’t the only factor to consider when making a career choice. After all, just because you like to stay fit doesn’t mean you want to be in a healthcare job. The person mentioned above may need a higher and more stable income than a fitness trainer. That said, interests are still worth evaluating because you can usually incorporate some aspect of interests into your career path. If you can’t get a perfect alignment of your interests and employment, you might enjoy working as close as you can get to that area. For example, you may want to be an accountant, and you love sports. Since accounting work is similar across industries, why not target an employer tied to sport, such as a sports team, an athletic venue, or an athletic outfitter? 

I’d like to step back for a minute to briefly address passion as a career tool. I don’t agree with the common advice that you should single-mindedly follow your passion. For one thing, you may have many passions over a lifetime, so focusing on one alone may not be practical. Secondly, you may not be able to make a living on your passion alone. Third, for those who desire to turn a passion into entrepreneurship, tread lightly. While I am very supportive of the gig economy and portfolio careers, I know that entrepreneurship is not for everyone.


Another way to assess your interests is by obtaining a Holland Code. John Holland, who created this framework, recognized the importance of assessing interests when giving vocational guidance. The Code is a series of letters R, I, A, S, E, C. Each letter stands for a category, They are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. In the interest of brevity, I will direct you here to see a brief summary of the six interest areas. If you want to find out your Holland Code, there are links shared at the end of this post.

In a variety of places, you can complete answers to obtain a “score” (though there are no wrong answers). A number is calculated for each letter, and the top three highest scores represent your Holland Code. For example, the scores of R = 10, A = 7, I = 15, S = 48, E = 40, C = 38 would represent a Code of SEC or Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

Once you know your code, You can look for jobs, organizations, and work environments that match. For example, a counseling office is a very Social type of workplace. Any artistic type of job title would likely fall under “A” but so could a museum or art gallery (work environment) or the Smithsonian (organization). 


1) You should look at all combinations of your three letters. For example, my scored letters are SEC, but I should look at jobs with any combination of those letters, such as CES, SCE, CSE, ESC, and ECS. 

2) Is one letter much higher than the others? If so, consider any jobs that start with that letter.

3) Do each of your letters have a very low score? This could happen because you have not been exposed to many work environments. It could also indicate that you are not in a good state of mind. If that’s the case, seeking mental health resources before tackling your career would be wise.

4) Do each of your letters have a very high score? This could suggest that you are a mulitpotentialite, a term coined by Emilie Wapnick. If that’s the case, you may focus on one area of interest now, and over the course of your career, you may dive deep into others. This TED talk addresses mulitpotentialites.


After obtaining your Holland Code, it will likely suggest job titles that match your Code. Don’t take the suggested titles too literally. If some of the titles don’t click for you, look at jobs that are in a similar area of interest but are different in some way (e.g., the values and skills align better). The Holland Code is a very “in the box” way to look at careers. Some jobs are too cutting-edge or too unusual to be suggested. Also, for some creative types, your Holland Code results and the process itself might seem too linear. That said, I have seen the Holland Code help many individuals through a career transition. 

Finally, know that your interests can change over time. As opposed to values and personality, which are usually more fixed, interests can ebb and flow depending on the type of work you are doing and what is happening in your life. As you grow and are exposed to more things, your interests will evolve. Assess your Holland Code at various points in your career and save the results. It can be interesting to see how they change over time. 


There are many ways to find your Holland Code. One is the Interest Profiler through the USDOL’s My Next Move website. A second resource is through a community college website, and it offers a short quiz to find your Code. You can also assess your activities in the workbook companion to The Purple Parachute on pages 5-12.  

Once you have figured out your Holland Code and informally assessed your interests, look for themes among your results. Keep in mind that it can be hard to see your own. Sometimes you are too close to it. If this is the case, ask for help from people you know and trust. Ask them what themes they see in your life when it comes to interests. If that doesn’t help, consider seeking professional career guidance. 

There are so many facets to address with interests and careers, it’s hard to write about this topic and keep the blog to a reasonable length. I hope this post has given you a starting point for assessing your interests. If you need more help with assessing your interests, set up a call with me using this link

P.S.  If you have read a copy of my book, please consider writing an honest review for The Purple Parachute on Amazon or Goodreads! I would really appreciate it!