What color is my parachute???

As I mentioned in my PA school post, I spent some time with a career coach, as well as Richard Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute? this spring.

I looked into paid career coaching services, but a friend recommended checking out what was available to university alumni at no charge.  I settled on that route as a first try — the only thing I had to lose was a bit of time.

The first meeting with the career counselor was rather free-form, bringing her up to speed with my career path to date: training, responsibilities, work settings, likes and dislikes, etc.

Before our second meeting, I completed the Strong Interest Inventory and shared the results of a previous Myers-Briggs test, and we discussed the results in our second meeting.

My Myers-Briggs type: ISFJ.  I am VERY strong for I (introvert vs. extrovert) and J (judging vs. perceiving), somewhat strong for S (sensing vs. intuition), and moderate for F (feeling vs. thinking).  These results are from several years ago, but your Myers-Briggs type tends to hold fairly steady.

New to me was the Strong Interest Inventory®, which has six “themes.”  The Strong Inventory defines themes as “broad interest patterns that can be used to describe your work personality.”  Your interests can change over time, so results here could vary between time points (in contrast to the Myers-Briggs).

My three highest “themes”: Investigative (moderately high), Realistic (moderate), Conventional (moderate).  Artistic and Social were also moderate, just a bit lower than the others.  “Enterprising” was my one “low” theme (so opening my own business would likely not be a good choice unless I had a business partner who ranked high for this).

Interestingly, I had a lot of “moderate” on the Strong Interest Inventory, and very little that was truly “strong.”  I’m not quite sure what to make of that . . . .

The program then uses your highest two or three interests to suggest occupations that are traditionally high in those interest areas.

My Top 10 “Strong” Occupations:

  1. Health Information Specialist
  2. Computer and IS Manager
  3. Dietician
  4. Production Worker
  5. Dentist
  6. Pharmacist*
  7. Respiratory Therapist
  8. EMT
  9. Vocational Agriculture Teacher
  10. Farmer/Rancher

So, there’s a clear bent toward something health and/or medical (1, 3, and 5-8) with some other random things thrown in there (vocational ag teacher???).

In addition to meeting with the career counselor, I also worked through some of the exercises in the Parachute book, which led to the creation of the petals for my flower (I’m still unclear on how, exactly, a parachute is involved; maybe it was used in place of the flower in a previous edition of the book?).  Anyhow . . .

My Parachute Flower

**If you have any ideas that pop into your head when looking at my flower, as far as career options that I may not have considered, please feel free to share!**

So.  I guess I’m at the “What Now?” point.  I’ve done all of the paper and pencil stuff, all of the research that can be done from the comfort of my own home — time to get up and out and talk to and shadow some people — but who?

I think my ideal occupation would be a health/wellness coach located IN a physician’s office/medical practice.  Someone to whom physicians refer patients.  Unfortunately, there is really no set-up for this in our current medical/health insurance model.  A dietician in a medical practice is probably the closest I could come in our current system.

Dietetics IS a strong contender.  To become a registered dietician (RD), I’d have to complete some additional nutrition/dietetics coursework as well as a year long dietetic internship (I explored this route when I started grad school 10 years ago, and I think it would be around 10 classes; I already have all of the science prereqs, as well as enough nutrition coursework to qualify for many “nutritionist” positions).

I’m also wondering if I should look at epidemiology.  It would use a lot of my existing public health training and knowledge, and I could probably take a few more classes and try to find an entry-level job.

In looking at the “top ten” list from the Strong Inventory, the other thing that might be worth exploring is respiratory therapy.  It’s not something I’ve ever considered, and my gut reaction is that it’s not quite what I want, but I also only have a vague idea of what would be involved.

So that’s that.  I’ve done a decent bit of work, but there’s still more to do before investing time and money in a specific path.

 *My mom always said she thought pharmacy would be a cool career; she’s probably saying, “I told you so,” right now — mother knows best???




  1. Kelly says:

    Hi, Melissa! Thanks for reaching out- it’s great to have made a “friend” thru StL Food Bloggers network. This post caught my eye, and I thought I would share that I am an ISFJ, too. (Actually, I worked in a pharmacy all through college the first time and “pharmacist” was my first intended career path… much at my mother’s suggestion as well.) Dietetics is a second career path for me, too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences!

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Too funny that you were also almost a pharmacist! I’m enjoying my classes so far, which is a good sign, and I have other classmates who are working on this as a second career. I’ve heard the job market for dietitians in StL can be challenging, but I have a few years until I have to face that.

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