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Adviser’s book offers guidance on finding the right career at any age

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Katybeth Lee, co-author of “Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age” and a Virginia Commonwealth University career adviser.
Katybeth Lee, co-author of “Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age” and a Virginia Commonwealth University career adviser.

Two-thirds of Americans don’t feel like they are in the right job. A 2013 Gallup poll found more than 70 percent of employees are unengaged at work. In her new book, Katybeth Lee, a Virginia Commonwealth University career adviser, explores why so many are dissatisfied with their jobs and provides a roadmap for those seeking career satisfaction.

“You shouldn’t just have to work to work and hate your job. There’s a lot more to it,” Lee said.

“Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age” focuses on self-reflection and observation of what you are good at, what you like and how you can find the place that fits you. Through stories, maxims and a bit of tough love, the book guides new graduates and experienced professionals through the process of reflecting about their careers and offers possibilities and resources to help individuals find their true purpose.

Lee wrote the book with her father, Bruce Dreisbach, a former Crayola Crayon and Mars Inc. executive who left the corporate world to found a New Hampshire consulting business. Lee previously worked at the University of Richmond as a career adviser before joining VCU last September as associate director for health sciences career and professional development.

This is the first book for Lee and her father.

“You shouldn’t just have to work to work and hate your job. There’s a lot more to it.”

What is the premise of “Sweet Spot”?

We think about, “What Color is My Parachute?” as one of these seminal works and it’s about how to get a job. I think that’s what a lot of new colleges grads are asking. How do I actually get the job? New grads are not asking, “What’s the best place for me?” They just need a job to pays the bills and then they get into those jobs and they’re dissatisfied. The emphasis of this book is more about finding the right fit for you. I fundamentally believe everybody has gifts that are meant to meet a need in the world. When you find that place and you know what your gifts are and how they can actually help, you are much more satisfied and productive in your work.

What does the “Sweet Spot” mean?

In golf and tennis, there’s this concept of a sweet spot. If you know where exactly you make an impact and you are in that sweet spot, your shot is a heck of a lot better. We think the same principle applies to your career. If you know where your values, skills and interests intersect, you can make an impact and will be a lot more successful and satisfied.

How does “Sweet Spot” differ from other career development books?

This [book] touches very lightly on the nuts and bolts of getting a job – how to write a resume, how to interview and how to network. The primary focus is on the reflection and observation of what are you good at, what do you like, what’s important to you and how you can find a place for that. It’s a different piece of the career process.

How does a new graduate follow their passion?

Sometimes new grads will say, “I’ve made a terrible mistake. This career is not for me.” But when they start unpacking their feelings, they realize it’s often the environment or the boss or the mission that’s not for them. So they need to be aware of all of the factors that influence their satisfaction or success and which levers to adjust to get closer to that sweet spot. There are pragmatic components to the journey. If you need to support yourself or a family and you need to make a certain amount of money, then you need to evaluate what are your options with the right earning potential; but without an informed decision that builds off your strengths, you’re not going to be successful.

What’s your best advice for a new graduate?

A career is a journey and a process that builds upon itself. It’s like stairs. You cannot get to the top of the stairs without walking each step. When you came to VCU, it was a step. When you picked a major, it was a step. When you graduated, it was a huge step.  You’ve been on this journey and you’ve been successful. Your first opportunity after graduating is the next step. It’s not the end of the road.

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