Sunday, December 2, 2012

I coulda been a diva...or a lieutenant

When I was a high school sophomore (all the way back in 1959), I took a test called the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory (SCII). The questionnaire, still used by career guidance counselors, attempts to predict success in a given career field based on shared interests.

Do you like, dislike, or feel indifferent toward visiting an art museum? White-water rafting? Collecting stamps? These and dozens more questions generate an individual's profile. Then that profile is compared with composite profiles of people working successfully in a variety of fields.

The SCII results were revealed to me and my classmates not one-on-one but in our social studies classes. Any subtle analysis went over our heads. What we heard was, This is what I’m supposed to be.

My result: “Musician-performer.”

I did absorb the caution that while my interests matched those of successful musician-performers, this test didn’t address whether I had the talent or ability to succeed. In fact, I did have musical skills; I played both piano and organ and I performed a fair amount. I accompanied church choirs from age 13 to 20 and played for many weddings and funerals. On the piano I entered a variety of talent contests including the one in which my friend Sharon Nelson and I won first prize, beating Bob Dylan.

Nevertheless, I never really considered a career in the arts. I was already planning to work in advertising, a notion that eventually led to a satisfying career in public relations, writing, design, and marketing. These, too, are creative pursuits, and the profile that matched with “musician-performer” likely would also have matched with some variation of public relations or publications professional.

Alas, one of the serious flaws of the SCII at the time was an almost non-existent set of career fields for women. Profiles were compared only with sample groups of the same gender as the test-taker. Test designers focused on careers that required training. Results depended on having enough women employed in responsible positions in a given field that they could be surveyed. But in 1959, few women were well positioned in business and the professions. My business-minded friends were told they would be good candidates for leadership in the military, the only female group large enough to yield a reliable profile.   

I’ve been thinking about this only because I’ve been trying to figure out why I am drawn to the TV show The Voice. Twice a week when Peter and I settle in the den to watch, he points out that he is only watching this show because I am, and we like to spend evenings together. Should I ever start watching another reality show, he says, I’ll be watching it alone.

We’re probably safe. I’m not a fan of other reality shows, including other talent competitions. While shows like American Idol often feature harshly critical judges, The Voice features coaches (all of them popular singers) who assemble teams and then try to coach them to victory by helping them expand their vocal and performing skills. Even negative feedback is specific and kind, along the lines of “I enjoyed that but you had a little trouble with pitch,” or “This wasn’t your best performance; I don’t think the song showcased your strengths.”

Monday night this season’s final six contestants will perform, and Tuesday night we learn which four remain, having garnered the most votes from the public. I don’t vote for my favorites; I just enjoy the performances and the coaches’ feedback.  

After all, I have a lot in common with them. The Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory told me so.


Grandmother Mary said...

Is that show open to someone like you to expand skills? I have a friend who started singing professionally in jazz clubs in her 60's because she loves to sing. She put out a CD at 70. I say good for her and for anyone who pursues their passion!

DJan said...

I don't watch reality shows either, but I can see why you would be drawn to this one. It's always nice to see that you've written a new post, and I enjoyed learning this new information about you... :-)

Ms Sparrow said...

I don't care for "reality" shows either since most are so obviously contrived. I remember taking one of those aptitude tests back in the 50's and mine only indicated I might be a teacher--no doubt one of the few fields they had data on for women. Since college was financially out of the question, it wasn't an option. When I finally got into college in the 80's, I had no interest in teaching.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have been watching the voice too and enjoying it ever so much. I will be torn when it comes down to four..I have not voted either.
I do enjoy Reality TV, I find it much more entertaining than the murder shows.
I took that test too...Law Enforcement and Child Care Worker were my results..but I did not take the test until 1995:)

stephen Hayes said...

I've never seen "The Voice" but I keep hearing about it. Maybe I should tune in and check it out.

Rubye Jack said...

That's funny. I don't care for reality shows at all but I do always watch The Voice and then always wonder why I like it while I hate American Idol.

I remember the test well. I was supposed to be a farmer or a forest ranger. Go figure.

Daughter Number Three said...

I took a test like that in 1975. I think they had broadened the gender confines a bit by then, because I remember something about laying bricks. I wish I could remember what match it gave me, but that memory is no longer in my cranium.

Green Monkey said...

the talent reality shows don't do it for me, probably because I can't sing. Survivor... on the other hand.... competition, starvation, pettiness, mental and physical challenges... this is a monkey of a whole different color

Pearl said...

My test revealed that I should be a school teacher. :-)


troutbirder said...

Mmmm. Its been a long time since I've thought of that test and have no memory of its results. I can still sing the Harding High School fight song though....:)

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Jenny said...

I love that your song beat out Bob Dylan's. He was quite a writer. Not always the best singer - ha!

Maybe it's time to get back in the game! Isn't there a songwriter reality show something like the voice?

Unknown said...

When I took that, it said I should be a social worker. As a college professor with oodles of lazy students, I'm not sure there is much difference.

Jeanie said...

I will take exception with you on the field of advertising. It is clearly an art. (That's why the field is in the college of Communication Arts & Sciences!). Think about it -- you have to have an eye to know if the design you must present to your client not only conveys the message but is also artistic, has flow or energy or mood. If you are on the account sales side, you have to act every single day when you go out on a call when your child is sick, your basement is flooded or you're ticked off at the place you work for and yet you are trying to sell for it. Because I am in an extremely stressful and sometimes toxic work environment, I realize that I have to use my theatre acting degree every single day just to go to work. Rereading your post, I see you probably get that. But what I see in all you do is talented and out there as a writer. And guess what -- you have your stage, right here!

My blog visiting has been spotty due to vacation and then office overload returning. Oh, yeah. The holidays. I'll try to be back more often, but do want to wish you a merry Christmas! said...

Like you, I'm strangely drawn to The Voice, even though I avoid reality shows like the plague. (Maybe it's the lively repartee between Adam and Blake.) But seriously, Nancy, you rock.... beating out Bob Dylan and all!


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