How to Find Your Passion and Purpose in Life, with Andrea Koppel

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 334:

How to Find Your Passion and Purpose in Life, with Andrea Koppel

Airdate: February 9, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. 

Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

Your job search gets easier and shorter when you know what work excites you and why. 

Andrea Koppel joins us today to talk about how to find your passion and purpose in life.

She’s the founder and CEO of the College2Career Academy and the host of the Time4Coffee podcast. 

Andrea helps confused college students, and young professionals find careers they love. 

She joins us from the state of Maryland. 

Well, let’s jump right into it, Andrea, and let’s start with definitions. How do you define passion and purpose? And what’s the difference between them? 

Andrea Koppel:

Great question. So, passion is your interests on steroids. So, what is it where you’re doing it, and you lose track of time? You get into flow. It fills you with energy. That is passion. 

Your purpose is something where you feel you were made to do that, or the experiences that you’ve had to date have helped lead you to this place where you are set up to achieve whatever it is you’re doing.

So, for example, you’ve got the now recently retired German chancellor, Angela Merkel. I’m reading her biography right now. When Angela was in school, she was a research scientist in quantum chemistry. But then, the Berlin wall fell, and in 1989, when she was 35 years old, she found her passion and purpose were to help Germany reunite – bring together the east and west – and became a politician, and that became her purpose. She felt she had an opportunity to make a greater impact. 

Mac Prichard:

How can being clear about your passion and your purpose help you in your job search? 

Andrea Koppel:

I think it can help you really weed out the wheat from the chaff. The jobs where you’re just gonna be going through the motions and getting a salary, and clocking in and clocking out, and the jobs where you’re not looking at the clock. You can’t wait to get into the office, and when you’re there, even if you’re working virtually, you lose track of time while you’re there, and you feel like you’re contributing to something that’s bigger than you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s a nonprofit or if it’s a for-profit, but you feel that the work you’re doing has meaning, and it makes you feel good inside. 

Mac Prichard:

Can you have a successful career, Andrea, with jobs that don’t fulfill your passion? What I’m thinking of, for example, are writers or creative types who might have a day job that they go to, and they do well, but their passion lies in something they do after five o’clock.  

Andrea Koppel:

A hundred percent. And I would also say, Mac, I don’t want to be the one defining for you what a successful career is. That’s really up to each individual person. Go for it. If having a nine to five that helps you pay your bills is good for you, and then at six o’clock or seven o’clock whenever it is that you have time to get into your hobby or your side hustle, and that’s filling you, go for it. Don’t let someone else tell you the kind of life that you should be living to have a successful career or successful professional life. That’s not for anyone else to decide. I think that’s a very personal decision. 

Mac Prichard:

You work with job seekers every day. What differences do you see in those who know their passion and purpose and those who don’t? 

Andrea Koppel:

Oh gosh, such a great question, and because I work predominantly with college students and recent grads, most of them do not know what their passion or purpose is, and the truth is, they shouldn’t. Because I believe passion is something that is discovered by doing, by trying, by experimenting. 

In fact, the metaphor that I like to use is that you’re like a mad scientist in a laboratory, and the only way that a scientist can find the right formula is by experimenting, by testing, by putting different chemicals into the test tubes. It’s the same thing for a young job seeker and for a young professional. 

The way that you will uncover your passion and your purpose is by trying different jobs, by experimenting, by being in jobs that suck. That’s not a fail. That’s a learning opportunity. Pivot to something else, and I promise you, if you keep your interests, you notice I didn’t say passion, Mac. If you keep your interests front and center as your North star, you will uncover your passion and your purpose. 

Mac Prichard:

So many people struggle with getting clear about their passion and purpose, especially when they come out of college and early in their career, but it happens to people when they’re considering career changes later in life. How long, in your experience, Andrea, does it take someone to work through these issues? 

Andrea Koppel:

I think it depends on the person, and honestly, I think this is where a career coach can save you a lot of time and a lot of heartache. Because I think that many people feel that their fear is something to be avoided, that if they’re afraid of pivoting, that means there’s something wrong, and, in fact, when you are afraid, that means it’s an opportunity for you to grow, and that is actually where your find the greatest joy and the greatest professional fulfillment. It’s when we stick in our comfort zone and stay there because we’re afraid to venture out into unforeseen lands that we end up delaying those growth opportunities to uncover what our passion and purpose are.  

Mac Prichard:

And what stops people from doing that? You mentioned fear, and I do want to press you a little bit about the amount of time it takes because sometimes, particularly for folks who are starting out in their careers, in their twenties, they might be doing something wrong because they haven’t figured it out. In your experience in working with new professionals and recent graduates, how much time do you counsel them to take to do this kind of work?

Andrea Koppel:

Well, it really depends. First and foremost, you need to have a sense of, is this an organization, a company where I feel that I can grow? Where I feel that I’m reporting to somebody who can mentor me, who can help me learn the ropes? Because the truth is, most of us, when we leave college, had no clue. 

Mac Prichard:

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Andrea Koppel.

She’s the founder and CEO of the College2Career Academy and the host of the Time4Coffee podcast. 

Andrea helps confused college students, and young professionals find careers they love. 

She joins us today from the state of Maryland. 

Now, Andrea, before the break, we were talking about how to find your passion and purpose in life, and one thing I  hear a lot from, particularly younger job seekers, is they want to keep their options open, and they can’t choose among one, just one passion, they have so many, and they’re even unclear about their purpose, and they’re considering several different goals. What do you say to someone like that? Do they have to choose? And if so, how do you help them choose? 

Andrea Koppel:

So, the first thing I say is that if you are a young job seeker, identified your passion and your purpose, you are like in the one percent because most of us, and I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, had no clue what we wanted to do when we graduated.

The second thing I would say is just pick a lane. You are not shutting down your future success or burning a bridge by picking one of those interests, dare I say, passions. Just start. The only mistake that you can make when you’re beginning your career is by letting indecision keep you from beginning. Just take a job, any job, and get started. 

Because as I said before the break, finding your passion and your purpose, and you may have multiple ones over the course of your professional life, is experimenting. It’s trying and doing.  

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to find your passion and purpose, and we were talking about experimentation. But what is the best way to get started? What do you recommend to your clients? 

Andrea Koppel:

So, the first thing that I try to do with the young people that I work with is to sit down, and we go through different exercises in which they uncover what their hard skills, what their technical skills are, and then we do the same thing with their soft skills, their interpersonal skills, and then we look at what their superpowers are, and I’m using that term loosely. 

 

This was actually something that was uncovered by a Harvard developmental psychologist, Dr. Howard Gardner who said that the IQ test was far too narrow a measure of a person’s intelligence and that, in fact, we have eight different types of intelligences. They could be everything from interpersonal, intrapersonal, communications, dance, art. 

And then, we align the superpowers, the hard and soft skills, with different job functions. So communications, project management, finance, marketing. Then I have them uncover all of their interests. What is it that they do with their free time? Their hobbies, the clubs that they may be a part of, the volunteer work, the part-time jobs, maybe even the full-time jobs, the things that fill them with energy and make them happy. Those align with all different industries. 

And those job functions? Well, guess what? They’re cross-cutting into all of those different industries. So, you certainly, for those who have no idea where to start, they can have many, many, many endless options for the types of job functions and industries where they would be excited to work, and that’s how we get started.   

Mac Prichard:

So, you have a list of interests, and you’ve identified occupations and positions and industries and companies. What do you do with that information, Andrea? How do you turn that into the next step and actually start chasing particular positions?

Andrea Koppel:

That’s where the coaching that I do on the tools, tactics, and strategies comes into play in this modern job-seeking environment. Which is a very different one, Mac, from the one that you and I experienced when we first got into it, and it isn’t about one resume fits every job. You have to tailor your resume to every single job that you’re applying to. 

But it’s also about finding those jobs, and eighty percent of jobs are not posted on job boards, whether it’s LinkedIn, Monster, Ziprecruiter, or any of them. They are uncovered through networking. 

So, I work with the young people, who I coach, to optimize their LinkedIn profiles. I then teach them how to use LinkedIn in a super-focused way, not by pressing connect to every single impressive person who’s out there. But how to use their alumni network to be very, very targeted in creating a list of the right types of people for them to be reaching out to. To not only connect with, but ultimately to have a virtual or an in-person networking coffee. 

I teach them how to have a really productive twenty-minute conversation where you are impressing the person on the other line. But also gathering valuable information that can tell you, is this a job I would like? Is this a company I would like? Is this an industry that I would enjoy?

Mac Prichard:

Can you use those skills effectively that you just described, informational interviews, networking, meetings, reaching out to contacts, without being clear about your passion and purpose?  

Andrea Koppel:

I think it’s a waste of time. You really do need to get, and again, I would not use the word passion, especially with young job seekers. If they have it, fantastic. But most of them don’t. Most of them have interests, and that’s why I deliberately use that word. They need to be very focused on three types of industries they would be excited to explore and particular job functions. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels. 

This is where having a coach is invaluable. Because I force the young people I work with to get super clear on that before we start going into the reaching out, networking, informational interview phase. And even for those who have a million different interests, or is, as you said in one of your earlier questions, Mac, passions. 

We just pick three, and the reason that I say that is that one industry may not be hiring as prolifically as another industry. So, you want to have, sort of, spread the wealth so that you can have more opportunities, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. 

Mac Prichard:

What happens to the clients you work with or job seekers that you meet who aren’t clear about those top three interests? What kind of job search do they end up having? 

Andrea Koppel:

Well, I’m happy to say, Mac, that the young people who I’ve coached all get focused. As for the other ones who are unfocused, well, I think we all know them. They’re the ones who are living either in their parent’s basement or they’re in the bedroom that they grew up in, and I mean my heart breaks for them, and that is truly why I got into this space in the first place because in this environment that we’re living in right now. 

And I started coaching in, I should say the podcast, in 2018. So, two years before the pandemic hit. But I was already meeting young people and certainly hearing from their parents about their student, their child who was anxious, overwhelmed, and there was a failure to launch, and my heart does break for them. 

That’s why I started the Time4Coffee podcast because I wanted to expose them to all different careers and all different jobs and let them hear directly from the professionals who are working in them so that that could help them uncover the types of jobs that would light them up. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Andrea. Now, tell us what’s next for you? 

Andrea Koppel:

Well, I would say check out my LinkedIn page because I am posting just about every single day, and I know that this interview is airing sometime early in 2022, and you may see there’s gonna be another College2Careers Academy Clarity Bootcamp. I know that’s a mouth full. 

These are live weekend two-day coaching opportunities for juniors and seniors to help them get both career clarity and then to teach them the tools, tactics, and strategies to uncover those jobs. These are weekend boot camps that I do several times in the spring, so check out my LinkedIn page. 

I’m also going to encourage anyone who is in the career counseling space at a college or a university to reach out to me because I am actually piloting an asynchronous, a recorded College2Career Clarity course, and it’s for free. I’m piloting at the University of Maryland, their school of journalism, at Dickinson college, and there will be many others to come, and I’m offering it in the spring of 2022 to any college or university that thinks this is something that would be of benefit to their students. It’s about a five-hour course. It’s all recorded, and it’s free. 

Mac Prichard:

Terrific, well, people can also learn more about you and your services by visiting your website, that’s time4coffee.org, and that’s with the number four, not the word four, time4coffee.org, and I know as well that you invite people to connect with you on LinkedIn, and I hope when they do that, they’ll not only send you a note, Andrea, but they’ll mention they heard you on this show.

Now, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to find your passion and purpose in life?

Andrea Koppel:

Passion and purpose is discovered by doing. You don’t just, especially if you’re a college student, wake up one day and say, I know what I’m gonna do with the rest of my life. The truth is, I’m on my third passion and purpose in life, and so many of us evolve throughout our professional journeys, and you, too, will evolve. You cannot predict where you’re gonna be five, ten, twenty years down the road. Follow your interests and lean into your fear. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Monique Betty. 

She’s an executive coach and trainer who specializes in coaching professionals and teams. 

Monique earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and has held leadership roles with several Fortune 500 firms, including The Coca-Cola Company. 

In our careers, we may compete for jobs with people who appear to have an edge over the rest of us. 

In fact, says Monique, they are likely following one or more of seven principles that she shares with her coaching clients.

Join us next Wednesday when Monique Betty and I talk about how to create a career advantage.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Jeni Wren Stottrup. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

Any job search is easier if you know what you’re looking for. Too many job seekers settle for a job that pays a good salary but doesn’t fulfill them. How do you figure out your passion and purpose before you try to land your next position? Find Your Dream Job guest Andrea Koppel says you have to experiment. Try out as many things as it takes to discover what you love. She recommends choosing three industries to explore. And Andrea reminds us that we may have several passions in life, so follow what you love and don’t be afraid to change. 

About Our Guest:

Andrea Koppel is the founder and CEO of the College2Career Academy and the host of the Time4Coffee podcast.

Resources in This Episode:

  • Take advantage of the huge archive of conversations Andrea has with career professionals by visiting Andrea’s website at time4coffee.org/.
  • From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.