Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli

Have you ever felt like you weren't living up to your potential or something was missing in our life? Finding one's life purpose is a constant struggle for many people. Fortunately, there are resources available to help with the process. One such resource is a career/interest test that I utilize in my Expressive Arts Coaching practice. The test is based on John Holland's Theory which concludes six personality types exist: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Most people are a combination of these and the test reveals which ones by producing a three letter code, such as RIE (realistic, investigative, enterprising). Knowing your code is beneficial for self-awareness and aids in career planning.

The test provides other information such as: if the test-taker prefers to work alone or with others, do they prefer practical learning or academic environments, are they suited to be a leader or not, and a list of ten possible occupations is given.

Rachel M. is a 26 year old undergraduate art student in Chicago. After switching her major a few times, she came to me seeking career clarification since she will be graduating soon.

According to Rachel's test results, her Holland Code is SAE = Social, Artistic, and Enterprising.

She scored highest as a Social type implying that she enjoys and prefers working with people not data (like an accountant) nor objects (like a stained glass artist). The way she enjoys working with people isn't by protecting them (like a police officer) but instead by helping, teaching, counseling or training them. The test stated that her Social skill set includes, but not limited to, being comfortable around all kinds of people including strangers, feels comfortable engaging people, and is a good listener. Rachel concurred that she is confident in these areas.

Her second highest type was Artistic, which indicates that she values originality, imagination, independence, and beauty. She enjoys a variety of ways for self-expression (multiple tattoos adorn her body). Rachel again agreed with the test results stating that she is creative, prefers being around people who are non-conformists, and that she enjoys many types of music and writing.

Now her third personality type was a big surprise for the both of us - Enterprising. Enterprising people are usually the sellers, marketers, managers, the slick business wheelers and dealers, or politicians; all of which Rachel is not. Enterprising folks enjoy networking, taking risks, competition, and status. Again, these aren't traits I would have connected with this funky 26 year old. But Enterprising people are also the entrepreneurs. The ones who want to create something for themselves and have a myriad of ideas of how to do it. When talking this over with her, she revealed how owning her own business is an exciting prospect. Her mindset shifted after discussing the pros and cons of going into business for herself. Rachel's entrepreneurial spirit was realized, awakened, and verbalized.

Top Ten Occupations for Rachel M.

1. Special Education Teacher

2. Elementary School Teacher

3. Florist

4. Speech Pathologist

5. Retail Sales Representative

6. Cosmetologist

7. Foreign Language Teacher/ESL

8. Advertising Account Manager

9. Occupational Therapist

10. Community Service Director

Now let's go over this list and the conversation I had with her about each of them.

Rachel at one time, majored in Art Education. She was planning on teaching elementary art classes and had a couple temporary jobs doing it. The children with whom she worked adored her energy and instruction but Rachel concluded that even though she was good at this occupation, she did not want to make it her career. Therefore #1 and #2 aligned with her values and interest but it wasn't her soul's calling.

She has no interest in flowers. So #3 florist isn't a career to consider.

#4, #9, #10 are all careers she thinks are honorable but nothing she wants to do. She doesn't have any interest at this time to work in a non-profit or community setting.

#5 and #8 are positions that do not interest her because she foresees being her own boss and not working for someone else. As she explained, "I don't want to work so hard so someone else gets the profit and the glory."

#7 In 2007 Rachel enjoyed working as an ESL (English as a second language) instructor in China. Traveling and learning about other cultures is a hobby of hers. However, these days she's more interested in planting roots than working/living abroad again. She informed me that she doesn't have any interest in teaching ESL classes in the United States.

Now #6 Cosmetologist was her Aha! moment. Rachel shared that she has always enjoyed makeup, beauty products, health and wellness. She once considered becoming a licensed esthetician or a massage therapist. However, the idea of providing the same service every day bored her.


What will this social, artistic young lady, who has the entrepreneur spirit, do with her life? How will she incorporate her passion for health and beauty?

Her plan is to open a funky but approachable salon in an up and coming Chicago neighborhood that will offer mostly organic products and services.

Where does the SAE come in?

Social = In the salon environment Rachel will work with people consistently, helping them look and feel their best, while advising them on products and other services. She looks forward to working with women's groups and other community groups by offering special salon days or offering services for fundraisers. She feels her salon will be an integral business in her immediate community.

Artistic = She's already envisioning the interior design to include pieces from her travels and artwork from friends and connections from art school. Also by hiring creative hair stylists and employees, she'll be surrounded by artistic energy. She will also exercise her creativity in creating the advertisement and marketing materials.

Enterprising = Rachel is giddy about becoming her own boss and all the duties it includes. She is even excited about her filing system and other office management systems. She is busy collecting resources for marketing her business and is gathering ideas for a logo, brand, and website. Two items I advised her to put on her long to-do list is to visit the SBA, Small Business Administration for general information and also to meet with SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) to obtain a free business consultant.

Rachel M. is finally feeling confident with herself and her post graduation plans. She exclaimed, "I cannot thank you enough for validating all my concerns and hunches and helping me clarify exactly what I want to do with my life! You may have just saved me from years of unhappiness!"

Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli
My Creative Life is a weekly interview, with the same five questions, with folks who are living authentically, creatively, and making a living out of their passions.

This week I am honored to have my first international guest - Virginia Lowe of Australia. She has built a career around what she loves...books, particularly children's books. Inspirational story, indeed! (Isn't that a great and telling photo?)

1. What do you do? (career wise - whatever you want to share)

I am the proprietor of Create a Kids’ Book, a manuscript assessment (critique) service, which works specifically with children’s books. I started it thirteen years ago, and there still does not seem to be an agency anywhere in the English speaking world, that is only for children’s books. As well as advice on style- and copy-editing on manuscripts (written for toddlers up to young adult), we hold e-courses on creating both picture books (text with or without illustrations) and junior and young adult novels. The tutor gives feedback on each of the exercises – effectively mentoring the author through the process. There are also monthly workshops and a free e-bulletin. There is an American branch as well.

I am fortunate because both my business and my book feed into each other. Although they are not exactly on the same topic, both are relevant. Details of both book and business can be found on

2. How did you prepare for this career? (formal and informal education, books, workshops?)

I was a children’s librarian at first then lectured on children’s literature and English at university. I did not begin university until after this (I was 38), and went on from a BA (Hons) to an MA, and a little later a PhD. During the library course (before university) I had met and been enchanted by Books Before Five by Dorothy Neil White – a librarian who had made notes on her daughter’s book contacts. I decided I would keep a similar record when I had children, and I did, for both my son and daughter. I kept the record regularly for about thirteen years, over 6000 handwritten pages. I used this for my PhD thesis, and later again as the basis of my book Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell (Routledge 2007). The book covers the years from birth to eight.

Later I was judge for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s annual Book of the Year Award, and convenor of the Crichton Award for first time illustrators, and it was on the strength of this, as well as the thesis, that I went on to found the business.

3. Besides living according to the values of creativity and independence, what other values are you honouring by following this path?

The business helps others to write for children, which is not only increasing the quality of manuscripts presented to the publishers and ultimately available to children, but is also good for the authors as they learn to write to their full potential in their specific genre.

With the book, I hope to convince people not to underestimate infants and young children, to expose them to many books starting in infancy, and to actually read the words (rather than just talking about the pictures). It has useful examples that professionals (librarians, kindergarten teachers ... ) can use when convincing others of the value of books with the very young.

4. What struggles or challenges do you face, if any?

I guess my current challenge is finding enough time for everything. Of course working from home, and on something you enjoy doing, means that you don’t take much time off. Fortunately dear John (retired) looks after the house, cooking, washing etc. We garden together, and walk, but not as often as we should. I tend to get up, sit down at the computer, and leave it at about 12 at night.

Finding time to write the academic papers that I want to write (partly as publicity for my book) and also to get back to my novel, are challenges too).

5. Can you give some advice to folks who would like to do what you do?

Well, I have a unique set of life-experiences which enables me to successfully run the business (many children’s books that have come through us have gone on to be published commercially).

I couldn’t advise anyone to take up my specific career path, but just bear in mind that all your experiences may well be leading you somewhere that you cannot predict, and if you are a flexible thinker, and make use of all your skills and life-experience, you can’t be sure what exactly-right job will come your way (or else you will see your way through to create).

If you are interested in keeping a similar parent-observer diary of your children, just persist at it, and eventually it may, like mine, turn into a valuable study for other people to use (as mine has). Someone recently referred to my two as ‘everychild’ because they stand for all those children whose mothers started a complete developmental record, but didn’t keep it up for very long! Anyone interested in how a love of books begins, and the cognitive development of young children, will enjoy my book.

Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli
Do you know about Ithaca's Fine Chocolates Art Bars? It is such a unique idea - organic, fair-trade chocolate bars with a mini art print inside!

from IFC's website:
  • -To bring together and share two of the universe's greatest gifts: fine art and fine chocolate!

  • -To inspire people with the luxuries of exquisite chocolate and art in the midst of their hectic lives--because as Picasso said, "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday living."

  • -To promote and support artists.

  • -To expose people to contemporary art and educate them about it.

  • -To help directly fund both local and global art education programs.

  • -To foster a recognition of the importance and potential of art in education and society.

  • -To make the greatest possible social impact while leaving the smallest possible environmental footprint.

They find the artwork for the bars by asking for submissions. These are the 8 abstract paintings I entered.