My high school counselor never told me I was especially good at technical writing. I’m not sure why he didn’t see my potential, but grant writing as a career never came up. To be honest, I can’t remember what he did tell me, but I’m 100% certain it had nothing to do with writing grant proposals and I wasn't hearing what adults were saying too well anyway.
I am constantly amazed at the diversity of ways people earn a living. The tiniest fraction of these jobs make it onto counseling sheets. Counselors are, after all, living in a small part of the working world and for all intents and purposes sheltered from what’s going on in the business world. It isn’t their fault, they have an office and a job to do which prevents them from wandering about the way I have meeting people who do odd and interesting things.
For instance, I know a man whose business is to sell space on cell phone towers to companies that want to place an antenna there. I know a man who sells space in a secure data storage facility where companies can pay to keep their servers, (lots of medical companies use their services so the data is secured). I met a young woman who sells bandwidth for cell phones on undersea telephone fiber optic cables between continents (bet you thought cell phones were all satellites too!). I know a man who builds solar water heating panels, and an art gallery owner too. I’m pretty sure that none of these people got into those jobs by following advice based on the results of a high school aptitude test.
I know my grant writing job has something to do with what I did learn in high school, but nobody could have directed me here. My ability in grant writing was developed out of job necessity and interest. Grant writing requires a distinct set of skills that a high school guidance counselor would have a hard time assessing.
Grant writers must be; a) excellent at writing, b) skilled at research, c) excellent at reading technical documents, d) detail-oriented to a fine degree, e) excellent at verbal communication, f) excellent at planning, g) competent at graphic design, h) highly determined, i) good with people, and j) super-organized.
My success as a grant writer was not predictable because the job also requires intensive concentration. My dismal record in completing high school geometry homework would not have recommended a career requiring concentration. But perhaps my career was never meant to follow a linear path, maybe we're all works-in-progress, or maybe I was just another “wing-nut” teenager (OK, I was).
Self awareness and having interaction with lots of people leads to discovery of new opportunities, that’s what led me to a grant writing job. I committed myself to learning and I found new opportunities. I even encountered people who were willing to help me. A grant writing job is one of thousands of possibilities for a person determined to develop their talents. So even if you start off all tangled up with your foot on your head, you may still eventually get where you're going.