What is Vocation?

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.  Before you tell your life what
truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” 
-Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

“Vocation is not only about me and my personal fulfillment, but about us and the common good.” 
-John Neafsey, A Sacred Voice is Calling

“Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.”
-Frederick Buechner

"Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation."
- Aristotle

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
-Howard Thurman

Do you have a purpose?  Do you have a calling?  Vocation is not just about a job, money, power, or fame.  Your vocation is what you feel called to do; what makes you feel most alive when you are doing it.  You feel fulfilled when you are pursuing your vocational calling.  All types of work are callings to individuals.  Every role that you serve in, including volunteer work, paid work, and family, join together to fulfill your vocational calling.

Vocation is about living a life that is worth living.  Your vocation is not something you decide upon today and never revisit.  Your vocation should be with you every day - it should be what you feel called to do and then, hopefully, what you are able to pursue each and every day to live a meaningful and fulfilled life.

Clues to your vocation can be found by thinking about:

  • When do I feel most energized?
  • When I lose track of time, what am I doing or involved in?
  • What gives me purpose?
  • What am I talented at?
  • What do others most need from me?


There is significant value in taking time for reflection and self-assessment.  You can learn about yourself and your vocational calling by identifying your values, interests, and skills.  Taking the time to complete self-assessments can provide clarity to your vocational calling.


Values are personal beliefs that are important to you.  They guide and direct your decisions.  They are typically constant throughout your life and make you the person that you are.

Online values assessment - analyze what is important to you in your work


Interests are activities that you lose track of time when you are doing them because you are naturally drawn to them and enjoy them.

Online interests assessment - understand how your interests relate to careers

Strong Interest Inventory - the Strong Interest Inventory provides students with insights into their interests, preferences, and style which aids in selecting a major and career that would be fulfilling.  If you are interested in taking the Strong inventory, please contact Career Services (x1206 / careerservices@etown.edu).


Skills include your gifts and talents that come easy to you and you naturally do well.

Online skills assessment - rate your skills and learn how they relate to careers

CliftonStrengths ® - CliftonStrengths® is an online inventory that provides individuals with their top 5 strengths.  These strengths can be reflected upon to determine success in group projects, courses, careers, relationships, and much more.  If you are interested in taking this inventory, learn more here.