I have been lucky in a lot of ways in my life, but especially lucky in how my career has gone. Despite not having a degree, I make a good salary doing exactly the kind of work I am best suited to, and that I enjoy the most. ("The most" is a strong statement, but I think there are very few actually existing jobs that I would enjoy more.)
I got my first performance evaluation here yesterday afternoon. I've been working here since May, so I was curious (and anxious) to hear what they would say. I met with the President (and we're a small company - about 20 people - so that's not unusual or anything) and she gave me a page of feedback that included her thoughts and the thoughts of the other engineers & geologists who have worked with me.
Aside from a (legitimate) question about why my billable hours aren't better, I got only positive feedback. That is somewhat of an understatement. I don't want to be too specific here in case my coworkers might read this blog, but it seems that the people here have found me quick, smart, competent, and creative about finding ways to solve their problems. Under "weaknesses" my form says "none." (One person even described me as unflappable, which is untrue, but still nice.)
One of my coworkers told me once, at lunch, that she would like to be a dental hygienist. She'd get to interact with people all day long, and when the office wasn't busy, she could chat with the other employees. She would enjoy doing skilled work with her hands.
Now this person is pretty young, and I can't help but hope that she seriously considers pursuing that career. She doesn't really like what she does here. She doesn't feel very confident about it, and she doesn't really enjoy working with computers. The "format" of the job (working with computers all day by yourself) doesn't suit her very well.
It suits me perfectly.