By: Kenny Lapins, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and DePaul University graduate from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

In this article, Kenny Lapins, DePaul alumnus and mentor, and senior copywriter at Simple Truth, discusses the process of identifying your core competency and defining your career. And, finally, the power of believing in the company you work for.


Each of us has a core competency. In my case, it is writing. My core competency can be applied in many ways: technical writing, corporate communication, advertising, online copywriting, or journalism. Each type of writing has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Technical writing is challenging, but potentially dry.
  • Online copywriting allows for creativity within confines of strict word count.
  • Journalism provides freedom, but often comes with impossible deadlines.

Once you identify your core competency and narrow your focus on the applications that best suit your personality, you define your career. However, one aspect remains: where to apply your skills. You may have an industry that appeals to you, such as consumer-packaged goods, automotive, or finance. Then, within the industry you choose, identify the companies that appeal to you.

What might not be obvious during this process is that you really must believe in the company you work for. Whether it is morality, ethics, or simply a desire to work somewhere you can feel proud of, what your company does and what it stands for will become important the longer you work there. If you choose a consumer-packaged goods company, are the products ones you would use? Are the manufacturing processes harmful to the environment? If you choose advertising, is there a chance you are going to have as your client a company that you are morally opposed to?

The lesson learned from my career is that I will not last long at a company I do not believe in. After all, if career advancement is a long term goal, would I really want to become senior management at a company I do not believe in? Even if that company is giving me a great opportunity to ply my core competency in creative and satisfying ways, if I don’t believe in the result of my work, I will not thrive.


The Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network connects DePaul students and graduates with alumni to explore college and professional transitions, life challenges, and university and career questions. To connect with Kenny and other ASK mentors like him, visit Handshake. Questions? Contact ASK at ask@depaul.edu.