Career Coaching

Career coaching is a process by which career development professionals provide guidance in self-assessment, career exploration, career change, personal career development, and the creation of a Personalized Career Action Plan. Coaching is aimed at teaching students the career development process, and instilling the confidence and knowledge to manage a lifelong career process.

Components of Career Coaching:

Career Exploration & Research
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Active Career Management

Components of Career Coaching:

  1. Self-Assessment: Through the critical process of self-assessment, students examine and explore their personal attributes and begin to match those attributes with potential careers.

    There are three main components to career-based self-assessment: skills, traits, and work values, with sub-components that include interests, educational goals, career goals, and leisure activities.

    Skills: Skills are action-based components that describe the activities at which a student excels or shows a strong level of competency. In vernacular terms, a skill is a verb (manage, develop, implement, write, sing, create, etc). Students need to understand how to identify skills, how to determine their level of proficiency with that skill, and then how those particular skills fit a career path. Since all jobs require a specific skill-set, career coaching begins with the assessment of skills.

    Traits: Traits are distinguishing features of a student’s nature; they describe their dominant personality types. In vernacular terms, traits are adjectives (outgoing, empathetic, persistent, etc). According to Holland Theory, all careers have particular personalities associated with them; therefore it is imperative that students discern their personality traits and match them with careers of interest.

    Work Values: Work Values are those things we want to see most in our professions. In vernacular terms, work values are a blend of verbs and adjectives we want to see (or get out of) our jobs (helping others, high achievement, working with data, etc). Values help students identify particular work types and organizational cultures in which they can excel.

    Online Assessment Program: FOCUS Career Assessment helps connect the individual attributes of a student/job seeker to potential career fields, relying heavily on Holland Theory, Personality Theory, and Career Development Theory to maximize a student’s coaching program. Students take FOCUS and it helps match their skills, interests, and values to potential academic majors and career types.

    Paper-Based Assessments: Paper-based assessments are also available for more immediate use and feedback, and as per coach and student preference.

  2. Career Exploration: Career Exploration is when students actively explore careers that match up with their now illuminated skills, traits, and values. Exploration occurs in many ways and through a diversified menu of options:

    Career Research: Career Research is process of researching careers determined through self assessment. This type of research can be done online (Occupational Outlook Handbook, O*NET, etc) or offline (books, magazines, etc.). A well-developed online library on resources is available for students through the Career Development Center.

    Informational Interviews: Students locate and contact an individual working in one of their potential careers and then meet with them to discuss the career in question. These are highly effective in allowing a student to see all sides of a career, and to hear it from someone already working in the profession. The Career Development Center can help identify potential contacts.

    Thematic Programming: Throughout each semester, the Career Development Center holds workshops, panel events, and guest speaker presentations on various career fields.

    Online Tutorials/Webinars: The Career Development Center offers an entire curriculum of online tutorials and webinars on the exploration of careers.

    Individual Career Coaching Sessions: These meetings with a professional career coach help provide direction and clarity to a student’s career exploration. Coaches can ask detailed questions regarding the potential career and the student’s personality and type.

  3. Personalized Career Action Plan: A Personalized Career Action Plan is a guided exercise whereby a career coach directs a student to map out the path to achieving a potential career. It is designed with the student and takes into account their specific skills, traits, and work values, as well as potential limitations, obstacles, and opportunities. The plan will include actionable steps that a student can act on to show progress and success. An action-plan will detail exact steps to take and will incorporate a timeline to keep students on track. The plan is a strategic plan; this means in essence that it can be changed and modified as needed to meet the changing needs of a student.

  4. Experiential Learning Opportunities: One of the best ways to gain information about particular careers is to experience them first hand. Experiential learning opportunities provide students the opportunity to involve themselves in the daily activities of a particular job, career field, or organizational sector (for-profit, non-profit, education, government, etc). From direct personal experience students will learn whether a particular career is a fit for their personality and skills. Additionally, they will experience different business climates, cultures, jargon/languages, and personalities to discern where they best fit. There are numerous types of experiential learning for students to consider:

    Internships: Internships are new learning opportunities for students where they are given actual job responsibilities at a host organization to develop work skills, professional traits, and to prepare for entry into the respective career. Students learn about themselves and the career field, while providing valuable hands-on experience.

    Leadership Activities: Student leadership activities on campus or in the community are excellent experiential learning opportunities. Students should become actively involved in campus and community clubs and organizations to learn how to work with a team, to enact change, and to become a leader. Students should reflect on their experiences and use them as part of the career decision making process.

    Service Learning: Service-Learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with service objectives. Students engaged in a service learning course learn the theory in the classroom and then apply the theory in the community by working with a community partner, normally a non-profit organization. Service learning broadens a student’s worldview and knowledge which can be used in the career decision making process.

    Faculty Mentored Research: Students that participate in a faculty-mentored research project are putting their academic knowledge to use in real life situations. Students engaged in this type of experiential education are developing an awareness of how research is done in the academic community, and how that applies to larger issues within a global society. Students can use these experiences to develop a greater understanding of their skills and interests to aid the career planning process.

    Study-Abroad: Students participating in a Study Abroad opportunity are immersing themselves in a new culture, which helps shape their global worldview. These opportunities are invaluable in today’s business world where globalization is the norm. Students should reflect on their experiences and use that knowledge in their career development.

    Part Time/Full Time Jobs: Students that work either part time or full time are developing experiences and skills that can be used in the career exploration process. By reflecting on their job experiences (likes/dislikes/skills/etc) they can discern what types of environments and job roles they in which they may excel.

  5. Decision-Making: A Career Coach can help a student work through the information they have gathered during the exploration and experience phase. Coaches focus on getting students to discuss their options and how to follow through on them. The focus of a career coach is in narrowing options, not making the choice for the student.

  6. Active Career Management: Active Career Management is the culminating stage where a successful career coach has instilled the skills and knowledge necessary for a student to manage their own career development process for life. Students will be shown how everything they have done to this point is a life-long career skill, and at future moments of indecision, career unhappiness, or forced job change they need to apply the model described above in order to figure out their next steps.