When I graduated from college, I had no idea. Full stop. I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue professionally, or how to transition to a career in it.
I was unsure of what I was ‘good’ at, whether I should apply to jobs I was already fairly skilled at, or explore other fields of interest that I could upskill in while on the job.
Flustered and frustrated, I did the only thing I could think to do. I messaged seniors from my college and emailed my professors. Calls were made to any family members, parents’ friends, or friends of friends that had any sort of work experience in my fields of interest.
I basically spoke about my situation with anyone who would listen, and sought guidance wherever I had the faintest hope of finding it.
Now I realise that I was simply searching — in my own highly chaotic, exhausting, unstructured, and ultimately futile manner — for a career coach.
Who Is A Career Coach?
Career coaches are professionals with specific training in areas like career planning, resume building, interviewing, and negotiation. In addition to being up-to-date with current hiring practices, a good career coach can help you identify the best aspects of your experience and skills, and the career fields they are best suited for.
You could try to find an informal career coach from your own network, the way I tried to. However, talking to these informal mentors can be fruitless — the way it was for me– unless you have a clear idea of what you want out of it , and how to get the support you need .
A professional career coach is trained to recognise and give people the guidance they need, even when (or especially when) they don’t know what they need. Hiring a good career coach, then, can be a great step to take when you’re starting out in your career journey.
Reasons Why You Should Speak To A Career Coach When Starting Out
They Can Help You Narrow Down Your Options
After graduating with a liberal arts degree that introduced me to a vast sea of courses I loved – from history and literature to digital marketing, philosophy, film appreciation and even astronomy – the career options before me seemed terrifyingly endless.
Starting your career journey can be especially hard when you don’t know which path to take.
No matter your academic experience, every academic stream has numerous career paths branching out from it. Which role best suite you? What kind of work will you enjoy doing?
Whether your options are too extensive or too vague, a good career coach can help you identify and narrow them down to the best and most viable options.
They can also introduce you to better career options based on their understanding of your skills and interests, that you might not have otherwise considered.
They Can Help You Realise Your Professional Value
“One of my biggest fears when starting out was that no one would want to hire me,” says Prerna, a graphic designer and freelance web developer. “I felt like other than my degree, I had no other real qualifications or skills that would get me a job. The insecurity and imposter syndrome during my initial days of job hunting was very real.”
Prerna says that a career coach made her see value in the experiences and skills she did have. “Sometimes you need a professional, objective eye to be able to tell you have skills that people will want to hire you for. The career coach made me realise that all those hours I’d spent “doodling” and learning photoshop weren’t a waste. I never would have considered learning web development if she hadn’t mentioned it as a potential career path.”
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Your insecurities about your lack of experience and clarity as a fresher can sabotage your career journey more than the actual lack of experience or clarity can.
A career coach can recognise your unique life experiences and professional value, and make you aware of it. They know exactly what skills are best suited to what roles, and can motivate you by making you aware of the professional value you possess.
They Can Help You With A Personalised Career Plan
Sushmita, an accountant who also has a side hustle as a Kathak dance teacher, says her career coach helped her plan her career in a way that she didn’t have to give up either of her two interests.
“I have heard people talk about unsatisfactory experiences they have had with career coaches, but I, fortunately, had a great career coach,” she says. “I had several sessions with her at the start of my career. Over those sessions, she helped me narrow down my career options, fine-tune my job search process, as well as devise a career plan that would fit in my passion for dance.”
Sushmita says that her career coach helped her understand how she could balance upskilling as a dancer while learning at her corporate job. Today she is a dance teacher with a loyal clientele of students, aside from being a skilled accountant.
A career coach can not only help you plan your next move, but also your long-term career moves. They can guide your research, force you to think of long-term goals, and help you create an actionable and sustainable career plan.
They Hold You Accountable To Your Plan
It can be hard to get your professional life on track, but it’s almost impossible to procrastinate when you have someone to report your progress to.
Maybe you hate doing research. Maybe you’re so scared of rejection that you don’t apply to a jobs that are perfect for you. Or maybe you’re too lazy to continue with that online upskilling course.
When starting out, a career coach can hold you accountable for doing things even when they’re stressful or hard.
They can help you get back on track when a career move fails, and hold you accountable to your plan.
They Can Help Ease Stress In Your Personal And Professional Life
Starting out in your career is an incredibly stressful phase. Having to make decisions about your career that are often long-lasting and to apply to jobs with no previous experience is no easy task.
The stress and confusion can negatively affect not only your professional but also your personal life.
By easing the job search process and providing solutions to your professional woes, a career coach can positively impact your personal well-being as well.
Nidhi, a writer, says that after she graduated, her parents were just as worried about her not getting a job as she was.
“My parents and I were fighting constantly. I had a science degree so they kept pushing me to apply for jobs that were conventional to that stream. I, on the other hand, hated the stream and was no good at it. The idea of doing a job as a data analyst or coder would keep me up at night out of fear,” she says.
She’d always been passionate about writing but never considered turning this ‘hobby’ into a career until she spoke to a career coach.
“The career coach made me and my parents realise that if not science, writing was something I could make money out of. He put together samples of my writing. He helped me make a plan to get trained as a writer through courses, and have certifications I could include in my resume.”
Nidhi soon got her first paid internship as a content writer, which converted into a full-time job within five weeks of her working there.
“My parents were skeptical at first, but were happy to see me working. I was happy and no longer anxious all the time. The tension and anger that had become full-time residents in our house went away immediately,” she says.
Talking to a good career coach can have a far-reaching impact on you, your career, and the people in your life. So, make sure you go to a good one.
Research, try to find coaches who have specialised in your field of interest, ask around for recommendations, look at online reviews, and talk to people they have worked with before deciding on a career coach for you.
The benefits of speaking with a good career coach are immense! So, get the help you need and deserve, and start out with a bang! Happy (career) journey!
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