For most of my professional life I have been a career counselor and coach. I spend countless hours guiding people through an intricate maze that includes their experiences, talents, skills and interests. The goal is to come up with job options that have the potential to be life-changing and satisfying. I have had many opportunities to educate and advise students, young professionals, seasoned workers and Baby Boomers on all areas of career development. On a personal level, I have benefited from learning about the highs and lows of their experiences and found a deep sense of pride inspiring clients to take initiative and risks that have unfolded into exciting new opportunity and positive change.
I love my work. A typical day for me entails listening to stories about someone’s life and career and pulling out the patterns and themes that will help a client. Perhaps the most important effect my work has is helping people achieve their aspirations and challenging them to write a new life chapter — one that has a hopeful sentence at the end.
Like any job, mine has its dramatic moments — especially when clients see me as a wizard who knows the answer to their life’s conundrum. I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that it’s better if I encourage clients to use their strength and wisdom to wave their own magic wand. My magic is helping clients discover that they have the power to choose their own destiny.
There is another challenging dimension to my work. That is to keep spirits up in a time when many people are discouraged by the economy and job market and worrying about the future. Often clients have done all the right things with nothing to show for their efforts. In the end, most of my clients have found new jobs but it has taken much longer than we both expected. It’s times like these that I feel a bit helpless and decidedly frustrated by the state of a current economy and political environment that allow for so much waste of energy, talent and skills.
Despite the inherent obstacles, I have had the privilege of working with clients who have achieved remarkable changes and others who have made less dramatic but equally satisfying transitions. A young lawyer who became a sports agent, a vice president of corporate communications who is now a nurse, and an accountant who freelances as a comic book writer are just a few examples of how people transform their careers. I have observed that when clients consider career fields or jobs that support a compelling interest, it increases the likelihood that they will find some level of work satisfaction.
Another plus in my work is the stimulating time I spend trying to understand the complexities of the job market, researching emerging new career fields and keeping up to date on current trends in the workplace. On a daily basis I peruse the Wall Street Journal, network with colleagues and delve into several online publications so I can help my clients generate realistic career and job options and ensure that they take advantage of the best resources.
I don’t believe a career is everything in life, but it offers us a chance to capitalize on our talents and abilities and to make a contribution to the world.
What is most rewarding to me about working with clients on career or job change is that not only have clients attained an important personal goal, but they have also strengthened their communication skills, increased their self awareness and renewed their self confidence. Perhaps it is naïve, but I genuinely believe that we all deserve a happy and satisfying work life. So I will continue to enjoy listening to each client’s unique story, hoping in the end that his or her dream comes true.