As Career Services professionals we do a lot!
Advising students, managing employers and planning events are all part of our day to day working lives. Starting off in this functional area can be a lot to grasp, but like any job, once you get adjusted it’s smooth sailing.
After reflecting on my first year in Career Services, I have four lessons I’d like to share.
Lesson 1: Find your niche and use it to develop your coaching voice/style
Anyone who is new to career advising needs to develop a coaching voice. We all bring diverse backgrounds to work, and with that comes diverse experiences. Those experiences are critical to developing a coaching voice that is unique and authentic to who you are.
I found my coaching voice quickly because I identified my niche. I am the youngest in my department and I used that to develop my coaching style. Being closer in age to students allows me to use my recent failures, successes and current events to relate quickly. That niche helped me more than almost anything to be successful during my first year. Whatever your niche is, find it and use it to develop your coaching voice.
Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to offer your opinion
I started my role in May 2016 with no prior experience in career services. In staff meetings I was very observant for about the first six months, which was fine until people started to notice that I wasn’t speaking up. After a while, my supervisor addressed this and asked why I didn’t talk much. Part of that was because I am a naturally quiet person, but mainly I just lacked the confidence in my own experience. My supervisor challenged me to bring more of my opinions to the table during meetings – so I did. I began to realize I knew more about career services than I thought and started to actively contribute to our team. Always be open to providing your insights, even if you are new.
Lesson 3: Use the human capital around you
We all work on high functioning teams and with students that are going to do remarkable things in life. When I first started in career services, I recognized the people around me were great at their jobs. I leaned on these individuals to help get me acclimated. You will get better at your job by asking to observe student appointments, studying other coaches, seeking tips on how to improve employer relationships, and understanding what is successful for others in your office. When you’re meeting with top students, try to learn about what type of work they are doing, how they got into their positions, and what advice they utilized from their former career advisor. This will help with learning more about the overall student population. These are things that can help you get better at your job and create strong relationships with co-workers and students.
Lesson 4: Continuously develop as a professional
As career services professionals, we make sure students are professionally developed. Every day we offer coaching advice to students on how they can be professionals in the workplace; we are passionate and love doing it. There is a caveat, though. We must also put that same energy and passion into ourselves and develop our professional skills. Taking a class, learning a new innovative technology, presenting at conferences are all ways that you can start to help yourself develop your professional skills. Professional development is key and makes people better career services professionals. For me, that was a key lesson that helped me through my first year.
Year one taught me a lot and taught me to love Career Services. It’s been amazing, and these are only a few of the lessons that I have learned! Hopefully my lessons will help others in the future. I’d love to hear from others, so please leave a comment on what you have learned from your role in Career Services or Student Affairs!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org