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How Timely Coaching Can Help Teens and Young Adults Design a Successful Future

Designing your future starts with defining what success means to you, what core ideals you are trying to hit, and why. Only then can you be comfortable that the one overriding goal you’re working towards will stand the test of time, grounded in the real you. With this clarity, it is possible to make confident […]

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Designing your future starts with defining what success means to you, what core ideals you are trying to hit, and why. Only then can you be comfortable that the one overriding goal you’re working towards will stand the test of time, grounded in the real you. With this clarity, it is possible to make confident life and career choices that you know will be sustainable and organic.  

To be sure that your path is based on your individual strengths and motivations means being clear about your values and your why, and coaching early in life can develop that focus. 

Living through the consequences of a choice that is not at the heart of who you are has an inevitable effect on emotional and mental wellbeing. As adults, I believe we have a collective responsibility to support the path for positive life outcomes for the youth in our community.

When young people are able to recognize in themselves the deeper motivations and values that drive their true intentions, they find the will to move forward with defining real options to explore. Only when there is real empathy towards themselves, can young people begin to put their motivations and values ahead of their thoughts and feel worthy enough to focus on what they truly want, need, and desire from a successful future.

There is nothing more heart-breaking than struggling through an academic course in which you have little to no interest and can’t see the value of, or feeling trapped in a work role that fails to excite you and from which you can’t see an escape route.

When I work with young people, it’s not just about establishing their career goals. The very first thing I do is get to the root of what truly motivates them, and why.  Having a strong why makes that their superpower, and helps them stay the course, through the toughest times on the journey.

What is the Role of a Career Coach?

The role of a coach is wide-ranging and varied, from purpose discovery to confidence building. However, one thing is clear – I am not here to tell my clients what to do. I’m there to help them explore what is right for them, by asking deeper questions, and to explore their responses; providing feedback and perspective in a safe environment. “Everyone needs a coach” – the opening words of Bill Gate’s Ted Talk on the subject of mentoring and coaching.

The time and energy teenagers and young adults dedicate to learning and where they focus their study efforts can have a profound and long-lasting impact on the opportunities that are opened up throughout their lives. That is to say, unless a chance encounter provides an alternative, they are held responsible for recognizing and seizing the opportunities to which they are exposed. What better time for them to know they have a coach to support the broadening of their perspectives, available as well as their cheerleader parents, both rooting for them?

When designing a future focus, using a design thinking mind-set, embodied in the ‘3 Es’, makes it easier to dive deeper into this essential self-awareness:

  • Empathy towards self
  • Expansive Thinking to consider more than just a narrow focus on what can be achieved
  • Experimentation to try out what may be possible, and see what fits.

This type of development empowers our youth to look beyond what they know, and help them always see how they can apply who they are, what they know and where they want to be to any opportunity that comes their way.

  1. How Can Career Coaching Help Teens?

Find clarity and build confidence

Career coaching provides clarity for teens, which, in turn, helps them to define both an academic path and a number of potential professional paths to achieving a set goal, and this in turn helps them to journey with confidence and resilience, regardless of the economic changes life may bring. In the end, it is a finer quality of life and personally defined success that makes us appreciate our achievements.

According to renowned psychologist and author Carl E. Pickhardt, the teen years are when they ‘must get used to functioning on a significantly expanded playing field of life experience than she or he encountered before.’ His survey shows: ‘The pursuit of self-discovery and facing constant unfamiliar territory at the height of teenage years causes a dip in confidence levels as young people become more worried about how they come across and express themselves in front of others (64%)’.

As they cement their own belief structure, teenagers are typically starting to understand how their views of the world fit into their new identity.  They are facing some ‘BIG’ questions, and have a lot on their mind as they start to form their own values and think about their purpose and their path.

Individual coaching with empathetic and certified professionals, who are experienced in working with teenagers, can provide a safe and secure space for them to gain a better understanding of who they are, and determine what they need out of a career path. Coaching can also help to identify and manage self-damaging ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, and provide tools to manage life, and instil teens with the confidence to pursue what they love doing, while knowing what they can achieve.

  • How Can Career Coaching Help Young Adults?

Set targets and build a roadmap to their future goal

Career coaching helps young adults link their education to their long-term goal, while setting a path for success.  

In the high school years, the focus tends to be on academic results, performance, and specialised skill development. Career discussion is often introduced in the last year of school, as part of the preparation for college or university applications, by which time their academic route may already be fixed. One of the most impactful and expensive decisions of their life could have been made without them even realising it.

Through coaching, students envision new possibilities, and understand the connection between what motivates them and practical career options based on their interests and strengths. It focuses on the present, and the discovery of possible futures, helping them to identify study streams and courses that would be relevant for their career path.


Where financially possible, parents often invest in their teenagers, with technical training for sport, lessons for arts development, and tutors for academic progress. Investment in emotional intelligence and self-awareness through formal career coaching is just as important, and I would go so far as to argue, more important.  Evidence shows that the resulting positive impact of increased resilience, confidence and goal clarity enhances performance across the board.

” The research literature is clear that one of the best indicators of young people’s capacity to understand and progress in the labour market is the extent to which their educational and occupational aspirations are aligned.”- OECD

Career choice has been consistently shown to be linked to quality of life.  According to the 2018 Gallup Wellbeing Survey, ‘workers who strongly agree that they use their strengths to do what they do best are substantially more likely to have high levels of wellbeing (i.e., to be “thriving”) across all five elements: career, social, financial, community and physical.’ 

  • How Can Career Coaching Help Graduates?

Craft Their Story and Accelerate Their Search

When graduating and entering the workforce, coaching helps graduates shape and hone their story, so they can land the best roles along their journey.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the employment rate in 2019 in the U.S was higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment: ‘For example, the employment rate was highest for 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s or higher degree (87 percent).’ 

While it’s true that college/university graduates are sought after, today’s job market is highly competitive, especially in these uncertain times. Getting that first graduate job is no easy feat, and breaking into the workforce can be tough with no or little work experience.

For a trainee medic or chemical engineer, a well-crafted application story can accelerate offers for industry placements, internships, and ultimately[MOU1] , jobs.; for more academically open graduates, with degrees such as history or English etc., coaching can help explore career options by providing focus and developing concrete plans.

Getting to know their own strengths and skills means graduates can quickly identify whether a job profile is a realistic option for them, and whether it matches their career goals. This means they waste less time applying for unsuitable roles, and save their energy for the ones that have the best chance of success.

Nailing your story provides clarity on where to focus search efforts, PLUS a memorable narrative that will capture the attention of hiring managers.  Many graduates concentrate on providing lists of achievements and qualifications, when they should be using the opportunity to create a snapshot of their personal drive, curiosity, and demonstrable passion. In the end, an employer wants either someone who can do the job and hit the ground running, or someone who can grow into the role quickly and shows ambition. My key piece of advice is always, “Don’t wait for the interview to showcase your personality, because you might never get there”. 

Coaching can also help prepare for interviews with confidence, from positive body language and tips on note taking to how to prepare for questions and showing their passion. To make sure your application form and covering letter are relevant means you must do your homework. To perform well in your interview means you need to show a real and genuine interest in the role and the company.

Following years of financial outlay throughout school and college / university, closing the loop with investment in career coaching at the graduate stage makes good business sense.

Summary

Lack of confidence is not realizing the strengths that you possess. Effective coaching at the right time can help teenagers, college students and graduates seize that knowledge and overcome the fears that are holding them back, or nudging them down a path that is not right for them.

Economies are cyclical, but what the current situation highlights is that there are many graduates trying to make their mark, and at the same time, there are many experienced professionals retiring late and staying in the workforce longer, and willing to take lower-paying roles to do so. This means that the next generation needs to think past old ideas and position themselves differently to get noticed and be given the chances they want.

I firmly believe that the more self-awareness they have, the more possible their goals will be, rooted in a realistic career path, and opening up a future they can trust is right for them.


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