Are career coaches effective?
In December 2013, I completed my first year at the nursing school, I still had more than one and a half years to complete my course as a comprehensive nurse. I joined the nursing school with the passion and purpose to contribute to healthcare in my home town of Kabale and truly grow to make a difference. Being a nurse and helping people was always my childhood dream.
A few months before this, I met and started to work with Brian. As an experienced professional from the IT world, working in health centers all over south western Uganda, I found him to be a fascinating example. So I reached out to him, initially for guidance and support in how I could use my background and skills to strengthen the health service of children and adolescents in the community. As I prepared for school I got my first paid volunteer opportunity – as any first job, I was clueless about work and Brian soon became a source of guidance for how to behave in the workplace. I have continued to work with Brian as a career coach throughout my years of service as a health worker.
I continued to serve at Kabale Regional Referral Hospital, and as a volunteer in my community. But as life grew around me, I had to leave, continue some of my school and work in Kampala and unfortunately midway 2019, i found myself without a job. I reconnected with my career coach, to bounce off ideas for work and soon discovered that what started as a passion for him, had grown into what we now know to be the Kampala Leadership Hub. I know that I had to stick around longer to retrace my path and most importantly get back into gainful employment.
Today I work as a management associate at the Kampala Leadership Hub, and I would like to share with you some insights about the value of Career Coaches. I hope my experience will encourage you to seek out one of the many career coaches in the city.
What was the most difficult part of changing careers?
The most difficult part of changing careers was maintaining a positive and confident perspective. I think it’s very easy for people to get bogged down in the idea that they have somehow “failed” at their first career, and wrapped up in the fear of the unknown when in reality it is an opportunity to leverage all their experience and strengths into their next career. My coach helped me navigate this conflict internally and I was able to realize that my value is not set in a title, but in how I contribute meaningfully to everything my hands find to do.
What helped me move forward through this?
I was not always a planner and a list maker, so with the help of my mentor who is also a career coach I have had a structured and measurable approach to finding a new career by doing the work in my program specifically by identifying strengths, crafting a personal statement, envisioning my dream of helping people. All of these things really empowered me and made me feel like I was building towards something every day. It gave me a goal and a method to achieve it.
What advice would I give to someone in a similar situation?
Leaving any profession after several years is particularly daunting because suddenly one has many choices to ponder unlike before. What do I want to do? When you change towns, you also have to consider Where you will live and who will be part of your new network. Even figuring out what I wanted to wear after putting on a nurse’s uniform for so long felt overwhelming. My advice to someone in this position is to take this opportunity to really look inward and find what you want to do, where you want to be in 5, 10 years, and use that as a North Star. Your purpose is not necessarily tied to your job. In fact it is likely that you will not find your dream job right out of the gate, but if you know what experiences you want to be a part of in life, you can easily place yourself on a heading to get there someday.
Is there anything I wish I had done differently?
I wish I had been a little bolder in my networking. I applied to lots of jobs online and physically, but I never really knew how to nurture my network. Ultimately I got the job I have now through that vulnerable face-to-face interaction with the Hub. These great connections and networking opportunities had been under my nose the whole time, but I was too entrenched in the idea that networking was “awkward” to pursue them. It’s not as awkward as you think, trust me!
Is anything much better than I could have imagined?
I was definitely concerned that my nursing specific skills would not transfer easily to my new job, and that I would struggle to adjust. In reality, the adjustment has been much easier than I anticipated. Moreover, I am working to serve people with a new set of tools – tools for personal development, as I support the Leadership Hub to nurture, grow and develop #bettermanagers
Yes, a career coach is a valuable resource. I hope you have one in your network.