5 Reasons to Work with a Columbia Career Coach

The Columbia Career Coaches Network is a group of seasoned career professionals—and they're also your fellow alumni. Here, they weigh in on why it's incredibly valuable to work with a coach to better your career. 


1. Navigating your career can be overwhelming.

Julia Harris Wexler '83TC, '14BUS said she is often approached by alumni at a point in their careers when they are considering shifting from a previous path into a new, unfamiliar one. 

"This can be overwhelming, since they are no longer junior professionals, and have much to lose (or gain) by taking this next step," she said. "The stakes are high, and they understand the importance of seeking coaching from a career expert."

"If you're feeling stuck, working with a career coach can give you accountability, support, and structure to achieve your goals—whether that's finding a new job or creating more joy in the one you have," Melody Wilding '11SW added. "The right person can empower you to take action and overcome setbacks in an overwhelming process." 

"[Working with a career coach] can help avoid an emotional roller coaster by steering the client away from opportunities that are unlikely to produce a positive outcome and help streamline their job search," Debra Feldman '74PH said, adding that this spares the client from being overwhelmed and helps set the correct priorities.  

2. Coaches are neutral and approach your career challenge without bias or agenda. 

"People work with a coach instead of family and friends because a coach holds the client's interests first and foremost—family and friends sometimes have their own agenda," Kris Ishibashi '78BC, '82BUS said, adding that sometimes people wonder why they should pay for a service they believe they can get for free talking to people they know. 

"When you sign a contract with a coach, you're making a commitment both morally and financially to move yourself forward in a prescribed amount of time," she said. "This often gives clients the push to devote sufficient energy to the process to generate results."

Lynn Berger '84, '90TC said working with a coach allows alumni "to experience a professional guided self-exploration of your skills, interests, values, and priorities and set actionable goals in sync with your aspirations."

"[Coaching] requires an objective professional who walks that line between credibility, trust, and honest feedback," Wexler added. "Only a coach can serve as that professional who is under contract to tell it like it is—and who is also completely on your team."

"Thinking of things that the client might not otherwise have thought of is a big part of the value of coaching," Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC said. "A coach brings an outside perspective, another set of eyes on a problem, and another set of ears to really hear what a client is saying. Sometimes that active listening picks up a client's gut reaction that s/he otherwise quiets down or a client's true interest. A coach helps you get unstuck because they bring another way of thinking through the issues."


3. Working with a coach is valuable during all stages and all aspects of your career.  

"[There is] a need for a strategic sounding board to navigate career challenges, like performance reviews, promotions, compensation, professional growth, leadership development," said Buddy Moran '86BUS.

"You gain resilience and perspective by understanding and distinguishing temporary setbacks versus major areas for improvement," Judy Liu '96BC, '98PH said.


4. Coaches have insider knowledge and an extensive network. 

"[When working with a career coach], you obtain inside industry expertise and insights in what it takes to be successful and access to a broader network of professionals," Liu explained.

"Coaching is necessary within the current market," Wexler added. "The competitive landscape dictates that those who are on their game get the top offers; those who aren't take much longer to ascend in their careers."

5. A coach will help you learn more about yourself.

"Coaches can help provide them with a perspective or a mindset that can help individuals transition to their role, career… that they would not be able to shift on their own," Rochelle Cooper '84BC, '89TC said. "It’s often about helping them think about themselves in a new or different way or think about how others see them and take on a more senior or different brand.

"[Working with a coach] means finding ways of identifying your unique skills and talents, clarifying and quantifying your strengths and skills for multiple possibilities," Kevin McCarthy '85CC, '91GSAS said. "Coaches empower you to develop a mantra of success in your steps to achieving your goals, help build self confidence and greater satisfaction in your work and life balance." 


Learn more about all of the Columbia Career Coaches Network members, and find a coach here.

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