How to Coach Young Professionals to Plan for a Career, Not Just a Job

Real NimblyWise Journey: Lars, Microsoft

At NimblyWise, one of our priorities is partnering with like-minded organizations who are dedicated to pioneering a new era of professional training and coaching. Recently, Mike Sweet, Founder and CEO of NimblyWise, was honored to join Norma Rey-Alicea, Founding Director of NextGen Talent, for a Coaching 101 Workshop to support professional coaches and managers on how to best coach young professionals to pursue a career—not just land a job.

NextGen Talent’s mission is to provide low-income students, students of color, and first-generation college-goers access to tactical career development tools and networking that will help them generate sustainable, fulfilling careers with greater opportunity. Norma Rey-Alicea has dedicated her life to closing the opportunity gap for low-income students of all backgrounds, with a career at organizations like Jobs for the Future, and the Hispanic Office of Planning and Evaluation (HOPE) prior to starting NextGen Talent. She holds an MPP from Harvard Kennedy School and a BA in Government from Harvard University.

While Norma shared many words of wisdom during the workshop, there was one section we truly thought needed to be shared with our audience—how to coach young professionals to plan for a career, not just a job. One thing that isn’t taught very often to younger generations is the difference between a career and a job. A job is something you do to just pay the bills, whereas a career is more about skill-building, long-term goals and achievements, stability, growth, and personal fulfillment. These are the tips Norma shared to encourage young talent to strive for more. These useful strategies can be used by both individual coaches and companies looking to grow their young talent:

Support Long-Term Vision & Strategy

Often in interviews, young professionals will be asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” But in many cases, they haven’t been taught how to design that long-term vision and are stumped. To plan for a career, you must inventory your strengths and weaknesses, think about what brings you joy and what you truly dislike, as well as imagine what you envision for your personal life and how your professional goals can support that vision.

That’s where the foundation of successful career building strategy should start!

Encourage Them to Follow Their Own Path

When young professionals enter college, most have just barely entered adulthood. Yet, they are challenged to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives when choosing a major to pursue. This leads many to choose paths their parents have encouraged them to follow or one they believe is culturally appropriate. For example, sons with fathers in the military are 5x more likely to enlist and 25% of twins share the same occupation. Inspire young professionals to choose their own path, consider what interests them, and not let third parties influence their decisions.

Teach Them How to Design a Positive Personal Brand

Many young professionals may not consider how something they share online can impact their career long-term. But today, social media checks are even more common than background checks. A recent survey found that over 90% of employers will check a candidate’s social media prior to making a hire and 76% didn’t offer a job to a candidate based upon what they found. Your personal brand is the persona you put out online and in-person. It needs to be cohesive, professional, and you need to stand behind what you put out online, as it will affect you for years to come and give employers a taste of who you really are!

Bring Them Back to Reality, Without Discouraging Dreaming

From the moment a child is young, we tell them they can be whatever they want to be. Which is true—but only if they work for it. In an age where this new generation has been awarded participation trophies their entire lives, it can be easy for them to dream big, without realizing how much work actually goes into achieving that big dream. Norma shared a great personal example during the workshop. She explained how her son always wanted to join the NFL. Rather than saying, “Of course you can do it honey!” which would have likely led to blind confidence, she showed him the statistics on what percentage of players who made it to the NFL. Not to discourage him, she encouraged him to chase that goal during the same conversation, but to emphasize what it really takes to get there and what the odds are. Because considering the reality of goals and career dreams is as important as chasing them!

Don’t Tell Them to Chase Their Passions

Now, this one sounds harsh, but it’s not meant to be. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban once shared on his blog, “’Follow Your Passion’ is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.” He explained that many people have multiple passions, but it’s not the passion that makes you successful. What makes you successful is commitment, effort, time management, and dedication. He followed up that statement with, “Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”

Passions can change and making a passion into a career ultimately may lead to the destruction of that passion once it’s turned into a necessity rather than a hobby. Encourage them to find something that interests them, work hard to become good at it, and design a path that will lead them to the top from that foundation.

NimblyWise Coaches Embrace All These Principles & More

Whether you’re a business trying to help your young professional team members grow to be your future leaders, an individual taking your personal and professional development into your own hands, or a university trying to help your students plan for a successful future—our NimblyWise programs can help.

Our seasoned, professional coaches are hand-selected for their expertise in not only coaching, but real-life business experiences, which they then implement for their personalized coaching strategies for each participant. If you want to learn more about how our NimblyWise coaches play an integral part in our Real-Time Learning programs that help young professionals accelerate their career and personal development, let’s chat.