All of Weston Career Center’s 20 coaches embarked on a rigorous 30-hour training program this summer designed to empower our students and alums to reach their highest career potential.
“The accredited coaching training provided our team with the toolkit needed to partner with students and alums at any point in their career journey,” said Jen Whitten, the WCC’s associate dean and director. “All of our coaches have rich backgrounds and experiences, plus knowledge in core coaching strategies.”
Every coach earned the designation of Certified MBA Career Coach/Certified University Career Coach. The WCC is now one of fewer than 10 programs globally to provide its entire team with this level of training.
The team embarked on training led by The Academies, where coaches had an opportunity to practice new skills through the online coaching sessions and, between training sessions, to pair up to practice on a biweekly basis.
Each coach committed to a demanding five-month training program that included diving into professional coaching competencies founded in neuroscience research coupled with career management strategies. The team had weekly classes and daily homework while actively implementing these skills in their daily coaching appointments and reporting insights each week. Not only did they need to practice, but also each coach was required to reflect on their coaching while also receiving feedback from our instructors multiple times.
A focus on student empowerment
A job and internship search can be stressful, so it was important the team know how to best support our students and alumni. A crucial part of our learning was recognizing and helping the student who is in the red zone (emotionally “hot”) get to the blue zone (emotionally “available”), where they can think more clearly. Overall, the course helped coaches focus less on giving advice and more on student empowerment.
The coaches were trained to ask powerful, open, empowered-future questions (e.g., “What do you think would motivate someone to say yes to your request?”), helping students to be curious, to make connections on their own, and to own the idea they have come up with.
They learned to avoid closed questions, giving advice slipped into a question itself, and leading students to a particular answer.
“This training provided me with a coaching structure and strategy which has elevated my conversations with students in an incredibly meaningful way,” said Karissa Rusu, career coach for students in Olin’s specialized master’s programs. “I have noticed that students are walking away from an appointment with a specific action step and greater confidence in their own skills and abilities.”
Propelling forward the job search
Amy Johnson, a career coach for Olin’s BSBA students, noticed a renewed focus on the development of students’ career search skills throughout the self, story, strategy and journey model.
“The result is further student empowerment to propel their job search forward in the days and weeks that follow,” she said.
Susan Britton, founder and president of The Academies, said she was impressed with the group’s willingness to be vulnerable and with the solid questions they brought to each lesson about the process. She also remarked on their determination to participate, think strategically and remain highly engaged.
“The coaches were willing to take risks,” she said. “They recognized the change management taking place and still had an eye on the big picture.”
Eight core competencies
The International Coaching Federation has defined eight core competencies taught throughout the training:
- Demonstrates ethical practice
- Embodies a coaching mindset
- Establishes and maintains agreements
- Cultivates trust and safety
- Maintains presence
- Listens actively
- Evokes awareness
- Facilitates client growth
Pictured above, WCC career coaches from left to right, starting at the top row: Lenore Albee, Nan Barnes, Janelle Brooks, Taylor Burns, Chris Collier, Don Halpin, Mary Houlihan, Chesley Hundley, Meg Hunt, Amy Johnson, Christine Keller, Danny Kim, Jennifer Krupp, Anne Petersen, Sally Pinckard, Karissa Rusu, Mark Schlafly, Molly Sonderman, Molly Thompson and Jennifer Whitten.