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Three Ways To Build An Army of Career Coaches: Our Reflections During National Mentoring Month

Updated: May 14

Sharon Givens headshot.

Co-Author

Dr. Sharon Givens, Career Coach Trainer & Board Member

Coalition for Career Development Center



Eva Mitchell headshot.

Co-Author

Eva Mitchell, CEO

Coalition for Career Development Center



Throughout January, National Mentoring Month commands our attention. It is a time to celebrate the power of supportive and meaningful mentor relationships and honor those who are invested in the future of our nation’s youth. Mentors are invaluable, and anyone at any age can benefit from their encouragement, advocacy, and guidance. 

Why? Because those who have career-focused conversations are TWICE as likely to complete a degree program (and earn higher salaries), because youth who have a mentor are 75% more likely to have a leadership position in a club or on sports team and 22% more likely to experience a strong sense of belonging while growing up, and because 74% of adults credit the mentors they had as youth with contributing significantly to their success later in life. (Explore MENTOR’s research for more data.) 

 

Who can be a mentor? Mentors can be any person who talks with you about your personal and professional goals, plans, and aspirations. Mentors can be someone from your family, school, work, community or religious program, or from another part of your network. Mentoring relationships often continue for years or even decades.

When we consider mentoring for career development, the role of a career coach comes to mind. A coach helps with something specific and the relationship is short-term, ending when you meet your goal or master a skill. Career coaching is in high-demand, yet typically reserved for the privileged few who hover in and around the C-Suite. 

 

To bring career coaching to ALL, we must build an army of career coaches.

At the Coalition for Career Development (CCD) Center, we believe that mentors are the key to building an army of career coaches dedicated to protecting the democracy of opportunity. Mentors intimately understand the lived experience of those with whom they work. They are natural connectors, motivators, guides, and supporters. We are on a mission to equip them with the tools, techniques, and practices of professional career coaches to support those they already serve in developing and refining their next steps toward high-quality, meaningful career pathways and economic and social mobility. 

Here are three ways to build an army of career coaches available and accessible to ALL.

(1) Invest in Having Meaningful and Personalized Conversations

A meaningful and personalized conversation is a simple career planning activity readily available to our army of career coaches. Research shows that engaging in meaningful career conversations in high school are associated with higher postsecondary engagement. Further, having meaningful career conversations as early as middle school are associated with higher future wage earnings—wage earning effects doubled for young adults from historically underrepresented backgrounds and for those with disabilities.

As we know, education and industry are inextricably linked; we must prioritize career planning while youth are still in school to prepare our young adults to enter and thrive in high-demand, high-wage occupational pathways. 

(2) Increase Awareness of and Access to Career Services Professionals

In addition to career planning activities, all learners benefit from having a professional career advisor on their team. Too few have access to career advisors. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of 250 students per school counselor. For the 2021-2022 school year, the national average was 408-to-1, almost double the ASCA’s recommendation. As we show in our 2022 Condition of Career Readiness report, 28 states achieved the recommended standard for high school youth, while for elementary and middle school youth, only 2 states did.

Career mentors are best prepared by degree or certification programs. The National Career Development Association (NCDA) provides these opportunities, as well as “professional development, publications, standards, and advocacy for practitioners and educators who inspire and empower individuals to achieve their career and life goals.”  

Armed with tools, our army of career coaches are poised to ensure all learners and their families are aware of career services professionals and their value-add to career readiness for youth and young adults.

(3) Partner with Existing Community-Based Organizations 

Nearly 9 in 10 people feel that more mentoring is needed in our country. Recruiting from a pool of conventional—yet deeply passionate—community leaders, these mentors currently work in highly effective nonprofits and agencies that are deeply connected to their communities, trusted by their clients, and provide much-needed wrap-around services. They can play a crucial role in motivating and supporting youth, young adults, and adults in their career development. 

It’s time to invest in a national movement to build an army of career coaches. With generous funding from the Liberty Mutual Foundation, we are launching the first battalion of career coaches in Boston, MA. Using a “walk-right-into-this-role” approach coupled with an accessible network of support, the CCD Center and its community-based partners will transform the capacity of these professionals and leverage their existing roles to ensure ALL learners have access to high-quality career coaching. 

 

Are you based in Boston? Interested in cultivating a deep understanding of pathways to social and economic mobility in those you already serve? Contact Eva Mitchell to learn about opportunities to join our first battalion.

 

Prioritizing career planning and providing professional career advising are the first two pillars of our five pillar approach to making career readiness the first priority of American education. We need everyone on board to build an army of career coaches—strong, like-minded community leaders who are prepared and trained to empower our youth and young adults to thrive in high-demand, high-wage occupations and achieve economic and social mobility.


Amplify the mentoring movement! Visit CCD-Center.org/Mentoring to get involved.


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