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Q&A With Industry-Leading Career Coach

Dr. J. Victor McGuire
In anticipation of ACT’s upcoming My Journey: Connections webinar for high school students and their families, What Every Student Should Know About Picking a Major or Career Path, we asked the featured speaker Dr. J. Victor McGuire, founder and executive director of Coaching for Everyone, to answer some pressing questions about college and career coaching. Read on to learn about the importance of timing and perspective in career planning, emerging job market opportunities and trends, and tailoring coaching to students’ strengths and aspirations. Then, join us Feb. 16 to discover more tips, tools, and insights for guiding students’ college and career journey.

At what point should students begin thinking about planning for a career, and why is it important to consider career coaching before entering the workforce, rather than after? To that end, how can professionals ensure they reach students who need coaching at the opportune time?

I typically share with students that they should begin thinking about planning for a career during their high school years, as this allows them ample time to explore different options and gain the necessary skills and qualifications before entering the workforce. Why not consider career coaching before entering the workforce because it can help students to make informed decisions about their future, identify and develop their strengths and interests, and gain a competitive edge moving forward?

To reach students at an opportune time, professionals can work with high schools and universities to offer career coaching and counseling services, host informational sessions and workshops, and develop online resources and tools for students to access. Additionally, professionals can reach out to students directly by participating in career fairs and mentoring programs, and offering internship opportunities.

Why do you encourage students to plan for their career choice as a journey rather than a linear path?

Encouraging students to view their career choice as a journey rather than a linear path acknowledges that career paths are often unpredictable and can change over time. It also allows for the recognition that individuals may have multiple careers or change direction mid-career. It is important for students to know this is a process, not an event!

Thinking of career planning as a journey allows students to approach the process with a growth mindset, where they are open to new experiences and opportunities, and can adapt and evolve as they gain new skills and knowledge. It also allows them to be more flexible and resilient in the face of unexpected changes or challenges in the job market.

Additionally, viewing a career as a journey encourages students to continuously reflect on their personal and professional development, set goals, and seek out experiences and opportunities that align with their interests and values. This approach allows students to be proactive in their career development, rather than waiting for a specific job or opportunity to come to them.

You left home at age 11 and have walked a unique path to career success, with stops as a teacher, author, nonprofit creator, and entrepreneur. How can coaches help students with many skills and interests best chart their course toward a major and career?
  • Assess their strengths and interests. A coach can help students identify their unique strengths and interests through assessments, exercises, and discussions. This can help students understand what they are naturally good at and what they enjoy doing.
  • Explore different career options. A coach can help students explore a wide range of career options that align with their strengths and interests. This can include researching different industries, job titles, and companies.
  • Identify transferable skills. A coach can help students identify the transferable skills, such as leadership, problem-solving, and communication, that they have developed through their experiences. This can help students understand how their skills and experiences can be applied to different careers.
  • Set realistic and meaningful goals. A coach can help students set realistic and meaningful goals for their career and education. This can include identifying specific steps and resources needed to achieve those goals.
  • Develop an action plan. A coach can help students develop an action plan to achieve their goals, including identifying the steps they need to take and the resources they need to access.
  • Create networking opportunities. A coach can assist the student in networking opportunities, by connecting them with alumni and professionals in their field of interest, and by attending events and fairs.
  • Provide ongoing support. A coach can provide ongoing support and guidance as the student progresses through their education and career. This can include helping them to navigate challenges and opportunities and providing feedback and encouragement.
Today’s job market is quickly evolving. What are some emerging opportunities and trends that college and career coaches should make students aware of?
  • Technology: The demand for technology-related jobs, such as data analysis, cybersecurity, and software development, is increasing as more and more companies adopt digital technologies.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare industry is expected to continue growing, with opportunities in fields such as nursing, medical coding, and medical billing.
  • Sustainability: As climate change and environmental issues become more pressing, there is a growing need for professionals in fields related to sustainability, such as renewable energy, environmental engineering, and sustainable agriculture.
  • Remote work: Remote work has become more prevalent because of the pandemic, and it is expected to continue to be an option for many jobs in the future.
  • Entrepreneurship: With the rise of the gig economy and the ability to start a business from anywhere, entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly viable career option for many students.
  • Interdisciplinary skills: The job market is increasingly requiring skills that span across different fields, such as the ability to work with data, understand digital technologies, and work in cross-functional teams.
How does career coaching differ for high school students who plan to go to college versus the increasingly large numbers of those immediately entering the workforce?

Career coaching for high school students who plan to go to college typically focuses on helping them explore potential career paths and college majors, coupled with developing skills that will be valuable in their chosen field. This might include guidance on selecting the right college or university, identifying internships and other opportunities to gain experience, and making connections with professionals in the field.

On the other hand, career coaching for those who are immediately entering the workforce typically focuses on helping them identify job opportunities, create resumes and cover letters, and prepare for job interviews. This might include assistance with identifying transferable skills, networking, and understanding the job market. Additionally, career coaching for young adults who are entering the workforce may focus on building professional skills, such as time management, teamwork, and communication, that are relevant to the specific job market they are entering. The coach may also help them to set realistic career goals and develop an action plan to achieve them.

Dr. J. Victor McGuire is founder and executive director of Coaching for Everyone, a nonprofit organization whose two missions are to offer complimentary coaching and leadership support to traditionally underserved and under-resourced Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations, and to offer coaching fellowships to working BIPOC professionals interested in becoming a certified coach.

Additional links:

Register for the webinar with Dr. McGuire, What Every Student Should Know About Picking a Major or Career Path.

Download the recorded sessions from last fall’s My Journey college and career planning event.

Access ACT’s college and career planning resources.