Coaching case study
Why did you choose me?
I looked at a number of coaches online, and narrowed my selection down to those who worked in London and looked to have some experience of working with younger people – especially people who were career changing in their late 20s/early 30s. I was also looking for people who worked in the public or third sector. I spoke to four coaches, and I was just trying to get a feel for fit.
One of the things that made a big impact on me at this stage was the idea that we could meet in a cafe or pub. It felt like that would be neutral ground, that there would be less pressure on the situation (compared to being across a table in a rented room) and that it would lead to a more casual relationship.
I thought that you understood and could sympathise with the situation I was in, and I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time explaining my current position and why it was frustrating. I also liked the sound of the balance that you struck between diagnostic tools, open questioning and homework. Following the conversation we had, I was also very interested in the experience you had of working with VSO as I felt that international development or charity work was something I’d be interested in exploring.
How were you feeling before our coaching started?
Before we started the coaching sessions, I was working as a maths teacher. I had handed in my resignation after four years and I was looking for a change of career, but without any solid idea of where my skills would be most useful or what I would most enjoy.
I had decided to leave because I was feeling very fed up with some elements of my teaching job and I had determined that these were not limited to that job at that school, but were more systemic. I wanted to start working towards something that would make me happier and would align with my (modest!) long-term goals.
I was looking to explore different options, have my eyes opened to possible avenues that I hadn’t considered and establish what I was looking for in a new career. I wanted all of this to feed into a road map for the next five(ish) years and ideally end up starting a new job.
What did we focus on in our coaching?
We started by setting some objectives and defining what constituted success, then establishing how close I was to those goals. We kept returning to these at the end of every session to measure progress and so that these were the focus of all of the work.
At the outset, we worked on two paths – identifying skills, attributes and strengths on one hand, and looking at what was ‘out there’ that I might find interesting on the other. This was particularly effective, because it meant that while I was noticing that I was attracted to or put off certain roles, I could start to identify what it was about my character or about the role that was not a good fit. Thought exercises in which I would imagine my life in a certain job or place were really helpful as I started to deepen my understanding of what kinds of tasks I get real satisfaction from.
Which aspects were the most effective?
Your encouragement to reflect on observations was especially effective. While I sometimes felt put on the spot, it was never anxiety-inducing, and I felt pushed without feeling stressed. The exercises that you gave me were a great jumping off point for conversations with friends and relatives, and I found these conversations very helpful. I enjoyed discussing these with you afterwards in sessions and this meant I got even more out of them.
I have always found you very observant and your tone is always appropriate to the mood and the moment. It meant that even after a tough day at work, or when I wasn’t really in the mood, we had productive sessions which I came away from feeling energised to take the next steps.
Where are you now?
I’ve now moved out of London and back to my hometown of Oxford where I’ve started a job at a strategy consultancy. I’m enjoying all the extra time in my life and filling it with things I enjoy – dancing, running, reading and catching up with friends.
Starting out in this new career is exciting. There is a lot to learn, and all of my previous experience isn’t directly relevant, so one of the challenges at the moment is to make connections between new things that I’m learning and things that I am already competent in. It’s not always easy, but it feels like I’m moving in the right direction now, so I’m very happy.
What would you recommend about my coaching?
I found coaching with you particularly useful for examining the hierarchy of my own priorities for a career. This process meant I considered roles I had previously rejected (on grounds of morality, location or expectations about the type of work I’d be doing).
I enjoyed working with you and I felt that you were easy to talk to and totally non-judgemental. I have really enjoyed our time working together and I look forward to catching up in the future to help determine the next step(s) along the journey!