Tell us about yourself.
My name is Lisa, I’m a 42 year old self employed Career Counsellor & Work-life Coach.
Many people don’t really understand what I do, but basically I help people with career related matters.
I help people who are unsure about career choice using a variety of career counselling strategies. I also help people who are already pursuing a career to address issues, develop a career progression plan, learn more about further education and training or change jobs.
Another part of my role is assisting people develop a CV, write applications and improve their job interview skills. My day can vary from helping someone prepare a CV, counselling someone who has lost their job due to the economic crisis, to interview coaching someone via Skype to prepare them for an upcoming job interview.
Why did you decide on this career?
The move into the career development sector evolved from gaining a project assistant role for a government funded youth career development program. Before that I had studied community services and had an idea to move into social work.
The more I worked with young people transitioning from school to work, the more I realized it was an area I was deeply passionate about. Without adequate career guidance and support, it was difficult for any young person to think about what kind of job they’d like to do once they leave school. I looked for specialized training and completed a Diploma of Career Guidance alongside a Bachelor of Social Science I was already completing where I majored in counselling and human services.
I think my counselling training provided a great foundation for my work as a career counsellor and coach because careers are not separate from people’s lives. Career is just one element of a complex myriad of elements that make up our lives so it’s impossible to work on career in isolation from someone’s life. After graduating from my undergraduate degree, I went on to complete a Master of Career Development which has better equipped me to integrate career development theory into everyday practice.
What are your 3 favorite things about it?
Helping people. I always knew I wanted to work in a job where I could help people.
Seeing people grow and develop a greater self-awareness through the career counselling and coaching process. It’s rewarding to see people find their own answers to their questions as a result of our work together. It really gives me a buzz.
Flexibility. I love the freedom of working for myself because I am not constrained by targets or program guidelines.
What are the 2 or 3 least favorite things about it?
Being self-employed has its drawbacks. Not having colleagues close at hand to bounce ideas off or discuss emerging issues is highly beneficial. Working alone can be very isolating but I overcome this by dedicating time each week to connect with others via the many professional networks I am part of.
At times, I think it would be nice to work for someone and not have the responsibility of marketing and attracting clients to my private practice. It would be nice to show up, do my work and leave at the end of the day rather than working the erratic and extended hours I do now. Unfortunately, the career development field is a very specialized one. Options for employment are mostly limited to government funded career development programs, high schools, higher education (e.g. universities and colleges) or joining an established career development practice as a partner.
Have you ever changed your career? If so: why?
I used to be a youth worker employed by a local council to deliver a youth activities program which engaged troubled youth to combat anti-social behavior. I worked in low-income neighborhoods with young people from a range of ethnic backgrounds. It was extremely rewarding and remarkable to see the transformation of the young people we worked with some of whom were in gangs going nowhere fast but to juvenile detention.
Moving into youth career development happened by chance but I was very interested in the program when I first learned about it. Instead of working with extremely high risk youth, I began working with young people at risk of leaving school and those who had recently left school. I would visit my allocated high schools each week to work with those young people who met the program criteria. Rather than running recreational youth activities as I had previously, the program focused on career development helping young people achieve education, training or employment outcomes. We also ran regular workshops and career days to help young people learn about careers and develop job search skills.
Who is the most interesting person you have met in your life?
What makes this person interesting for you?
I find everyone interesting. The difference is whether or not people are able to articulate their own stories, thoughts and feelings in an interesting way. I have a family member who can tell you a story about how he went shopping at the grocery store and have you completely hanging on every word because of how he tells the story. People like that excite me. They are fascinating and so completely engaging.
How do you relax after a hard day?
Like many people, after a hard day I love nothing more than to retreat to my home, put on something comfy and snuggle up on the sofa.
What or who helps you when you are feeling really down?
When I feel really down I remind myself that it’s not the first time and that I’ve managed to get through those feelings before. I like to focus on the positive things in my life and what I do have rather than what I don’t. Just when you think you have so little, you realize you have so much. I don’t mean possessions – I mean loved ones, family and friends.
If you could be someone else (for a day or week??), who or what would you choose?
It would be interesting to see what a day is like for someone like Oprah Winfrey. It seems celebrities like her live a double life where they have one persona for the public and another for their own world. I’d like to learn more about her life behind closed doors because I think that’s where you really get to know people.
What do you think, makes you strong?
Resilience. From a very young age I had to learn to be resilient. It’s the greatest tool I have to cope with the world. I’m very grateful for it.
Do you have a motto?
“The people on top of the mountain didn’t just fall there.”
I love that saying because it’s so true. Whatever you want in life you have to work towards. Whether it be feeling more confident in social situations, a better job, a relationship or to own your own home. Effort equals results. Even though it might take you time to achieve your goals, if you set goals and work steadily towards them, you’ll get there in the end.
Which book, movie or music would you recommend to our readers?
I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love. I was moved by her story and inspired by her sense of adventure.
You have to leave to an island and can take five items with you.
Which items would that be and why?
My husband, some fruit and vegetable seeds, fishing tackle, a good wok and some warm clothes (you didn’t say where the island was it might get cold!).
What do you first spot when meeting another person?
Their soul. I can usually tell from the first time I meet someone if they have a gentle soul or not.
Do you have a secret talent?
Not that I’ve discovered yet!
Do you have a website you would like me to promote?
Picture by channah.
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