I’m so excited to announce that series 2 of my Career Inspiration series is here. The aim of these interviews is to help those of you looking for career ideas, a career change or simply an insight into what others do.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always enjoyed finding out about what others do and the journey they took to get there. I hope you enjoy today’s interview with Jane, a Visual Career Coach.
What did you study at university and why?
History of Art. I was doing an art foundation course and didn’t get a place on the textile art course I was really keen on, so for some reason I decided that I would take the ‘sensible route’ and do Art History! It seemed to make sense at the time but I’d go back and do a Fine Art course if I could do it all over again!
When did you realise you wanted to be a Visual Career Coach?
Being a coach isn’t really something I realised I wanted to be. I was doing a part-time voluntary learning and development internship at Oxfam one day a week, alongside my admin job, and they had an internal coaching scheme. They said that I would make a good coach (I’d done a lot of soft skills training delivery and some counselling training before), so they got me a charity discount on their coach training scheme. I paid for it myself, loved it and have been building my business part-time ever since.
You have a lot of freedom to choose who you coach once you have a qualification, and I chose to specialise in career coaching as I love helping people to find ways to be happier and have more direction at work. I have also had 35 jobs myself so I have a lot of experience in changing careers, applying for and moving jobs, and in lots of different sectors.
In terms of a visual coaching – it is something completely new I have developed myself. I found a way to combine the fact I am an artist with my coaching and pretty much invented my unique form of coaching. It gives people a really deep and reflective experience.
Please tell us about the training route to becoming a Visual Career Coach.
There are lots of coaching qualifications around. I did a 3 month long intensive coaching programme, which qualified me to coach, but then I spent a couple of years building up my coaching hours, having mentoring and doing some more training hours in order to become an accredited coach through the International Coaching Federation.
Please tell us about your current role.
I am a part-time career coach – so I coach individuals who feel stuck in a rut, unhappy or unfulfilled at work or at a career crossroads. This can be through one off clarity sessions or coaching programmes lasting 6-12 weeks. And I use art to help the process – you can see more on how I work here.
What is a typical workday like?
It really varies. I might be seeing a client (either face-to-face in a café or on Skype), which will involve preparing for a session and doing the artwork and follow up notes afterwards. Or going to a networking event, or having coffee with a perspective client. A lot of my time is spent on marketing and social media, and replying to emails. Sometimes it can be really sociable, meeting lots of people, and other times I might be based at my computer for a few days in a row.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being self-employed, and working as a coach in particular, can be quite isolating, because you don’t have colleagues and also you can’t talk to people about what you have talked to your clients about. But I make sure I go to a lot of networking events, meet other coaches for coffee and business chats, and have regular supervision which helps.
Also marketing yourself – I am an introvert and, like a lot of creative people, find it very hard to put myself out there, but if I don’t, then I just become a well kept secret! I’m having to learn a lot about social media and networking – but I also really enjoy this as it is all a chance to develop myself and learn new things – and personal development is something I love.
“The coaching has given me a huge boost in self-confidence, showed me where I want to head with my career, and has lifted my mood long-term. I can’t thank Jane enough for her patience, understanding, encouragement and motivation, and would wholeheartedly recommend her.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing how my clients energy changes, both in a one off session and across a programme of coaching. They can come to me feeling really muddled, frustrated and stuck, and just through listening and taking them through the coaching process, time after time they really blossom! They come away feeling energised, motivated, confident, and positive – it is like magic – it’s addictive! It is such a privilege to be part of that journey with someone.
Have your friends and family been supportive of your career choice?
My friends and husband have – definitely – they are my biggest fans! Also my husband runs his own business so that really helps as we can understand where each other is coming from. I think my family are supportive but don’t really understand it as a career choice!
What advice would you give to others thinking of a career as a Visual Career Coach?
In terms of coaching, it is a great skill to have and can be used in all sorts of jobs and careers. I would say that it is good to think about what you might want to do with it long term if you do some training – because it is pretty tough trying to make it work as a business, there is a lot of competition out there, and it is really a part-time profession.
Also, anyone can decide to call themselves a coach and set up a practice, whether or not they have had training, but it is worth having training, especially because it is likely to become more regulated, and because clients like to know your qualifications. Also do training that is recognised by one of the international coaching organisations.
What keeps you motivated?
Meeting up with other inspiring women who also work for themselves, seeing how much difference I make to my clients, and making sure I have a good balance between my coaching and my art practices.
What direction would you like to take your career in 2016?
I have spent the last 8 months working full time developing what I do and my business, but coaching is hard to do full-time, that is the reality of it unfortunately. So this year is all about balance for me – balancing a part-time job with building my business and also growing my own practice as an artist. I am also very keen to coach more students who are coming to the end of their studies but don’t know what they want to do next – so I am exploring ways to build on this client base.
Thank you so much to Jane for taking the time to be involved with this interview series. I wish her the best of luck with her coaching business throughout 2016. You can find Jane over on her blog, website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
If you would like to take part in my Career Inspiration series then leave a comment below or drop me a message on Twitter.