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What was going on in your career when you first started coaching?

When I started my career coaching sessions, I was focused on kickstarting job searching efforts on the West Coast, where I wanted to relocate for personal reasons. However, I found myself lacking the direction and confidence to make this happen. I found Lauren with the hopes of clarifying want kind of job I was going to look for and how best to go about it. I also knew I needed a confidence boost in order to interview well so I was really looking for help with with the whole process. I was also struggling with a challenging boss whose emotions and goals for our organization seemed analogous to a pinball machine -- often unpredictable and little structure in terms of how we might meet our (ill-defined at best) goals. Although, I sought out Parachute Coaching for help with my career transition, I also learned helpful ways to deal with my work environment in the process. 

What big step have you recently taken in your career journey?

I took a giant leap in my career this past summer. After working with Lauren and doing a few trips to California to build a network, I told my boss I’d be leaving our organization in 3 months to move out west. This was a really big step for me, but after working through my values and goals, I understood it was worth the risk, and would help propel me towards what I really wanted. I also felt confident enough in the network and in my professional skills to make the move without a job if need be.  That alone was immensely liberating. I knew to make my dream of moving happen I had to make this choice. What evolved was quite unexpected. My boss came up with a few ideas of ways to retain me, but most were impractical. Ultimately though, she ended up offering me a new challenge in my job that worked for me, even being on the West Coast. She saw a great opportunity for our organization and I was thrilled with the new responsibilities and the challenge, and of course moving with the security of employment and salary was amazing.

What risk are you glad you took?

The risk I’m glad I took is the one described above – making the decision to move to California whether I had found employment yet or not. Moving out west was the right decision for me and has been a long time coming and once I made what was a really bold decision for me, things just fell into place.

What is one thing you do every day that keeps you focused?

I listen to classical music to help keep me focused and relaxed.

What is a recent moment in your career that made you really proud?

Recently a team member left the organization to return to her home state and focus on graduate school. Working at the organization was her first professional job and she thanked me for how much I taught and guided her. She is an amazing person and did a fabulous job in her role, but the challenging, fast-paced work environment took its toll sometimes. I tried to mentor her to develop her skills and to promote her professional growth. It was very rewarding to have her heartfelt thanks for helping her succeed in her role I loved knowing that she feels I prepared her well for her next steps in her career.

What is a failure you’ve experienced in your career and what lesson did you learn from it?

When I only had a few years of professional experience, I consulted for the History Channel to develop curriculum for their documentaries, as I used to be a secondary school history teacher. Unfortunately, I failed to obtain clear expectations of the deliverables. I formatted the materials in a way that I found easiest for teachers, but it wasn’t what she was looking for. My short-term consulting work stayed short-term and I have always kicked myself for not speaking up to defend and explain my work. I was so stunned and already had an aversion to confrontation, so I said nothing in my defense. Before this incident, I had not experienced a significant failure in the workplace; I was horrified and embarrassed that the supervisor had come away thinking I was incompetent. From this experience though, I learned the critical need for getting clear direction and expectations upfront. I also stand up for myself more, I am more vocal and inquisitive at the outset and I do not shy away from these critical and possibly confrontational conversations.

What was your biggest take-away from your coaching experience?

My biggest take away was being able to frame and tell my professional story, and with that story also communicate what I had accomplished and could offer another employer. This gave me much more confidence in my networking and interviewing process and, not surprisingly, made these interactions more successful.

What is the best movie you've seen lately?

“A Room with a View.” It is an old movie, but it is one I’ve loved for years and I watched it again recently. The theme of being engaged in the world around you and following your passions, which also means being a risk taker, has always stood as a reminder and inspiration for me. And Florence, Italy being the backdrop for most of the movie just adds a wonderful treat for the eyes.

Eliza Coleman