Why Coaching Was the Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

Lisanne van Engelen
Lisanne van Engelen

Lisanne van Engelen is a current MS Information Systems student at Carey. She is also a Social Impact Network intern with the Career Development Office.

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The Friday of my first week of class was my first career coaching appointment. I strolled into the Bernstein-Offit Building or the BOB building as it’s known among students studying at the Carey Business School’s Washington, D.C. campus. As I slowly made my way to the 8th floor and to the Career Development Office, I was fully unaware that my life would never be the same again. I checked in for my appointment with Jacques Domenge, sat down in the comfy blue waiting chairs, and nervously flipped through the National Geographic magazines as I waited for my appointment to start.

Exactly at 10 a.m., Jacques came out to the waiting area and led me back to his office. I had only met Jacques a couple of times before this appointment and didn’t really know what to expect, so I anxiously sat down at the table in his office. He asked if I wanted anything to drink and we decided on some delicious hot green tea. As he stepped away for a bit to brew the tea, I took the time to look around his office and outside. I could feel the anxiety building with thoughts running through my head like “what if he realizes that I’m not at all qualified to be at Johns Hopkins, what if he thinks that something is totally wrong with me, or what if he thinks that there’s totally no hope for me at all?”

When Jacques came back with the tea, I immediately wrapped my hands around the cup to warm them up and distract myself from these thoughts. We started talking about my background, career aspirations, and more. Through the first appointment, I felt the most vulnerable I ever have. It was scary and unnatural to open up to someone so quickly about my fears and weaknesses, but I never once felt judged or unheard. I left the appointment feeling supported and cautiously optimistic about my path, and immediately made my next appointment.

Since then, I have had seven appointments with Jacques and I leave each time feeling more confident and secure than I did before. I can wholeheartedly say that, if it were not for Jacques and the Career Development Office, I would not be where I am today. I felt directionless and hopeless, but through his guidance, I have been able to discover my strengths as well as how to manage my weaknesses. The tools and experience that the Career Development staff have are like none other and their heart and passion for helping students is unbelievable. As a Career Development Office intern, I get to see this passion every day and I feel inspired and lucky to get to be a part of it. Even though I now feel confident in myself and my progress, I will continue going to coaching appointments as they will help me to continuously grow and get over the hurdles that come from this new self-awareness.

Before coaching, I felt lost; I knew that I was pretty good at a lot of things, but I didn’t really feel passionate about any of them. I didn’t know where I was going in life and I just could not get over the hurdle of self-doubt that was always playing in the back of my mind. It felt as though I was doomed to fail and there was no way through the dark clouds of doubt and uncertainty. But with Jacques gentle, guiding questions in our coaching conversations, I slowly began to make my way through the clouds and started to understand that doubt and uncertainty are alright; they are uncomfortable and will always be in your thoughts, but there are ways that we can manage and work with them to ensure that they don’t take over everything. The new mindfulness has been a long and difficult, but exceedingly rewarding, process. I feel fully confident in my abilities and strengths and have recognized where my weaknesses are. I don’t focus my energy on my weaknesses; instead, I find ways to utilize my strengths and allow them to shape me into who I am.

I know that sometimes we see asking for help and guidance as a sign of weakness. We’re afraid to be vulnerable and show the worst sides of ourselves. We’re uncomfortable with being open and talking about what we’re struggling with. I know I was before I started my coaching sessions.

I highly encourage you to take a chance and make an appointment with a coach. You’ll find that they are some of the best, most amazing people and that they’re only there to help and guide, not to judge. They are there for much more than just resume reviews, they are there to help you succeed and grow. Like Fred Rogers, the late host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood once said, “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.” There is no one I would rather have on my side in my journey to discover my truth than Jacques and the rest of the Career Development team.

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