Project Description

My 27 year old goddaughter just completed her Master’s Degree in Career Counseling and landed her first major fulltime position within the University of California educational system. And, she did all this during the Coronavirus pandemic!

As a godmother, I would be counted as one of her major lifelong cheerleaders. In my professional capacity, Emily interned for me, saw me as a role model and called on me as a mentor along her career development journey. She also turned to her mom who is in the field of psychology, her peers, academic advisors, internship and job supervisors, as well as professionals in her network. Striking out on her own, however, she forged her unique independent path with all this support.

Integrating Current Needs and Her Future Dreams

As I observed Emily create her path, it was a strategic, step-by-step, evolving journey that took into account

1.) her current needs as a 20-something embarking on an independent life, while also

2.) fully embracing her future dreams

It involved a conscious willingness to stretch out of her comfort zone while also having the support, coaching and mentoring from professors, employers and professionals.

She’ll go through a number of these transitions as she grows in her career and integrates other personal aspects in her life. Happily she’s discovered a “formula” that will be useful each time she enters a new phase.

A “Formula” for Success

Since graduating from Hamline University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Communications, Emily’s forged a career path she loves. Yearning to live on the coast after college, I encouraged her by sharing that for me, living in San Francisco and going to graduate school during my twenties was freeing. I could “become myself.” In the new environment, where no one knew me, I could “Be myself.” While a bit scary, I could stretch into and develop new parts of myself. I thought she could too. It was just the encouragement she needed to follow her dreams!

Exploring her new city of San Francisco, making a home, odd-jobbing it to pay rent and basic living expenses were paired with volunteer positions in counseling critical to make her confident and stand out in graduate school admissions. This year of transition from college to grad school gave her California State residency which made graduate school affordable. It got her accepted to her chosen Master’s program in Career Counseling at San Francisco State University. Once there she stretched herself in coursework, connecting with profs and mentors, taking on internships in her field of choice. Already very poised, every time we Facetimed I could see her communication skills and confidence growing. I got to see it in her presentation in a lovely virtual celebration with her professors and fellow graduates.

Post-Graduate Transition

In spite of the pandemic,  post graduation transitions appeared seamless for Emily. It appeared seamless while she was diligently submitting job applications and interviewing in her chosen geographic surround. Early on she was offered a full-time contract position in the department she had worked during graduate school. Fortuitous while she continued her search. She was able to come back to her home state of Minnesota, spending time with her mom and friends, while working full-time virtually with her clients, helping to lead a team run virtual career day for students and having 1st, 2nd and 3rd job interviews—all from her old bedroom!

This flexibility never would have existed in Emily’s counseling field, nor in her schooling or work, without the work-life changes brought on by the pandemic.

Again, Emily knew what she wanted. Full-time. Well paying. Remain in the Bay Area. Stretch her counseling skills to work with the population she most desired. She strategically went after it and while being courted by 2 University of California counseling departments, she was offered the job in a virtual call on a Friday night at 5pm with the 4 top people in the department with whom she’d had 3 interviews!

Emily wanted the position first offered, but she had questions about negotiating specifics of the salary, benefits and start date. We noted how everything she is learning will benefit her clients going forward! Regarding salary, we discussed how there’s data that earnings in your twenties probably determine income over a lifetime.  That women statistically earn far less than men and their salary peaks at a younger age than men’s. So negotiating from the start (with all your skills and diplomacy) is important, even if it’s just showing them you are confident, savvy—and that you’ll expect bumps at appropriate times.

Wish her well as she starts her new position! We’ll continue to follow her progress over time.

Here’s what she says about how aspects of our relationship have influenced her career path:

I have known and worked with Jan personally and professionally for a number of years. As a personal mentor, she has provided me genuine and valuable advice and expertise when it came to pursuing a career path based on my passions, values, and interests. She spent time talking me through the important and critical steps to begin my career and has influenced me to go into the field that I’m in, career development among young professionals. My professional work with Jan helped me to develop a critical-thinking, creative, and business-savvy mindset. I learned from her how to listen to someone’s story and help create solution-focused goals, generally from an organizational standpoint. Her focus on collaboration and teamwork have been admirable for creating an environment in which strategic ideas have developed. Jan has always encouraged partnering with others and building relationships, which I have learned is vital to creative professional development. As I have embarked on my own journey through graduate school and into my first professional career position, I must give credit to Jan’s influence and dedication in working with me.

-Emily Nahem