Researchers from Ohio State University recently presented a study indicating people’s level of job satisfaction in their early 20s and 30s impacts their health in their 40s. The team looked at longitudinal job satisfaction data and found that those who reported low satisfaction on the job, along with those whose satisfaction levels declined over time were more likely to experience mental and physical health challenges later on in life.
While many factors contribute to health, the study confirms what we intuitively might guess: career choices matter. Yet many students move through college without critical knowledge to make such choices. On one hand, much has been done to introduce students to career opportunities. Career and personality assessments, apps introducing STEM fields, and campus career service offices are among many of the critical resources to help students discover opportunities. What’s often missing however is the critical self-reflection process where students define what job satisfaction looks like on a personal level, and how that might play out in various working environments.
A career services professional at an Ivy League institution shared that while student retention and professional placement is not a challenge for them, helping students align personal values to career choices is a priority and an area of service they are committed to delivering.
This process of exploring what’s important to a student and using it as a framework for life decisions goes beyond a one-time assessment or a quick fix app. It often requires a trusting relationship that facilitates pondering life’s hard questions, exploring vision and dreams, and the wrestling with assumptions and obstacles.
An academic coach can be a student’s greatest ally in this process. A coach’s role isn’t simply to tell a student about career options and education pathways, nor is it relegated to helping a student overcome a difficult class or academic challenge. The essence of an academic coach is to create the space for a student to critically reflect on choices, behaviors, motivators and values.
Coaches help students wrestle with questions such as:
• What does being satisfied in your career look like to you?
• How important is job security to you? How important will it be in the future?
• What will keep you motivated to get up and go to work each morning?
• How important is the ability to grow and learn new skills to you?
• How well do you handle ambiguity?
• What types of environment create stress for you?
• What types of environments make you feel ‘alive’?
If students spend time reflecting on these sorts of questions they will be more likely to make choices that align with their definition of satisfaction. And in doing so, they positively impact the chances of fulfillment and better health along the way.
To learn more about Academic Coaching visit www.lifebound.com.