Brightstar Coach was created after my work with 4000+ undergraduate students (as a career coach & academic advisor) at Duke University. I began noticing similar themes that arose among the students. They were the brightest young people I’ve ever met, but in the internship and career process, fear and stress became obstacles to authenticity and productivity. In other words, many of my advisees focused so much on the end goal (that usually included securing a job at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs) – that the process became mired in anxiety and unforgiving comparisons to peers. The students who were the most at ease, could be the most authentic. They could then tap into their strengths and set achievable and realistic goals for themselves. When I initially thought the solution might be magic…. I realized that the best thing I could do for my advisees was to simplify the process — ask them to breathe, to slow down, to find the common thread that connected their skills and experiences. We talked about life would look like if we moved stress and pressure out of the way. I helped to give them perspective so they could be their very best. We then worked together to develop a strategy, an action plans and a systematic, attainable set of goals and a timeline.
My experience with college students made me curious. When did students become so worried about the end goal that their confidence decreased, rather than increased? I started working with high school students, and as a mother of three kids I began to see the pressure surrounding the college admissions process. There are myths that float around: “Did you hear College A needs a perfect ACT score?” “Did you know you have to be the leader of 10 clubs?” “Did you hear Jenny’s parents went to Harvard so she is guaranteed a spot?” “Did you know that you can’t have anything but straight A’s to get into an Ivy League school?” The pressure around the admissions process is a behemoth. Parents feel it. Students feel it. As a result, the dialogue between parents and kids around the college process becomes loaded and challenging. One of the reasons this pressure builds over time, is due to the focus on the “what” (list of making the accomplishments list as long as possible) versus the “how” (what are my talents and skills and the “why” (where do I derive my interests and energy, what do I actually care about in the world and why?”)