Football. Basketball. Soccer. Hockey. In any sport, a coach is an invaluable part of any team.
The coaches’ job is to shape athletes in a sport by analyzing their performance, teaching them relevant skills and providing encouragement. Of course, a great coach will not only help a player perform better and grow physically stronger, he or she will guide the athlete in life and help them become a better person overall.
In other words, a coach is a pretty important and useful person to have on your sports team. So, why do we have coaches for sports, but not coaches for important aspects of our life, like our careers?
The short answer is everyone could use a good coach, especially when you’re starting out. Regardless of your career path of choice or your education, you could use guidance from someone who “knows the game,” so to speak.
So Why Do You Need a Job Coach in the Skilled Trades?
You will learn the skills you need to succeed in your field from an experienced tradesperson and more. Whether you are interested in construction, mechanics, plumbing, pipefitting, tool programming, carpentry, welding, or anything in between, a good job coach will help you identify what you are doing right and how to do it better. The right mentor will give you time to develop the confidence you need to perfect your skills to navigate the world of work.
What is a Job Coach?
A job coach is an individual who helps people with career development, professional goals and long-term workplace success strategies, according to Chron.com. Job coaches are available for hire for most professional careers, except the skilled trades. If you are looking for someone to help you get into or improve your career in the skilled trades, coaches are harder to find.
The History of Job Coaches
In the past, apprenticeships were the common way to learn and improve your trade skills. If you wanted to learn a trade, you would approach a master craftsperson and ask to apprentice with them.
The master would teach you the skills a level at a time, usually starting with the most menial of tasks. Over time, you would have been given more complex assignments until you finally perfected your craft. As Gail M. Steines, Ph.D., says in the HERC blog, “Not only were traditions passed down from generation to generation in this manner, but lifelong relationships were also developed, as the apprentice became a part of a trade.” You could then open a shop and take in an apprentice of your own.
A few decades ago, shop class was common in high schools. You would be introduced to several trades, varying from woodworking to auto mechanics. These classes gave you the basic skills you would need for an entry-level job in a trade. As you worked your way up in the crew, you would master more difficult skills by shadowing an experienced team member.
Today, you can enroll in technical schools or join the military to learn trade skills. However, if these are not options for you, a job coach can help. Where can you find a skilled trades job coach? Well, an internet search doesn’t turn up too many results. You are going to have to get creative.
How to Find a Mentor
To find a mentor in the field, you will need to consider who will fill this role for you. Also, decide on which skill or trade it is that you want to focus. Make it your goal to learn this skill, then get to work to make it happen. Here’s how:
- Who do you know with the skill you want to learn? It should be someone you admire such as a supervisor, experienced worker, master craftsman, business owner, friend or family member. Ask them to teach you or if they could recommend someone to train you.
- Always offer to help. If you see someone working on a car and you want to be a mechanic, lend a hand. You will get some basic training for free.
- Volunteer with disaster clean-ups, neighborhood improvement projects, church missions or any opportunities to involve yourself in a trade. Many times skilled laborers will volunteer their services for these events. You can work beside them, learn and connect with your future job coach.
- Read up on the skill you want to acquire. Knowing the trade you want to learn will help you speak with peers and potential mentors.
- Go to trade shows, craft fairs and events to talk to the vendors & craftspeople. Create a network that can lead to your job coach. Ask questions about how they got started and if they would consider an apprenticeship.
- Search online for clubs, programs or individuals who work in the trade you want to learn. Reach out to the group or person about lessons.
- Apply for the job you want, even if you don’t have the skills. During the interview, be honest about your abilities and that you want to learn the trade. You may not land the job, but you may gain a referral to a mentor or offered an apprenticeship.
- Apply at a staffing agency. Companies reach out to agencies to fill short-term or entry-level positions. You may be able to start in an entry-level position surrounded by master craftsmen. Your coworkers can become your network or a possible job coach.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. If you really want to learn a trade or improve your skill sets, you need to get creative and be persistent.
If you want to learn a skilled trade or expand your current skill set, you are going to have to think outside the box. Get creative and reach out to people around you who can lead you to your job coach. Ultimately, any time you spend seeking and working with a mentor will increase your value and earning potential. It’s an investment in your future.