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Career Coach Blog: Too Much Grit


Career coaching is one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs I have ever held. You work at the school, but you do not work for the school. You expose students to different careers but do not technically teach a class. You are stepping into a building where people wonder what you are doing and why you are there. Add starting in the middle of a school year, and you have a mountain to climb with flip-flops.

One of the first few days at Walnut Attendance Center, I met as many students as possible, introduced myself, and offered any help they needed. One student named Larry Joe was one of the first students I got the privilege to know. He is a tall, slender guy with a thick country accent and is laid way back like Brantley Gilbert said George Jones was in his song “Dirt Road Anthem”. As I got to know him, we found a mutual interest in hunting and fishing. As I got to know him more, I realized he was a sharp guy. Some people have classroom sense but need help understanding the hustle and grit it takes to succeed. Larry had both sides, and I assumed he had someone who invested time to give him this well-rounded personality. I asked about his dad, and he told me that he did not have a relationship with his dad but that his mother’s dad, his grandfather, and his stepfather invested in him.

I began asking other teachers about Larry Joe, and all of them spoke highly of him, so I started talking to Larry more. We began talking about life after high school, considering he was a senior and did not know what he would do. He took an interest in the military, so we sat down with a recruiter, but Larry was not 100% sure about enlisting, so we looked around more. I took a group of students to CFI, and they talked about how they will pay you while they train you to weld, and after you meet proficiency, they will give you more responsibility and raise your pay. Larry heard that and said, “I am going to do that.” I was proud of Larry and knew he would do great, so I told the person over hiring, “I have a guy that wants to work here after he graduates, and he will move up in no time.”

Larry was about a month away from graduating when he told me his granddad had passed. I knew his granddad meant a lot to him and hoped this would not hinder his plans for the track he was on. I was able to attend the funeral and encourage Larry that his granddad is proud of him and will continue to be proud of him. Larry graduated and started at CFI and is doing exactly what I knew he would do: giving it all he has daily. I have called and checked in on Larry occasionally. he loves the job, and they love him, and I have no doubt he will run the place before long.

As a career coach, sometimes all it takes is a conversation to build a lifelong friendship and a source of encouragement. I received a picture of Larry, and as much as I want to encourage him, his integrity in his work and loyalty encourage me all the more. Larry could have given up due to his dad not being in life, and he could have quit when his grandfather passed, but he has too much grit for that.

Success stories come in all different shapes and sizes, but all should be celebrated the same way. I could not be more proud of Larry because he made a plan and is doing what he loves. I will continue keeping up with Larry and encouraging him because a career coach is always a career coach, and we do not own microwaves.

Austin Hamilton is a career coach at Walnut Attendance Center, one of 185 coaches across the state who are helping high school students find successful paths into the workforce.