02/01/2011

A Day in the Life of an Eccentric Career Architect

By Ebony Tara Scurry

 I love my career. Not a day goes by that I don’t think how fortunate I am to help others in their quest to feel the same. When I say “quest”, I mean it down to the core. Wikipedia, describes a quest as “a journey towards a goal…In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel.” My clients are on a quest to make a comfortable living in a career they’re passionate about and which allows them to leverage their uniqueness and creativity.

 

Building a Solid Career Foundation

I am “The Career Architect” because my style and approach focus on building a solid career foundation from the ground up for all of my clients, regardless of their eccentricity. I’m about solving the root of the problem for long-term success. All solid houses need a strong foundation. In career terms, we’re talking about professional development and strategies that help our clients not just survive, but thrive during economic uncertainty.

The key is putting into action the concept that thriving has less to do with meditating on external labor market limitations, and more to do with internal fortitude and confidence in our high potential as human beings. It’s about embracing and elevating an internal locus of control.

 

Serving “Eccentric” And “Creative” Clients

For me, “eccentric” and “creative” equal some of the most interesting people on the planet. When I’m not providing services to federal agencies, businesses, and non-profits, my creative clients have my heart and time. From the serious-gamers and Anime enthusiast to Goths - extreme creativity and an unwavering dedication to being true to themselves are the links that tie these clients together.

One of the most interesting things about being an eccentric Career Architect is that I’ve inadvertently attracted clients who found themselves on the fringes of mainstream society. From convicted felons to people still engaged in illegal activities who desperately want “out”, these clients have a need for a non-judgmental consultant in order to secure legit careers and break the cycle. One client said to me, “I’ve wanted to get out but there weren’t any reasonable options that would pay the bills. No one wanted to help me, but I heard you help people like me. You’re literally helping me change my life.” This is the type of feedback that motivates me every day.

 

Strive To Be a Comprehensive Strategy Guide

Getting through the barrier of choosing from the ocean of opportunities can be one of the most difficult obstacles to conquer. It’s like a role-playing video game. All good video games come with a strategy guide and that’s where I come in; I share tips, secrets, and maps to help clients get to their goals as quickly as possible with less effort and more confidence.

These video game strategy guides speak in lay-mans terms, have simple directions, and walk the gamer through each phase; practically assuring 100% completion. Strategy guides increase our chances of completing the game faster and more efficiently. This is exactly how we should serve our clients.

We don’t have to be a Jill-of-all-trades to provide value, but we must strive to give the most comprehensive solutions to our clients. This means cultivating long-term relationships and implementing a referral network to serve client needs outside of our scope.

 

In Practice: Building a Foundation and Strategy Guides

One of my clients had a well-paying job that was literally making her sick. Knowing that she was under the care of a physician and a therapist for work-related stress and anxiety helped me support her in eliminating the root of her problem. To build her solid career foundation we explored visions of her dream career, her personal mission statement, and the circumstances that caused the situation to unfold. We then identified potential opportunities and pitfalls, while leveraging her transferable skills and extensive volunteer experience.

I strove to offer a comprehensive strategy guide by initiating proactive conversations about potential obstacles and helped her brainstorm solutions. This strategy can reduce client anxiety and help build credibility and rapport. I also taught her career strategies customized to her strengths and situation which increased her confidence and empowered her to take action.

To add value, I hired a professional organizer from my network to assist her when I noticed that her disorganized personal workspace was impeding her success. She became more able to successfully gather documents for her career portfolio and keep track of networking prospects and job leads. Now, my client is working in a leadership capacity at an exotic plant nursery until she can live her dream of managing and owning multiple medical marijuana nurseries once they are legalized in her state.

 

Balancing Client “Needs” With “Wants”

Helping eccentric clients achieve their goals takes strategies that aren’t covered in the average career coaching handbook. As a creative and eccentric person myself, I know this first hand. To say it was a challenge matching my goals and values within the constraints of mainstream professional society would be an understatement. Connecting with my clients through trust and an understanding of their unique lifestyle allows me to help those who have previously been too cautious or pessimistic to ask for support.

One of my biggest daily challenges is doing what the client wants, versus providing them with what I believe they need. A common perception is that a “good” resume can fix any career obstacle. However, I often find that their resume should be the least of their worries. Guiding them into long-term success by addressing the root of their problem is always my priority. It isn’t easy, but it’s definitely a challenging and rewarding adventure.

 


 

Ebony Tara ScurryEbony Tara Scurry, PHR, GCDF is The Career Architect™ at Eidolon Career Solutions, a career management and diversity-inclusion division of Tara Enterprises, LLC specializing in serving motivated, creative communities and the organizations that employ them. Scurry holds degrees from Sweet Briar College and Johns Hopkins University. She also serves as Adjunct Faculty at a Washington Metropolitan Area career-focused college teaching courses in Human Resources, Sociology, and Career Development. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and can be reached at ebony@eidoloncareersolutions.com .

 

 


6 Comments

Charlotte Rinaldi on Wednesday 02/02/2011 at 12:31PM wrote:

Wow Ebony,
What a clear overview of an incredibly complex process. I work with Liberal Arts students at a polytechnic university. Although many of these students are not as "eccentric" as you described, they feel it because of the contrast between their need to continue the internal search while their peers are following linear career paths. It was fun to hear your process of guiding clients without limiting them by outside expectations. Thanks for a great article.

Ebony Tara Scurry, PHR, GCDF on Wednesday 02/02/2011 at 10:59PM wrote:

Hi Charlotte!

Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my article. I’m thrilled you fun learning about my process! I wish you the best of luck as you work with your Liberal Arts students. I absolutely know what you mean as per their need to continue searching within themselves despite what their peers are pursuing. Again, thank you for your comment! Please stay in touch!

~ Ebony

Jennifer Rogers on Thursday 02/03/2011 at 12:51PM wrote:

I really enjoyed your article on being a career architect. You expressed yourself beautifully, describing so well our interactions with clients and strategies to help them. Your title got me thinking, maybe I am a "career geographer"? Helping clients find their way to their destination!

Love it! Great to re-frame my personal label.

Thank you!

Ebony Tara Scurry, PHR, GCDF on Thursday 02/03/2011 at 10:27PM wrote:

Jennifer, thank you for your comment and compliment!

I’m so excited that you enjoyed my article. To learn that it inspired you to analyze your own title and brand means a lot me…makes all this hard work worth every second! Special kudos goes out to your tag-line by the way – I like it!

Best wishes as you move forward towards success!

~ Ebony

Ken Mattsson on Friday 02/04/2011 at 01:31PM wrote:

Ebony,

I was so surprised to find this article, as I work with some very similar clients (creative entrepreneurs, I call them) who's career paths fall outside of the normal way that people think about career development. I 100% agree that for career advising to be effective, it has to be connected to their lives, and I find that analogies are one of the key things to get them to understand, as it's in the non-linear language they understand.

The largest value that I can bring is usually the structure in understanding how they will succeed and helping them build that foundation.

Ken Mattsson

Ebony Tara Scurry, PHR, GCDF on Friday 02/04/2011 at 09:51PM wrote:

Hi Ken,

Absolutely: the normal way many think about career development is that it’s a “stop and go-stop and go” linear pathway. In reality and in particularly for creative and eccentric clients, it’s actually more like an obstacle course!

Thank you for adding your input about the usefulness of using analogies. I also agree with you on helping them understand the “How”. When our clients happen to know “What” they want, they’re usually looking to us to show them “How” they can get there.

Thanks for sharing Ken! I appreciate your comment.

~ Ebony


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