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Coaching the Young Client

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Coaching the Upwardly Mobile

There are indeed many rich opportunities for significant work with young middle-class clients.  Many options await these potential coaching clients. They are not restricted to a specific career option or a limited range of career options, as was often the case with earlier generations who were confronted with “identity foreclosure” (a limited set of options determined by their parents, their society or their socio-economic status). Given the challenges associated with this freedom of career options, there is the need for coach-assisted values clarification, priority setting, career planning, etc. Without this coaching support, there is likely to be an “escape from freedom” on the part of young adults. This escape can lead to poor career choices, wandering through many short-term jobs, or falling back into a job or career that meets family or societal expectations (based on gender, race, or socio-economic level).

Coaching the Underground

Professional coaching also makes sense regarding work with young lower middle class clients and others without a job or very good prospect of a job. We wrote several years ago about the organizational underground that is filled with underemployment, unemployment and despair associated with loss of hope and opportunity (Foley and Bergquist, 2010).  Unfortunately, this underground has grown even larger since we wrote about it.  Jennifer Silva (2013) has recently reported on her studies regarding the “coping” of many young men and women. Her work is reminiscent of Lillian Rubin’s (1992) classic portrayal of lower middle class lives in Worlds of Pain.

While there is considerable need for coaching that is offered for those young clients living in the organizational underground and seeking to cope with a non-supportive world, we will focus in this essay on those young people who are hopeful–and justifiably so. They are the potential young clients enrolled in graduate schools and those identified as high potentials by leaders of their organizations.

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