Two weeks ago (Wednesday) in my Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurship class, I had the students reflect on their lives using our 50 Kick-Ass Questions to Awaken Meaningful Change. After class, one student wrote me an email, sharing that he had 37 “No” answers – out of 50! He also shared that he was thinking about dropping out of college because the ONLY thing he enjoyed doing was playing video games. In fact, his goal was to be a professional gamer.
After reading his email, instead of firing off questions, I actually put my “curator” hat on and decided to see what kind of jobs professional gamers could get…and found several videos and articles that had pretty useful information about professional gaming, as well as a few questions around his side hustle idea – which was to be a gaming coach. After he wrote me back thank me for taking the time to reply to his e-mail, he shared more in-depth information about his interests and his side hustle. After reading his second e-mail, it dawned on me that I remembered reading an article on ESPN about a young lady serving as an e-sports game coach at a university. To make a long story short, I did a little research and found a BOATLOAD of information about coaching, e-sports, scholarships, etc. – providing me fascinating research on the e-sports industry on college campuses (side note: did you know it’s a $1.1 billion industry – and growing fast). I shared all of the information (about 20+ articles and videos) I found over the weekend with him.
After he read over the information, we set up a time to meet on Monday after class to talk about what I shared, as well as talk about potential majors. In about 15 minutes, we came up with a major, a plan of action for his time in college, and two paths to follow once he’s done college, as a professional gamer and/or as a gaming coach. After our conversation, he gave me a big hug, sharing that I was THE FIRST person in his life that actually took time to talk to him seriously about his interest in professional gaming. My point – if I had just focused on asking powerful questions, we’d most likely still be talking.
I share this story because as advisors/coaches, we have to serve students in many different ways because every student is different. In the story above, I use my “curating” superpower to dig up information, “coaching” skills to ask him questions to gather information about him, “advising” skills to make a recommendation about a major, and “career counseling” to suggest potential potential career interests. And now, I serve as a “mentor” to help him shape his academic/professional future and build his side hustle business.
Today, we need to obtain a variety of skills to work with students, especially those students that bounce from one thing (and one institution) to another. With an economy and job market that’s rapidly changing, adaptability and flexibility are two of the most important skills to develop in young people. Guess what? Educators will also need to be adaptable and flexible and possess a variety of skills to help people be successful in life. And it’s my belief that both advisors/coaches and students will need to learn how to infuse skill-stacking (combining many diverse, solid skills into one unique whole) in order to manage their careers over the next decade.