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Spotlight – Dan King, Career Planning and Management, Inc.

Dan King

Principal, Career Counselor and Coach (in private practice), Career Planning and Management, Inc.

dan-kingDan received a BA from Wayne State University and a M.Ed. from Northeastern University.  He has been in his current role with Career Planning and Management for 28 years.

What was your career path to get your current role?  Outplacement Consultant, Boston Corporate Recruiter, Boston General Manager / Training Director, Marriott, Washington DC Hotel and Restaurant Manager, Detroit Wine Captain, Machus Red Fox (restaurant in Michigan where Jimmy Hoffa was last seen!)

What was your first job?  I worked after school for an Automotive Engineer from Ford Motor Company to help him start a side business. I made $10 hour and thought I was rich — and as a 16-year old in Detroit, I probably was.

Why did you choose this career?  I didn’t have strong role models or mentors, so I spent many years in careers that just “happened by accident” with little thought about where they would lead. By the time I reached 30, I realized that I was developing skills that I didn’t really enjoy using. My work seemed meaningless. This disconnect forced me to take more responsibility for my career development. Based on personal interest, I sought information about graduate programs in Counseling and immediately found a connection with the people in the programs, something new for me. As I pursued it further, I felt the world open up for me — and it made me want to help people who were as aimless as I was.

What is the skill that is most important in your current role?  Without a doubt: Listening. You need to allow clients to be “heard” without judgment. You need to suspend the tendency to give advice before the client is ready to hear it. Often the presenting issue camouflages underlying concerns. Unlike other counseling disciplines, career counseling does require giving direction, but you need to know when it’s appropriate to do so.

How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly?  I think counseling and coaching skills are innate. Sure, you can acquire training and education to enhance your skills and give you credibility, but to really be successful there needs to something within you to begin with. To stay current, I read a lot of professional journals and books. I’ve also achieved numerous certifications (CDF, MCC and others) to stay current, all of which require CEU’s. Staying in touch with colleagues across a wide spectrum of backgrounds is very helpful. Listening to their stories helps me to know a little about a lot of fields.

Did you have a mentor? I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, some formal and some informal. I had a special connection with my advisor in my graduate program and he continued to be a source of support and guidance for over 15 years beyond my graduation. Other than that, I’ve found that being self-employed requires that you maintain an informal board of advisors to help you grow and learn. You can’t know everything. As a counselor, such skills as marketing and finance don’t come naturally to me — but I’ve learned that’s it’s possible to get good at things I don’t like doing — as long as I don’t turn them into my career!

Did you hold any EACE leadership roles?  I held positions on the EACE Board for four years, plus two years on the ECEN Board previously. I chaired several committees and presented many programs at annual conferences. My involvement has been helpful in building and maintaining relationships, many of which are 20+ years strong. It’s great to have first name relationships with many Career Services Directors — and has led to opportunties to provide support to career/alumni programs and receive referrals of clients when appropriate. It’s been a win-win.

What is your biggest career accomplishment?  Being able to build and sustain a private practice for 28 years. It hasn’t always been easy. At times I questioned whether I was courageous or just plain stupid. But I’ve been passionate about making it work through good times and bad. It has allowed me do work that I love to do — and get paid for it. There have also been many intangible rewards. I am on a cloud when someone tells me I’ve made a big difference in their life.

What is your advice to students looking for their first job?  Pursue a job that aligns closely with your interests and values — and then figure out a way to make a living doing it. All too often, people start out looking for the job that makes them the most money — and then continue to build skills and experience in a particular field. This can trip them up later when they find they’ve gotten good at things they really don’t like to do. They can find themselves in jobs that can feel like a life sentence. Changing careers later is not easy. I would recommend getting it right the first time.

What was the best career advice you have ever received?  Although it sounds cliche, “Do what you love, the money will follow” is great advice. The first time I heard this, I thought: “I love sitting on the beach all day, so show me the money.” But over time I’ve come to realize that if you do what you love, you’ll figure out a way to make the most money doing it — and be happier in the long run.

What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role?  Get to know the career services folks at your school. Ask questions, learn what they do, ask about different settings where career counselors work. Get involved in professional associations in the career development field. Schedule informational meetings with career counselors and coaches in public and private settings. Volunteer for career-related events to build your network and learn about the world-of-work. I’m happy to chat with anyone who is considering starting a private practice. Thanks to all at EACE for your support and friendship over the years.

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