Coach in the Spotlight: Alice Stapleton
We chat with Alice, who, after experiencing a Quarter Life Crisis in her 20s, identified a need to support Millennial career changers. Here's how she structures her coaching, how she finds her clients, and how she's built a successful online coaching business.
How did you become a coach?
I started my coaching business about ten years ago.
Having studied Psychology & Criminology at University, I originally trained as a Probation Officer. However, soon after qualifying, I realised that I wanted to use my people skills in a more direct way.
Coaching felt like the perfect fit with all the training and knowledge I’d already gained when it came to helping people change the way they think and behave.
I chose to research the Quarter Life Crisis as part of my Masters in Coaching & Mentoring Practice. I soon realised that very few coaches were talking about an experience that many people go through in young adulthood.
It was important for me to offer a coaching practice dedicated to the needs of those in their 20s and 30s, and there didn’t appear to be that much coaching support for that when I started out.
Whilst I used to coach people through a variety of different life challenges linked to the Quarter Life Crisis, I now solely focus on career change coaching.
Who do you work with and on what areas?
I work with those in their 20s and 30s who feel stuck in a career they no longer enjoy.
I help them figure out what they want to do instead (based on their personal and professional preferences) and how they’re going to make this new career a reality.
What was your practice like before Firework?
Before I trained with Firework, I offered much more general life and career coaching. I worked with clients who were in the thick of a Quarter Life Crisis, so the content of the sessions varied a great deal.
I also offered business coaching for those who were or wanted to start up their own business.
What challenges were you facing, specifically around career coaching?
I'd never received any formal training or education in career coaching specifically before Firework.
I found myself applying the approaches and tools I already had to the career setting, but I sometimes felt that career issues required more dedicated knowledge and understanding than this.
To be honest, I felt I was stumbling around in the dark a little. I wasn’t particularly confident in the career coaching I was offering at the time.
I'd collected resources and exercises over the years, but my approach and subsequent sessions were feeling a little haphazard and unstructured.
Why did you decide to invest in the Firework programme?
I was looking for a way to advance the coaching skills I’d honed over the years.
I’d also decided that I wanted to move away from general life coaching and focus specifically on career change, as that seemed to be the crux of the challenges that a lot of my clients were facing.
I felt that the Firework programme would offer me a coherent structure that I could immediately use with clients. I was also encouraged by the prospect of having exercises and resources that I could add to my current toolbox.
It was a great fit in that it echoed the sort of work I had been doing with clients, but the programme was packaged into a credible format that was easy to explain and roll out to clients.
Firework helped focus my coaching practice in exactly the way I was looking to do.
I wanted to focus specifically on career change coaching as that was the crux of what my clients were challenged with.
What was the experience like?
The training day was super helpful. It was great to go through the content, practice it in a safe space, and discuss the potential outcomes for clients.
It’s brilliant that you’re given a folder with all the exercises to follow – I pretty much use that as my coaching manual now, relying on it to guide how I structure each coaching session.
The follow-up calls with the trainers were helpful too so that you could discuss any of the material that you’d been struggling with when using it with clients in the ‘real world’.
What was the best aspect of the Firework course for you?
Having the handbook and exercises put into a formal structure that you can then use how you want.
I’ve chosen to follow the Firework programme quite strictly in my coaching, as it helps me keep on track, but it’s great to have it all there when I prefer to dip in and out of the exercises and offer a more bespoke approach.
What did you implement in your coaching practice as a result of what you learnt?
At the moment, I only offer a 12 session career change coaching process based on the Firework programme.
I have changed some aspects of it over the two years I’ve been using it, based on my own experiences and client feedback, but the core of it remains the same.
The Firework programme has therefore pretty much become my coaching approach as it stands today.
What has Firework helped you to achieve?
It’s helped me bring a credible structure to my coaching. I can clearly explain to clients what they can expect from each session, what topics will be covered and where they can expect to be by the end of the 12 sessions.
The structure helps keep each session on-track but leaves it open to flexibility should the client require it. It’s given my coaching practice a clear niche and focus.
The structure helps keep each session on-track but leaves it open to flexibility should the client require it.
Who have you taken through the Firework programme?
All of my clients over the past two years.
Mainly this includes people in their 20s and 30s who want to work out what they really want from a career, what ideas they have, and which of these options they want to move forward with in the future.
I’ve taken around 45 clients through the Firework programme over the past two years. They are mainly professionals, along with some graduates who are based in London for the main part, but some are from other countries around the world.
Tell us more about how you typically work with your clients.
I work one to one with clients, both through online and face to face sessions. My programme works just as well face to face as it does online, I think.
I offer a set 12 session coaching package that typically tends to last for three to six months.
How have you built your coaching business? What have been the most effective ways you’ve found clients?
I’ve done this mainly online – a good website with effective SEO and regular blog posts has meant I am now on page one of Google for my main keywords.
As a result, I get most of my new enquiries through my website. The others tend to be referrals from previous clients.
I am now on page one of Google for my main keywords, so I get most of my enquiries through my website.
What results have you helped your clients to achieve?
A real mix.
The majority of clients leave with a concrete new career that they're working towards or have started to already make happen.
Some are looking for reassurance that the idea they’ve had would indeed suit them before taking the plunge.
Others find themselves working towards a new career idea that has come directly out of the coaching process.
By the end of working together, most clients have taken their first few steps towards their new career, which is just fantastic to see and be part of that journey.
What has your return on investment been from taking part in the Firework programme?
I completed my training in October 2017, then returned to work from Maternity Leave in January 2018.
It took me a month to get two clients enrolled, which more than covered the course fees.
I’m earning more now using the Firework structure, working just two days a week than I did working full time as a general Life/Career Coach.
For me, the return on investment has been fantastic!
How do you feel about your career coaching now?
I feel much more confident that my clients are signing up to the coaching process and that they know what to expect from the sessions.
It’s great to know that the format and exercises are based on the experiences and expert knowledge of the Firework team, so my work feels much more credible than it used to.
I’m much more confident in explaining what I offer, and how my coaching process works now too.
I’m much more confident in explaining what I offer, and how my coaching process works.
What resources do you use to support you in your coaching role?
I rely mainly on the Firework programme and associated materials, as well as the Careershifters blog articles, which are a great resource to share with those going through a career change.
I find it incredibly useful to have regular Coaching Supervision and career coaching of my own too.
Who do you feel would benefit most from the Firework career coach training programme? Why?
Existing coaches who want to enhance their skills and up their game when it comes to working with career change clients.
I’d also say it would be great for new coaches who have just finished their training and are trying to work out how to structure their coaching approach, or coaches working with graduates looking to identify their ideal role after leaving education.
What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a Firework licensed coach?
Do it. You don’t have anything to lose.
You’ll learn new content, add new exercises and resources to your toolbox, and you’ll meet some great coaches to connect with.
Alice is a Firework licensed career coach. Having experienced a mini Quarter-Life Crisis in her early 20’s, Alice conducted a piece of academic research (published in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring) on this growing phenomenon to help her understand how coaching could help those in similar situations. In 2016, Alice became a first-time Mum which added further perspective and opportunity to support millennial mums and dads who want to find work they love. You can find out more about Alice at www.alicestapleton.com