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I Graduated! Now What?

By Amy Nielsen

I did it! I graduated! I am now a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach!

It was a bit surreal watching my graduation ceremony online on my laptop in my pj’s on the couch with the nightly news in the background and my kids shrieking in the tub. I suppose I could have made more of an occasion of it. Had a glass of wine, perhaps. But it was broadcast late after a long day. In fact, I almost missed it. I did get a selfie with my name on the screen though.

So, now what?

Last time I did this I had a gig lined up through my department chair. It was part of the perk of working with a faculty active in the business we were studying. They helped us network into our first post-graduation positions. Mine was a little summer stock theater in a tourist laden, seaside town in Massachusetts. I had the summer to figure out where I needed to be and what the next step to get there was.

Online school is very different. We have been practicing our mad skills for the last year on each other and honestly anyone who would sit still long enough. We have all of the tools to run out of the box programs; flyers, notes, handouts and all. I even have a fee schedule mapped out. I know how to present myself as a coach.

What I don’t have this time around is the personal introductions that carry the weight of another person’s sense of you. I have to figure out how to present myself, introduce myself. Cold call to a certain extent.

So, again, now what?

My dilemma is that I really don’t want to do one-on-one coaching. It’s the one thing I really learned about myself while I was working my way through this program. I like to teach. The curriculum didn’t really get into so much about how to present oneself as an educator.

I had fallen into the trap of believing that all teachers need to hold advanced degrees in order to be taken seriously. That if I were to be working with the public, I needed a Master’s degree of some sort. I have since come to the conclusion that my fear of success is speaking. That if I just get another degree, then I’ll be ready and credentialed enough to teach.

I am not going to get another degree. I don’t need one. What I need is a way to present my current certifications and credentials clearly and concisely in a way that makes sense. My degrees and certifications are in such wide ranging fields, I need a way to tie them all together.

So,now what?

I began reading every flyer posted in our library, community center, super market and fitness center to see who is offering what kinds of classes. What are they charging? Where are they hosting their classes? What kinds of classes are being held at what locations?

I spoke to the desk staff at the businesses, often times with flyer in had saying, “I’d like to offer my class in your location using this same kind of structure of days, times and fees. How do I go about setting that up with your organization?” The range of answers has been eye opening.

I asked what kinds of teachers and educators use the spaces that are available in our community. I was sure to ask what kinds of classes people have been asking for that are not currently being offered.

In my travels both around town and around the internet, I have been collecting flyers and trifolds that I like or not, so I have some examples to work with as I design my own informational materials. Some of the most interesting pieces of text on them are the short biographies the educators write.

You know, the blurb about the presenter, or blogger, or lecturer, at the bottom back cover of the trifold flyer. That little paragraph in the about me tab.  The best ones are part curriculum vitae, part life story, and part personal philosophy. I really feel like a good one gives me a sense of not only the person’s identity as they see themselves, but also of their voice. I have come to believe that a well written introductory biography is essential.

So, now what?

Since writing a short introductory biography is part of the assignments for the meditation certification I am almost finished with anyway, this seemed like a good place to start my search to condense and solidify what I do and who I am.

As I work my way through the few classes and workshops I have on the calendar already, I will also be honing this little, about me paragraph. I have so much that I like to teach, it is hard not to become overwhelming to a reader.

So, now, this is what.

Now, I take every opportunity to teach something to someone that falls in line with what I love. I will have flop days, I will have days where no one shows up. Every teaching opportunity will bring another chance to work out the right words to describe how I can touch your life and gift you with a new view of yourself.  I am not the sum of my certificates plus my degrees. I am an educator with lots of interesting ideas to bat around together.

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