Mentors and Coaches: The Keys to Career Success for Young Professionals


Katie Smith

Founder of Careerable

Share a little about yourself!

After college, I came to Indy to join the Orr Fellowship and ExactTarget and spent about seven years there and with Salesforce. I originally grew up on a horse farm in the Chicago suburbs. One day I would love to get back into riding… though I currently have a 3.5 year old and a 10 month old, so any free time I have these days is generally spent napping or thinking about how to get a nap!

Tell us the story behind Careerable.

I knew I wanted something flexible for when it was time to start a family but I wanted it to be work I loved. I had always done a version of career coaching with our company’s new grads and wanted to do that full time. There really weren’t a lot of similar aged role models locally that were already doing this work, so I befriended someone I had followed online for a while that was based in New York. She had just left her full time HR job in fashion to start a millennial focused career coaching practice, and was about six months ahead of me. Her business was a nice template to follow in regards to packaging services, so I went from there. 
Careerable started with 1:1 coaching with individuals, mostly 20-and-30-somethings and has morphed into that along with talent management consulting work with companies (leadership development, team building sessions) and a few ongoing coaching contracts with the Orr Fellowship, Career Contessa and OI Global Partners

What would you say are the biggest benefits of having a mentor or a coach to guide you through your career?

Getting out of your own head (and ultimately your own way) when it comes to career related issues is really important. Sounding boards – whether in the form of a mentor or a coach – can act as a gut check, a new perspective and an accelerant. Learning from mistakes that other people have already made can save you a lot of time in your journey. We each are a collection of our learnings, so it’s prudent to have several teachers along the way.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young professionals today, and how do you believe they can overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge facing young professionals is simply lack of perspective, which is no one’s fault. You can’t have 10 years of experience if you don’t have 10 years of experience. You can only help this by time on the job and learning from others. Mentors are huge here in providing the 10,000 foot view and a “Hey, let me remind you how far you have come and the bigger picture here of what’s going on.”

Ambitious young professionals are eager to make an impact at work and oftentimes are reined in by their companies, because what the company needs at that time is often a different type of work from that individual than they want to contribute. Finding the balance between being a self-starter and paying your dues can be tricky to find, especially since different companies value this differently as well.

What advice would you give to recent college graduates and young professionals who are just starting their careers?

Worry less about crafting a personal brand and more about building relationships one at a time. Spend time making the people above you look good – it typically pays off. Learn how to add a bullet to your resume every six months. If you’re not doing that, you’re probably getting bored. 


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