I applied to a career coaching course 2.5 years ago - courtesy of KTH - and wrote a blog post about it back then, in April 2012. I had my last meeting with my career coach a month ago. I could probably have squeezed in that last meeting a year ago, before I went on a 6-month long sabbatical to the US. If so, the course would "only" have taken 1.5 years. Another reason the course has taken so long to finish is because I'm very busy teaching during the first half of the autumn (Aug-Oct) and there has been three of those periods during the three years since I started the course. As it is, I've only met with my coach a handful of times - we've had perhaps upwards to 8 meetings - around once per quarter or so.
For our last meeting I re-read my original application and extensively commented it. That experience was slightly surrealistic - like travelling back int time to see what I thought about back then and how my hopes and concerns have panned out since then. I've become a lot more career-oriented since then. I also try to husband my time better and be more effective at work. My big challenge for this coming spring is to be as productive and to read and write as much I as I did during my sabbatical last spring.
I have had mixed feelings about these meetings. On the one hand, who doesn't love to talk about yourself and about your thoughts and concerns to a sympathetic ear who also sometimes gives you really good feedback? On the other hand, do you really need to get professional help for that - shouldn't this be what your wife or your best friend are for? Still, meeting with my coach regularly and doing the required exercises/homework has helped me clarify both this and that, for example about my own motivation, about goals and means in my professional life, about abilities and character traits I might want to "work with", about long-term vs short-term goals etc.
One of the most interesting exercises of the course was to ask others - friends and colleagues - to write a few paragraphs about "their picture of me" with questions such as; "how would you describe me to others?", "what do you think my strong sides are?" and "what do you think I could develop?". I sent out my request in many different directions and when there is consensus between people from several different contexts and who have never met each, then I guess there is something to it. I guess it's also fair to say that I'm an academic all the way to the end of my fingertips...
Although this blog post is very short and perhaps also slightly vacuous, it's really nice to write it and to create closure in this matter!