When do we become professionals?
Coaching in Learning Lab was my first actual position where I was called a coach. I thought this was my time to put the things I’ve learned into practice and see if coaching is something I’d like to do more. And of course, also see what I can actually do and get feedback.
During Learning Lab and now afterwards I’ve started to think what makes us qualified to be a coach – or do anything else, when do we become professionals? This was also a question we needed to answer during the first days of Learning Lab. We were coaching multidisciplinary teams including students on various fields and with many nationalities. In our coaches’ team there were four coaches who were team entrepreneurs and second year students at TAMK Proakatemia (plus two other coaches and supporting team). So, an obvious question from the students we were coaching was: what makes you qualified to coach our teams (if you are students as well)?
First, let’s talk a little about team learning. Learning Lab is a six-week program that utilizes teamwork and team learning. For most students this is an alien concept. We all know “group work” where we get a mandatory group assignment and we agree on who does what and everyone (or some) do their part on their own. The result is usually individual work gathered together. Teamwork is a step further. Ideally when we work in teams we work together towards a common goal, we get multiple point of views, more volume, more information and we keep everyone on a loop what’s happening and when. And team learning is something that happens when we have a dialogue. We share our thoughts, educate each other and go deeper into a subject by thinking together.
Our studies at TAMK Proakatemia are based on team learning. After basic studies (economics, entrepreneurial law, etc.) we don’t have traditional courses. We have training sessions twice a week. On training sessions we have dialogue about a subject we have decided as a team we need to have. We might have a speaker there or we read about the subject beforehand and we educate each other and think together, think deeper, share our experiences. We also do this kind of sharing outside of our training sessions so that we can make the most of our journey at Proakatemia.
Back to being a qualified team coach for Learning Lab. As we already know and have experience on how team learning works, we have an advantage. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every team entrepreneur from Proakatemia would be a suitable coach. But I think that every team entrepreneur that applies for the Learning Lab coaching position is somewhat suitable. This means you have already thought about coaching and gathered some pointers about coaching and team learning to your toolbox and you are willing to use them. You have some theory and some experience on coaching (as we coach each other on a daily basis as well) and you have the need to put it into practice.
I could also list some personal merits or education to really “prove” that me coaching in a Learning Lab is a good thing. But that is not the point of this post. The point is the question in hand – what makes us qualified, when do we become professionals? Is it an education or degree, is it experience or mindset? If you are a student or started out in a job, when is that point you can call yourself a) qualified, b) professional or c) an expert? Someone always knows more about your subject than you. And someone always knows less. It’s not a straight line. As entrepreneurs (and why not as employees as well) we need to know how to create value and we need to know how to show our professional skill.
I think that everyone of us should take a moment from time to time to think. Am I qualified to do what I do? Am I a professional? If so, what makes me one? And if I’m not, do I need or want to be? Why am I in this position?
Or what do you think?