How Career Coaching Helped Me Weigh My Choices


Sometimes we do crazy things, like go searching for a new job.

And sometimes we do even crazier things, like look for a new job and go back to school.

This was the case for Kristina Galligan, who got admitted to her dream graduate program while in the midst of her job search. With the help of The Muse Career Coaching, she was able to land her ideal role and balance her school load—which we love to call a “win-win” situation.

Here’s her story:

Tell Us About Yourself!

I have eight years of experience in higher education administration, first in admissions and then in career services. I connect employer hiring needs with student and alumni talent, and I create opportunities for learning and growth through counseling, events, and internship and job lead development.

Currently, I’m launching a career development program for alumni at Quinnipiac University, and I’m enrolled in a Master of Arts in Adult Learning and Leadership at Columbia University.

In the past 12 months I got married, moved, and changed jobs. It’s been a fast-paced and busy year!

Tell Us About Your Job Search and Coaching Session

I’m an avid user of The Muse (In my previous role, I often shared the articles with student and alumni job seekers), so I was aware of the Coach Connect program when it launched. When I decided I wanted to use a career coach, it was the first place I thought of.

I ended up meeting with Loren Margolis for a 30-Minute Career Q&A. Aside from her credentials and successful track record with clients, I saw some similarities in our career paths and thought that would add an extra layer of perspective to the coaching.

I booked two sessions. When I booked the first, I’d been searching for a new position within the higher education industry for about a year. I was becoming a bit frustrated with the lack of jobs to apply to at my level and the lengthy hiring process.

In May 2017, I received exciting news that I was admitted to my dream graduate school program at Columbia University’s Teachers College! This news seemed like a game-changer. I contemplated foregoing my stagnant job search and focusing on graduate school full time, but I signed up for a coaching session to help me carefully weigh this decision.

I booked the second session about one month later, as I’d decided to continue my job search and attend graduate school part time in the fall. I interviewed at Quinnipiac University for a newly created, director-level role, and I wanted the job badly!

To reinforce my candidacy after the interview, I prepared an overview of my strategic vision to send to the employer. I wanted someone to review the content to make sure I was clearly conveying my vision. I trusted Loren, and had a great experience the first time, so it seemed like a great idea to use the service again.

What Was Your Favorite Part of the Session?

My favorite part of the experience was the warmth and empathy of the coach. Our first session was held during a really busy time for me at my last job. I didn’t have a private office or the time that day to duck into a cafe, so we conducted the phone session from what was basically a converted utility closet (the adventures of job searching, right?). We laughed about it, and made it work!

What Do You Do as an Alumni Career Development Officer?

I’m currently creating an advisement model, a webinar series, and a calendar of industry-focused events for alumni professional development.

My day involves a lot of research and benchmarking of successful programs at other schools. I frequently meet with campus stakeholders to collaborate on program initiatives. I also create and revise a lot of project plans that help me conceptualize what resources are needed to successfully launch and manage different aspects of my program.

What Do You Like Most About Your Current Job?

I love the creativity I’m able to exercise in this role. This job is also an advancement opportunity for me and is building my leadership capabilities.

Funny enough, I also enjoy that the university is in my hometown! I feel a comfortable sense of familiarity as I drive through town.

How Did You Destress During Your Job Search?

During my job search, my husband and I took a belated honeymoon—an adventure vacation to Iceland. While I know it’s not always possible to get away, it was nice to take a short break from job applications and checking for emails from potential employers. There’s no Wi-Fi at the top of a volcano or under a waterfall!