Dalia Lourenço found herself in Luanda, the capitol of Angola on the west coast of Africa. She had a contract with the United Nations to help with communications for vaccination programs. One was for an ongoing battle against polio. She found a man who had polio and began to interview him. Dalia thought if he could explain what a terrible disease polio is then people would be more likely to get vaccinated.
“But he was such a positive person,” Dalia says with a smile. “I could not get him to say anything negative about his disease. He wouldn’t complain. He wouldn’t say get vaccinated so you don’t end up like me. He was just so positive about life. And he was using that positivity to mobilize Angolans to get vaccinated.”
No wonder Dalia tells that story. Positivity is a cornerstone of her life these days. She helps young people rediscover and pursue their dream jobs or careers through her training program called Accelerate Your Ambitions. She calls herself a “Make It Happen” coach.
“Some of them have such amazing dreams,” says Dalia, describing the people who come to her. “They want to make a difference. They want to make the world more environmentally friendly, get people out of poverty. But they feel pushed down and can’t get started. They keep being told they have no experience.”
Dalia works with them to find the skill or trait that can help them do what they truly want to do.
“People are stuck in old-style job hunting techniques. They have their LinkedIn profile and they send out their CVs. But their real value, what they bring is being lost. I talk with them and find out what they really have to offer, and we work with that.”
A lot of that is about how interrelated everything is. And that is something she learned at King’s in the Foundation Year Program (FYP). She says she realized you can’t separate out art from history, science from culture. In the world of career coaching that means skills in one area are assets in another. Knowledge of one thing means understanding of another.
Dalia acquired her own skills as a career coach partly through research, including hundreds of interviews with professionals and partly through life and job experience. After King’s she did a Master’s degree in International Journalism at City University in London, UK. Then she hit the workforce in a way typical to the gig economy–she got contract after contract. She worked for The United Nations, the European Commission and WHO. It was, and continues to be, great work but as a career? She chose to embrace the variety and challenge herself to improve her negotiation skills and job seeking strategies after every contract.
“I haven’t had very secure jobs, nor did I have mentors,” Dalia explains. “So, as a result, it has made me take control of my own career. If I want something to happen, I have to make it happen.”
And that’s why Dalia started Accelerate Your Ambitions. She wanted to help others discover what she had discovered so they could design their own career paths and stop wasting time fighting for unpaid internships or being stuck in positions where they feel unfulfilled and wondering ‘is this it?’. She has advice for students today.
“People shouldn’t limit themselves. Students are motivated, but they are insecure. Don’t settle on what you think is just realistic. Don’t hold back on your dreams.”