Career coaching a passion for Tim Birmingham ’02

Former Purple Knights lacrosse captain leveraged liberal arts for variety of service positions before return to campus with CEC

December 17, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
Tim Birmingham

Tim Birmingham ’02

Tim Birmingham’s value to clients of the Saint Michael’s College Career Education Center, where he has worked since 2018 as a Career Education Coach, is plain to read in the summary statement atop his own clear and focused resume:

“Student-focused career practitioner with 3+ years of experience as a certified career coach and professional resume writer as well as 4+ years as a hiring manager, interviewer, trainer, and management-level coach. Deliver impactful career coaching services, training, and assessments through simplified and actionable guidance. Dedicated to helping students and professionals find their path and navigate a rewarding career.”

Birmingham is a 2002 Saint Michael’s political science graduate and four-year varsity lacrosse player who today helps his career-seeking student clients produce similarly focused clarity in their own resumes – just one aspect of his wide-ranging services for the Center.

Having experienced a Saint Michael’s liberal arts education himself and tasted typical service opportunities while a student, Birmingham well understands what such diverse and well-rounded preparation can mean for career possibilities and motivation. “I graduated with a political science degree, but I took classes in different areas since I tried for a time being a history major, a business major and almost achieved an art minor until a strong connection to an inspiring professor brought me to political science – and I feel the culmination of all that prepared me to enter a career at the time I graduated, which was education.”

Far-ranging adaptability from his college days helped a lot for his first jobs all over Vermont after graduation, centering on behavioral support for youth at risk, including through coaching: first for Burlington’s Howard Center, later at Vermont Academy, then with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps School Program, Northwestern Support Services in Saint Albans, and then Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson, along with later work and certifications as an executive and professional resume writer.

Birmingham grew up in West Windsor, VT, and said he chose Saint Michael’s “because I wanted a smaller size community much like my high school, Kimball Union Academy, and I was also approached by the lacrosse coach at the time about playing at Saint Michael’s, so everything about St. Mike’s fit who I was.”

He played lacrosse for four years and was team captain for two. Another formative experience for him was serving as a Pre-Orientation Weekend leader (POW) as a senior. “Working in a helping capacity has always been at the core of what motivates me,” he said, “and I would say this desire began at Saint Michael’s as a lacrosse captain and as a POW leader and then continued throughout my career.”

During the 15 years that Birmingham spent working in education and mental health, he also completed a master’s degree in education from Plymouth State University. Along the way, he said, he “began to understand my passion for supporting others with their own career growth,” so he started taking courses and certification programs to develop his skills.

“I then heard that Saint Mike’s was looking for a career coach, so I applied and was hired and I have been here since then,” he said. His particular focus in the CEC is supporting students and alumni in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), arts, marketing and communications fields.

“I spend the bulk of my time supporting students and alumni in a one-on-one capacity in all aspects of their career needs,” he said. “In addition to that, I spend time developing and delivering career-related presentations, panels and webinars for students and groups on campus.” The recent pandemic has meant adapting creatively to deliver more services remotely. “I feel we responded well and have come up with a lot of new ideas on how to support students – I don’t think these tools will ever go away,” he said.  For instance, “our cancellation and no show-rates for appointments have declined significantly now that we have the flexibility of so many remote options instead of only in-person meetings.”  Beyond that, he said, some students seem to respond to the coaching process better when there is not the pressure of meeting in person. Most of his work in recent months has been done from home in Jericho, where he lives with his wife, Kati, also a 2002 Saint Michael’s graduate, and two boys, William and Nathan, ages 6 and 3, along with a golden retriever named Murphy.

“I really enjoy getting to know the students and alumni and delivering services that meet their individual needs,” Birmingham said. “What excites me the most is helping people gain a greater understanding of themselves in order to find their true path forward. As a team, we are here to help with every step of the way and it is our hope that each step leads toward a rewarding career.”

He strongly encourages students to “use the CEC resources that are available to you,” noting that “Career paths are rarely linear and are often filled with peaks and valleys. We are here to support you as students and at any point in your careers as alumni.”

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