Brava magazine: How a life coach and career counselor help local professionals change course

A job that used to be satisfying feels quite the opposite. A once-stable industry collapses. A big life event—a birth, a divorce, a health crisis—leads to a shift in priorities. These are just a few reasons people consider changing careers.

Brava magazine recently profiled Madison-area professionals who help people at this crossroads. The story featured two experts from UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies: Sybil Pressprich, a counselor in Adult Career and Special Student Services, and Darcy Luoma, lead instructor in the Professional Life Coaching Certificate Program.

Finding meaning and direction

Luoma went through the career-change process herself. When her employer, Sen. Herb Kohl, decided against campaigning for re-election, she had to figure out her next move. With the help of a life coach, she was able to see how her values had evolved and use that information to build a meaningful career.

Life coach Darcy Luoma
Darcy Luoma: ‘I realized that if I kept playing it safe … I would have regrets.’

“I realized that if I kept playing it safe and only focused on my retirement and savings accounts, I would have regrets,” she told Brava.

Impressed by the powerful questions the coach asked, Luoma decided to follow in her footsteps. Today she owns Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting, which provides award-winning life-coaching services and helps professionals develop their leadership skills. She also gives speeches, directs workshops, and consults for companies such as American Girl and Promega.

As a career counselor, Pressprich asks the kinds of questions that pushed Luoma to revamp her professional life. Some of these questions emerge through self-assessments, which help people locate their strengths, prioritize their interests, and search their souls. Other parts of the career-change process include setting goals and a drafting a plan for achieving them.

But these aren’t the most essential components of the transition, according to Pressprich.

Sybil Pressprich is a senior career counselor who helps people facing a job loss.
Sybil Pressprich: Intuition is a valuable guide when changing careers.


“Don’t wait until you are 100 percent clear on what you want to do before taking action,” she told Brava, for waiting and ruminating are “not how you will get clarity.”

Experiences such as informational interviews and volunteer work are the best ways to distill one’s purpose and conquer fear of the unknown, she says. Workshops hosted by Adult Career and Special Student Services are another opportunity to refine goals. Following a hunch can even be a smart move for learning about career options. Intuition is a valuable guide in the search for a good fit.

Other people’s career changes can provide information and inspiration as well. Pressprich has witnessed many over the years, including a jump from engineer to entrepreneur and a leap from state government to music.

ACSSS staff are available to anyone in the community searching for a more meaningful and satisfying career. Email advising@dcs.wisc.edu or call 608-263-6960 to learn more.