Published on May 15th, 20140
Five Things I Wish I’d Known: Advice From a Recent Grad (Part Three)This article has been republished from the March 2014 issue of Student Speak.
Melanie Moore Tapson, S-LP(C), is a former SAC National Student Advisor (NSA) and recent graduate of Dalhousie’s S-LP program. In this three-part series, Melanie offers her top tips for students:
1. Keep in touch.
Your classmates are going to be your future colleagues — and your best resources. Nurture your professional relationships and new friendships. Don’t burn any bridges. You’ll want people you can call when you have a client who presents with something you haven’t had a lot of experience with.
2. Try before you buy.
Student fees for professional organizations are a heck of a lot cheaper than full member fees. While you still can, consider joining associations — SAC of course, but also your provincial or territorial association and other organizations — for the super discounted student rate. Sometimes, it’s actually free! Many organizations even offer discounts for the first full year(s) to anyone who was a student member. This is a great way to find out which ones are worth the investment, and an opportunity to network with people who are already working where you want to be!
3. Connect online.
Join a listserv, a LinkedIn discussion group, NaHSSA, NSSLHA, Facebook groups, special interest groups and anything that will help you network, connect, discuss, ask, observe, participate and learn more about what the job (and life in general) looks like after grad school. I can’t tell you how much getting involved has made a difference in in my knowledge and ability to contribute. Not to mention the confidence it gives you and the community you’re part of!
4. Be flexible.
The job market is just as competitive as getting into grad school. Know that if you land a coveted position, you may get the location or the population that you love, but you may not get both. Your best bet is to be flexible to move where the opportunities lie, or take the initiative and create your own work. Figure out what’s most important to you, and know that on your path to your dream job, every opportunity is a learning experience. You never know what you’re going to love and you can’t predict how this whole journey will change you. Be prepared, be flexible and be creative.
5. Put together a draft CV or portfolio.
It’s never too early! Ask yourself: what sets me apart? What will make me stand out to employers in a sea of new grads with the same degree? Think about that and build on it throughout your program. Don’t be so focused on marks that you forget about developing skills and trying new things. This is no time for sitting on your haunches. Ask yourself why you want this so badly — and start working towards your dream job now. And above all else … enjoy yourself!
Melanie thanks her colleagues Shauna Stokely, S-LP(C), PhD candidate Carly Barbon and Melanie Peladeau-Pigeon for contributing their thoughts to this piece.