Articles Five Things I Wish I'd Known: Advice From a Recent Grad (Part Two)

Published on January 1st, 2014


Five Things I Wish I’d Known: Advice From a Recent Grad (Part Two)

This article has been republished from the December 2013 issue of Student Speak.
Please note that this article was originally published when Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) was called the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA).

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. Network early.

Whether you’re a prospective student hoping to study speech-language pathology and audiology, or you’re already in the program and are thinking about landing that first amazing job, you’re going to need outstanding references after graduation. Professors are in the unique position to get to know you and they’ll have a perspective about the kind of clinician you’ll make — if you make an effort to show them! Start by going to office hours today. Meet your professors in person. Share your goals with them and don’t be shy: tell them straight-up that you’re hoping for a great reference at the end of the course. Ask them for advice on how you can be the kind of student they’ll write a glowing reference for.

2. Take risks and try new things.

You need variety in order to appreciate the nuances of what you’re learning. When your clinical educator asks if you want to do something challenging that you’ve never tried before, say yes! Taking risks while you have a safety net under you is a lot easier than taking those risks once you’ve graduated. New skills and experiences can inform how you practice your chosen specialty, so take advantage of opportunities when they arise. It can be incredibly empowering and you might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of achieving. Everything you learn will come back to you, so soak it all in.

3. Get involved.

The best time to start learning how to create a work-life balance is while you’re in school. Join a club, a team, a committee. You’ll make great friends and develop new interests that will help you stand out to future employers. It will also help you learn how to work with all kinds of people, which is great for developing empathy as well as the teamwork skills you’ll need in your career. And you never know when you’ll meet someone across an interview table who shares your passion for Ultimate Frisbee!

4. Budget like a pro.

If you try to live like an S-LP or audiologist while you’re a student, you’ll wind up living like a student when you’re working. I know it’s tough, but you’re in good company now. Be frugal. Find fun and cheap (or free!) activities and watch your budget. You will be blown away by all the unanticipated costs that come up throughout your studies and after you enter the job market: criminal reference checks and vaccines for placements, professional fees, certification, extra workshops, you name it. Start saving now so you’re not caught off-guard when these expenses come up.

5. Look for not-so-secret ways to boost your budget.

And speaking of budgets, don’t forget that financial help is out there! No matter what year you’re in, it’s never too late to hunt down scholarships. I was amazed at how many people thought writing one page was too much work in exchange for a chance to earn a free $1,000. I was thankful for that in the end though, because I swept up a lot of scholarship cash while others were moaning about the effort! Do some research and learn what’s out there. You don’t want to waste your energy stressing about money when you should be focusing on your studies, so put your name forward today because a little extra cash can be a big help.

Melanie thanks her colleagues Shauna Stokely, S-LP(C), PhD candidate Carly Barbon and Melanie Peladeau-Pigeon for contributing their thoughts to this piece.

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