Well, it’s that time of year. Students everywhere recently celebrated graduation, breathed a huge sigh of relief about finishing theses, then partied after passing comps and licensure exams. Whew! All done. Right?
Nope! Your journey as a new audiologist or speech-language pathologist begins now. How thrilling is that? You chose a field with so much opportunity. However, many grads choose the population and setting where they want to work and consider career planning done. But there’s more …
To create your career roadmap, think about these three questions:
- Where do you want to go? Not just: “Where do I want to go right now?” Think about where you see yourself in five or 10 years. What do you want to do down the road? Do you want to grow in a particular setting, or do you see yourself building experience then moving to a different setting? For example, you might choose to work in an outpatient private clinic to gain experience and understand more about business as a springboard to opening your own private practice.
- What tools do you already possess and what do you need to help build future skills? Think about this in terms of your clinical skills as well as your professional skills. Are there areas in which you’d like to grow clinically or eventually specialize? If so, how will you obtain that experience? Think about what continuing education courses you can take. Look objectively at your communication skills, emotional intelligence, leadership skills and organizational abilities, to name a few. Which areas are your strengths? Where do you need to grow? If you have trouble evaluating yourself in this way, ask someone you trust to provide you with some perspective.
- Who can help? Find people to mentor and guide you. Maybe choose a colleague or two in your workplace whom you admire professionally. Pick their brains about how they developed their career paths. Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice. Most experienced clinicians want to share experiences and guide new colleagues. We were once were you were—just a little longer ago! In addition, your state association and ASHA offer great avenues for connecting with others in similar settings. Get involved!
During this time, stay flexible. Things change and that’s OK. Creating a career roadmap provides a framework, but you might put the pieces together in a different order once you start building. So congratulations to you on your graduation—relish this exciting time in your life and the start of a new adventure. Enjoy the ride!
Suzanne Bonifert, MS, CCC-SLP, manages rehabilitation services at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth, Texas. She frequently mentors and helps guide new clinicians. firstname.lastname@example.org