Graduation from college is an incredible milestone! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could bottle the excitement and enthusiasm we feel at that time? Some therapists obtain work prior to graduation but many wait. I'm often asked for advice from new graduates, and I'd love to share some of my favorite tips with you.
1) Write down your goals and don't forget to DREAM BIG! I encourage you to brainstorm all of the possibilities and then circle which goals to tackle first. I dreamed of beginning my own practice right after graduation. Thus, all of my future career moves were driven by my goal. Take courses relating to your career goals and read as much as you can. Ask questions and follow others with similar goals and dreams.
2) Join your local, state, and national OT organizations. It may seem expensive now but the rewards will be great. Often, organizations grant members unique access to research and other documents. It's also critical to know your state laws -- this is especially true if you are an OT who will eventually be providing supervision for an OTA.
The American Occupational Therapy Association offers invaluable information for clinicians of all experience levels. Here is their resource page.
3) Create business cards and keep them current. Vistaprint (click the link for my discount code) is my favorite website on which to create marketing materials. It's never too soon to market yourself. Adding a cute logo or colorful extra touch may make the difference in catching someone's eye!
4) Networking is one of the most critical activities a new therapist can engage in. Since the OT community is close-knit, knowing who runs local meetings, support groups, and local clinics can benefit you greatly. Don't forget to keep in touch with your school professors and clinical instructors. I ended up seeking a job five years later from a former clinical supervisor! Be sure to maintain a positive and professional attitude as you enter meetings and group events. I encourage you to think of it as though you're always on an interview for a new job! You never know when or where a therapist is seeking a new hire!
Mentoring is another wonderful way to network and gain helpful insight from someone with experience in the field. I mentor many new pediatric OTs and the relationship benefits both parties. Oftentimes, new graduates have new and fresh treatment ides or have completed great research on new topics.
Come to my 5/5 star Pediatric OT Primer course. I offer all courses on-demand so you take them when YOU want! They are two hours in length, I provide a certificate of attendance, and we'll discuss SPD, behavior, goals, treatment strategies and more. See the bottom of this post for details.
5) Create a stellar resume! Remember to include your volunteer and unique skills. Often times, employers prefer to hire therapists with neat and creative skill sets vs. those with only high GPAs. Being a juggler, for instance, says a great deal about your coordination and ability to entertain your pediatric clients!
6) Sign up for magazines and marketing materials from different equipment suppliers. I'm always surprised at the discounts available for exceptional products! Thumbing through catalogues is not only fun, but sparks creativity!
For ALL OTs, teachers, caregivers, and therapists. It's ALL of my favorite tips, tricks, and activities in one book!
7) Of course, you'll want to have a great OT library! Start with our award-winning books as they're great for parents, therapists, teachers, etc. Including information on SPD, fine & gross motor, school, dyslexia, ADHD, behavior, transition, ADLs, and so much more! Each diagnosis/issue is explained thoroughly and is followed by resources and thousands of activities you can do to remediate and help children who need extra help.
There are many super books written by OTs! Follow my blog for more FREE information about blogs, books, and resources.
8) Use your resources such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Here are more handouts for new graduates about testing, certification, and more here.
Some helpful OT groups for pediatrics on Facebook and on the web:
9) Obtain malpractice insurance. Many employers cover general liability of equipment and/or staff but I always recommend purchasing your own coverage. Pricing is dependent on full or part-time employment and experience. You worked HARD for your education, licensure, and certification, so protect it.
**I receive no compensation from either insurance company.
Pediatric OT Primer & Executive Function Courses!
For new OTs or veteran therapists who are looking to brush up on behavior, IEPs, goals, executive function skills, and OT activities for peds.
2 hour webinars packed with information about school topics. Answers to your FAQ about IEPs, Sensory Processing Disorder, Behavior, Fine and Gross Motor, Core Muscles, Goal Setting, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, new research & info. on mindfulness and weighted blankets!
**CEU CERTIFICATE will be provided, check your state to ensure they accept the CEU as each state differs**