Tag Archives: employment

I Got a Job!

I got the job! After lots of back and forth emails, phone calls, and missed phone calls, my background check finally went through and I received notice that I have officially been extended a job offer. And…I accepted! I will not pretend that this job is some kind of godsend or fairy tale. However,  I strongly believe that it is an excellent match to both my experience and interests. Without giving too much away for the sake of anonymity, I’ll tell you a little bit about my brand spanking new job. (I still have to figure out how confidentiality at the job works, but it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be able to say much about it here.)

The Job: I will be a dorm counselor at a residential school for severely emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. The school has a prestigious reputation within the mental health community for its effective therapeutic techniques in helping students grow and meet normal developmental benchmarks. Students are sent to the school with psychological issues that run the gamut from autism to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia (and a lot in between). Typically, students are sent to the school because the resources available to them at home and their traditional school are not enough to meet their diverse needs.

As a dormitory counselor, I play a vital part in successfully carrying out each student’s individual treatment plan. A member of the treatment team and the supportive therapeutic community, I monitor each student’s level of functioning and I collect data on their progress. In addition to planning therapeutic recreational activities, I also will utilize my counseling skills to provide support for all students and to promote pro-social problem-solving skills. When necessary, I will use nonviolent physical restraint methods that I will learn from my certification in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention to ensure everyone’s safety.

The school has students in elementary school and students in high school; they are separated into different dorms based on age and gender. This year, I will be working with the younger elementary-aged boys. The hours are irregular, which means that nothing is sacred. Not weekends, not nights, not Christmas–nothing. These kids need support 24/7 and that does not mesh well with a Monday-Friday 9-5 job. While I’ll only officially work 40 hours, there will be overtime for things like birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries (a way to celebrate the anniversaries of when students were first admitted to the school).

I am ready to delve into this adventure headfirst! I have already started brainstorming different activities I can lead with the students and I have started looking up research articles on the treatment the school follows. Now it’s time for the next chapter in my life. I have a college degree and I’m about to go use it. It’s an exciting time to be 23 and alive. 🙂

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The Job Search: What I Have Learned So Far

In February, I finished student teaching in Appleton, Wisconsin and I moved back home to the Chicagoland area. For the next two months, I worked on paperwork to become a substitute teacher, as well as on a (pretty darn awesome) teaching portfolio. Between February and now, I also aced the two education exams in Illinois and successfully substitute taught at my old high school without being too weirded out. However, do you know what I still don’t have in hand? A job! I have been actively searching for a job since April and, although I am still on the prowl, I certainly have learned a thing or two along the way. Hopefully my advice will have a bit more credence after I have sealed the deal on a job for the upcoming year.

1. Network! It does not take very long in the job application process before you realize that, as frustrating as it may be, the majority of jobs are secured as a result of connections. Use. Your. Connections. I cannot stress this enough. Make sure everyone you know is aware that you are seeking a job in a certain field. Anyone could be the person who gets your resume on top of the pile or to even get an interview. For example, just because your mom’s close friend is a pharmacist does not mean that her brother is not the assistant principal at a school where you applied. Don’t think you’re above using your connections to get an interview; everyone is doing it! If you feel like you’ve exhausted the connections you already have (or perhaps you’re new to the neighborhood and you don’t know anyone yet), I recommend getting involved in volunteering, a church group, an intramural sports team, or anything that will help you meet lots of new people.

2. Proofread your applications. Toward the beginning of the job search process, I read over a few applications I sent out and grimaced that I was missing a word in one of the sentences I’d written. D’oh! If your application initially stands out from the rest, but then whoever is reading the application notices a typo, then that’s an easy surefire way to get your resume tossed out. From what I’ve been told, there is often such a volume of applications that the hiring people need to find reasons to eliminate you from the process; a typo is an easy way to lose (especially for someone looking for an English teaching job, like me)!

3. Apply to as many jobs as you can find within a certain distance. So, let’s say you’re looking for jobs as a secretary and you live in Seattle. Decide how far you are willing to commute for a job, then search for and then apply to every secretary job you can find that is within that radius. Statistically speaking, the more applications you send out, the more of a chance you have in getting a job. The less picky you are in terms of job description and distance from home, the more likely it will be that you’ll get more interviews and/or offers.

4. Do not apply to a job that you would not accept. Now, I know it may be tempting to apply for lots and lots of jobs, some of which may not be exactly what you’re looking for. I know you want to have as many options as possible. However, you should also consider before applying if you would accept a position if offered one. What if that job is the only one that makes an offer? Would you take it? This is very important when considering; you don’t want to waste time applying to something that you could not really see yourself doing.

5. Ask relevant questions to the employer at the interview. Congratulations! You got an interview. Even though you may feel that this interview is all about the potential employer sending you through the wringer, you should take the opportunity to interview them, too. There are several different types of questions you can ask, including questions that show you did your research on the company,

6. Send a thank you letter immediately after the interview. This one doesn’t require much explanation. It’s a great to touch base with the person or people with whom you interviewed to thank them for taking the time out to interview you. You can also take this opportunity to remind them of the reasons why you would be an excellent match for the job.

7. Don’t miss that phone call! I am ashamed to say that during my job search process so far, I have missed a whopping three calls from potential employers. Once I was walking around the cacophonous city of Chicago, once I was in the bathroom, and once I was asleep. Regardless of the reason, you should do everything in your power not to miss those calls, even if it means bringing your phone to the bathroom with you. Answering the phone shows that you are interested and eager; it will also save the time for the person who is in charge of making those calls.

8. Don’t get discouraged. Depending on your approach to the job search process, this could be one of the most difficult points on the list. About two months into the job search process when I had not gotten a single response from an employer (not even an email to say that a different candidate had been selected), I had a brief period of time when I felt helpless. My self-efficacy was at an all-time low and I couldn’t bring myself to put another three-hour stint into an application. But, you know what? I slapped myself (figuratively), got out of my funk, and continued to apply. Just keep trying. Never give up. You never know when that follow-up email or phone call could actually produce an interview!

Good luck, job seekers!