Let me start by saying I am in no way an expert in job finding, interviewing, or professional counseling. This is just what I have learned from my own experiences and those of SLP’s I know.
Medical placements for externships or finding that good CFY position in a medical setting can be difficult. There is a lot of competition and many places do not or can not accept students or clinical fellows. Finding a job in the medical side of SLP can be close to impossible if you didn’t get experience in a medical setting in your externships. Plus, trust me, you do not want to be on your own in a medical setting if you haven’t had good mentorship before you start your job.
So first thing: How to get that externship?
In general, most SLP graduate students are very invested in the program and will all probably get straight A’s. At least this was the experience in my grad school. So good grades aren’t really going to do it. You need to find other ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd and show your interest. If you were interviewing two people for the same job, wouldn’t you probably choose the person that has done more in the field?
- Job Shadows- For me as a student, it was intimidating to reach out to practicing SLP’s and schedule a shadow. I was definitely hesitant to reach out because I thought maybe I was bothering people. I was wrong. I would guess that no one gets into this profession because they don’t like helping people. Probably the opposite. Personally, I love having students around. I am always happy to share what I do. So my advice, quit worrying and just make the call. Make sure you can be as flexible as possible with scheduling. This will help out whoever you are shadowing because in general in the medical side of SLP, things can be a little (or a lot) unpredictable.
- Don’t discount that part time job you have while you’re in school or during summers. Just because it might not be directly related to the field of SLP, there will be some skills you need for that job that would make you more successful in the externship. For example, are you a server in a restaurant? Great! That means you have multitasking skills, customer service skills, and experience handling conflict. (We all know there will be that one person who regardless of what you do, they just aren’t going to be happy).
- Ask questions! When students ask me questions about what I do, that to me shows the greatest interest. You actually care and are interested in what I do beside just having something to add to your resume. One of the worst ways you can portray yourself is disinterested.
- When searching for an externship, don’t be afraid just to ask. Maybe they don’t list the positions online. I mean it can’t hurt and it again shows your interest.
Next time I’ll dive in more about advice transitioning into that coveted CFY position. Until then..