Graduate school prepared me for many things clinical but this past year my job prepared me for lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom. Life lessons. Namely: contracts, work environment, and overall satisfaction.
Back in July of 2014, I promptly accepted my first job offer as a clinical fellow in speech language pathology. At that point, I had been out of school for one month and ready to begin working. I moved out of my first over-priced apartment in DC, was sleeping on my mentor’s daughter’s bunk bed, and was so ready to begin the road to supporting myself on my own income! I now consider all the factors and pressure I put on myself at that time, and wish I would have taken my time before signing my name. Simply put, I rushed in and made mistakes.
I decided to write this post to offer some tips on what to do AFTER you rock the interview and receive an offer letter/contract. I made mistakes so you don’t have to!
1. Listen to that little voice! I cannot stress the importance of TRUSTING yourself. That voice rises up when something doesn’t sit well, sound right and cannot be explained to your satisfaction. Heed to your intuition. It normally doesn’t steer you wrong.
2. Let a seasoned professional/mentor read your contract. Find someone who has no ties to the company (unbiased), and has more experience with contracts than you. They can draw you to red flags, and explain language that may elude you so that you understand exactly what you are getting into. Contracts are generally hard for lay people to read, unless you’re versed in lawyer talk. Don’t feel bad asking for translation. If you still don’t understand, ask the hiring manager for clarification until it makes sense to you.
3. If you need time to decide, don’t be pressured into deadlines. Employers use this tactic to try and get you to commit to something before you’re really sold or have had enough time to thoroughly understand the contract. Be wary of any company that gives you a tight deadline (i.e., 2 days) to make a decision on something so very important. Kindly request more time to make a decision, if they seem antsy to lock you in, this should be a red flag. Clearly this is also very important when it comes to waiting on other offers and when you’re trying to consider the pro’s and con’s to particular positions.
4. Speak up for what you want/Develop a Back Bone. Contract negotiations can be a bit intimidating, but in the field of speech language pathology, therapists have an advantage. Currently, there’s a higher demand than licensed and qualified professionals and when there’s an offer in your hand remember that THEY NEED YOU. You, however, have the advantage to choose from plenty of jobs that are available. This mindset helps develop the confidence you need to get exactly what you want.
Other Great resources can be found online:
18 things every SLP Must Know to Choose the Best Job
Interview Tips/Questions (School SLP)
General Pediatric Questions
Preparing for the Job Search (CF)
Here’s to hoping you learn from my lessons!
Happy job hunting!
Post about my CF:
Open Letter to Future CF’s
Contracts and Cupcakes
Limbo: Post Grad Thoughts