I thought it was time to add a new feature to my blog and thought I'd reach out and let fellow counselors talk about their experiences in the counseling field. After all, blogging is for connecting with others and sharing experiences and ideas. So welcome to our first From A Fellow Counselor guest spot. With us here is Allie Daniels, a recent school counselor graduate and current school counselor job seeker. Allie shares with us today her tips for looking for a job and not getting discouraged.
1. Unless Someone like you Cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the rigorous course load, the immense amount of research and data-driven programming, the internships and the state requirements to become a licensed School Counselor. It has been a rough road for you, whether you’ve had difficulties in your classes, personal lives or even other aspects of your career--you have achieved a Master’s Degree and also are at the beginning of a career where you will touch the lives of hundreds--or maybe even thousands of children and their families.
2. “You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!”
Now begins the difficult challenge of finding a job! I know first hand what a hurdle this can be--as I am currently seeking employment after recently graduating in May of 2013. As school counselors, we are trained in career counseling, exploration and readiness--and yet we sometimes forget to use our skills! This task will be extremely daunting and exhausting at times. Personally, I have applied to over 80 school-based and higher education counseling positions and have only had 3 scheduled interviews. It takes extreme perseverance and motivation to continue to search for jobs, but its’ important to remember that in the end it will be extremely worth it. Check the state websites daily, check common and local school websites daily, be the applicant who writes personalized cover letters and the person who also mails a paper copy in addition to the electronic copy! It may be exhausting to constantly be printing out, creating and mailing personalized applications...but eventually--someone will notice that your perseverance stands out.
3. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.
You’ve landed the interview now, congratulations! Now the real work begins for you! First, research the school and district as much as you can. Research the school’s report card that is posted on the state’s website. Scout out the school’s website and browse the staff directory--see if you are lucky enough to know someone there to speak with before the interview! Prepare your materials, have your resumes, cover letters, letters of recommendations, copies of certificates and other important paper documents readily printed and ready to go in a professional looking portfolio or folder the day before your interview. If you have any other portfolios or materials you plan to bring, organize them the day before your interview as well. You want to reduce the amount of detail-oriented stress as much as possible for your interview day. As many other career readiness websites will tell you, prepare your outfit the day before, plan out your routes, get gas in your car and make the day of the interview the easiest day possible for you. You will be nervous, but you should also be excited!
4. Sometimes the Questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
One of the things many new graduates fear the most is the unknown. Going into an interview is a very stressful situation for anyone. Not knowing how many people or who will be in attendance, to not knowing the school setting to being unaware of the types of questions can make anyone feel anxious. The best way to prepare for this situation is by researching the school and trying to discover what they believe would be the perfect candidate. Talk with your fellow counseling friends and teachers, ask their opinions and practice and review common school counseling questions and answers online. If you get stuck in an interview question, remember that you can always (and should always) follow up with the interviewers in your thank you e-mail. You can even suggest that you can research the information for them and email it to them at a later date. One of the best answers you can give for not knowing a question is that you will collaborate with your other fellow counselors and decide what the best course of action may be! Altough you will be anxious, try not to be! You have to remind yourself that out of ALL of those applications, YOU were chosen for an interview! You should be beaming with pride at this accomplishment and your preparedness for the interview!
5. And will you succeed? Yes indeed, Yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!
When you are going in for your interviews, remember to show them what a great candidate you are! Always follow up after the interviews with a personalized thank you letter and try to focus on the excellent job you did at the interview. Keep a record of who you interviewed with and try to write down any questions you had a hard time with at the interviews.
This entire process is difficult and emotionally draining. Remember to take care of yourself and most importantly to be PROUD of yourself for your amazing accomplishments! It will be difficult to continuously motivate yourself to keep trying and pushing forward, but remind yourself of what an excellent counselor you will be someday and know that there is the perfect placement for you out there.
My last piece of advice to you is to remember that sometimes it’s hard to put into perspective how much we as school counselors have to be proud of ourselves--when our sole purpose and job is to inspire and motivate others. So take a moment today and read an inspiring Dr. Seuss book, practice your favorite activities and take a break to remind yourself that at the end of the day-- you are going to be an amazing counselor that will touch the lives of so many in the future.
For any other tips, counseling lesson plans, community resources, ideas, publications and free downloads, please feel free to stop by and visit me over at my blog, The Creative School Counselor! Good Luck to you and be sure to keep in touch!
Resources and Links:
1. ASCA Job Search Skills for the School Counselor & Interview Questions http://www.schoolcounselor.org/files/JobTips.pdf
2. National School Job Postings and Listings
3. Example School Counseling Job Search Excel Sheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Anbfi4yew13QdDdNNGtBbUthY25XY2FOc0RDakdkM0E#gid=0
Here's a picture of Allie. Thanks Allie for your post.
If you are a reader and have an interesting story to tell or an idea you would like to share let me know. Always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org