Current Job Title:
Speech and Language Pathologist
Wayne Westland Community School District
Describe your current job:
I am a Speech and Language Pathologist in a high school setting in Wayne County, Michigan. I work with kids with autism, cognitive impairments, hearing impairments, and any other language, literacy, or speech-related disorders. I coordinate with the social workers, psychologists, and counselors at the high school level to ensure student success after graduation. I help students make decisions about college and coordinate individualized education plans as well as evaluation and testing of students with disabilities.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with students who are motivated and excited about the next chapter in their lives and helping them transition to college and beyond. It's extremely rewarding to see students with disabilities overcome their challenges and reach their goals after years of hard work. My job is challenging because there are so many students who need help and so little time in the four years of high school. Progress can be slow and lots of patience is required.
What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?
I was very involved on campus when I was an undergraduate and graduate student. I joined and became active in RSOs, held a campus job, and spent time attending events and lectures at WMU. I thought much of this would be great 'resume builders' but it goes beyond that in ways I could've never imagined. I developed skills I didn't realize while working in these organizations and interacting with other students, faculty, and staff at WMU. Particularly, I gained a sense of confidence with my communication skills and this has paid off in spades. So many of my colleagues over the years have had poor confidence in speaking to administrators, parents, and other individuals in education. I regularly interacted with professionals at WMU who treated me like my opinion mattered and was valued, and although I was a young adult at the time, it felt like I was 'practicing' for the time in my career when I would be looked to for answers. Communication skills are central to success in your career and I couldn't have known it then, but WMU gave me the opportunity to express myself and learn how to be an effective leader and individual capable of great things!
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?
If you are pursuing a career in Health and Human Services, spend as much time as you can in the field either through internships, shadowing, or just connecting with professionals in various workplaces. It's important that you are able to visualize what your work environment will look like and have a good understanding of a 'typical day' because many of the careers in College of Health and Human Services (occupational therapy, nursing, speech pathology and audiology, social work, etc.) are filled with options of settings (hospitals, schools, clinics, nursing homes, private practice, etc.) and by the time you are completing your internship towards the end of my bachelors or masters degrees, you should have a good idea of where you'd like to focus. Just because it's not time yet for a formal internship that doesn't mean you can't pursue an informal internship or shadowing opportunity. This is key to discovering where your passion lies and seeing how others in the field navigate their career.