Getting hired in this economy of cutbacks presents its challenges for graduates. Five happily employed recent graduates of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology returned for a panel discussion on April 7 to share their "think out of the box" tips with students who are looking for employment.
John Fowler, from left, Peter Baker, Touwanna Edwards and Angie Arreola.
Here is some advice they had to offer:
Promote your specialized knowledge or niche as a way to set yourself apart from other candidates
Elizabeth Stranzl-Jones, a June '09 grad in school psychology, stressed her work with diverse populations when she interviewed for her current job as a school psychologist at Harper High School in the Chicago Public Schools system. For Angie Arreola, M.A. Forensic Psychology '08, specialized knowledge of the court system helped her get a position with the DuPage County Juvenile Probation Department as a Probation Behavioral Health Services officer.
Start early and be persistent
Peter Baker, ('08) said he applied to 63 jobs after he graduated. John Fowler, M.A.'09 in I/O psychology, started job-searching in January before his graduation last June.
Network and use relevant buzzwords
Touwanna Edwards, Psy.D. '05, a psychology professor at Lewis University, acknowledged that grads might have to accept a job that doesn't pay as much as they'd like. "But get your foot in the door, meet key people, try to learn and use the buzzwords," she said. "I've been on search committees, and the way we weed out candidates is if their application wasn't complete or there were mistakes-no matter how good the candidate. Use the wording in the job listings."
Get in the door, look for promotion opportunities
Arreola started as a probation officer in the DuPage County court system, then three months later, someone left her department and she applied for and got a promotion. The new post was exactly what she wanted-a specialized caseload working with juvenile delinquents.
"It's unrealistic to expect your dream job right out of school," she said. "In talking with a lot of people, they don't find that dream job until their second or third position."
Join associations, use social media, pursue professional development
"The more licenses you have, the better," said Edwards, adding she goes to as many free CEU workshops as possible and lets the credits add up.
You're already ahead of the curve
Baker said two of the people who work for him are TCSPP graduates, and they're farther along in their counseling skills than others.
"They seem to get it more," he said. "The clinical foundation here is very good."
Arreola echoed that idea. "You'll find something. You've got a leg up on the competition because of The Chicago School," she said.