In my last post I talked about the steps I took in order to start my job hunt after graduating college (read here!). I really wanted to find a job in my field, but, one thing that was worrying me is that I did not have any experience in psychology!
Throughout college I was not able to do any internships, join clubs, or do many of the things I read about that would help me stand out when applying for a job after college. Instead, I was spending my summers working full-time as a lifeguard, and during the school year, I was working 20+ hours a week and taking 15+ units. I had to work in order to pay my tuition, rent, and other expenses. It was really tough managing those two things, so adding an internship, or volunteering experience would have been pretty much impossible for me.
After coming back home, I was stressing about how I would get a job without any experience. Surprisingly, I was able to get a job as a behavioral therapist. I thought I may have gotten lucky with this job because when I went in for my interview, I found out we were doing a group interview. This frightened a lot and I was sure I was not going to get the job. I mean, how could I? I was going against people who had their Master’s degree, did internships, volunteer work, etc. They pretty much had everything articles say you should have in order to get a job in your field.
Looking back now, I may have gotten lucky but, it wasn’t just luck. I had to find ways to stand out from that group. On that day, I learned a lot about myself and how even though I didn’t have those internships, or whatever, I stood out a lot more than the other people in that room.
Here are a couple of things I learned trying to get this job:
1. Do not undervalue any experience you have.
Yeah, those past years working as a lifeguard has helped me in many ways. I deal with people all the time so it has helped with my communication skills (and I can also speak pretty loud!). I have to greet people, give them the right information about our pool and services, sign up people for classes, swim team, passes, etc. So I have also built those customer service skills.
Teach any kind of lessons? I teach swim lessons, I am the head coach of our rec. level swim team, and teach water fitness. There I have built leadership skills, experience working with children and adults (including those with disabilities), and ability to write daily lesson plans.
These skills helped me stand out because I need a lot of these skills as a behavioral therapist. I work with children, but I also have to work with their parents, I have to do daily data entries, and have to plan how I will be running sessions.
2. Sometimes having any job experience is better than having none.
No, I did not do any internships or any of that during college but I did work throughout my college career. This has helped me in showing employers that I have worked before, know what it is like, and that I also have references that can vouch that I can be reliable, hard-working and always do my best.
3. Even if you don’t have experience in a specific position, look at what skills you have to offer.
A lot of the times, employers are always looking for someone that has experience in that specific position. But I have found out that they are sometimes willing to take you in if you have something to offer. Read the skills that job requires and see how many of those you have, really emphasize those skills to the employer to let them know that you may not have worked in that specific position, but you do have some skills that job requires and they MAY be willing to take you in.
4. Know where you’re applying to!
This is more of an interview tip, but when you’re there talking to the employers, make sure you know about the place. With technology at our hands, go on their websites and know what their mission statements are, and what they’re about. This will show that you did your research and that you really want this job!
I hope you guys find this helpful! Also, remember that I am writing about my own experiences. With that being said, I am not saying this works for everyone and that these are things you SHOULD do. I know how hard it is to find a job now a days, so I wanted to share what I went through and what I learned from it.