Does anyone else feel like they are running around with a shiny resume in hand, showcasing your greatest accomplishments and fancy degree, yelling, “Hire me! Hire me! Pretty please! Someone hire me!” But we just graduated! We never thought we’d see the day where we are finally done with school, forever!
As soon as the rose-colored glasses of graduation celebration are removed, and we are bombarded with more studying for boards, we get hit with the reality of needing to land that first job. Why would anyone want to hire someone with no experience? Someone who they have to train, mentor, and supervise? Well, hold it right there, Negative Nancy! Because today we are exploring the many reasons why hiring a new grad is actually awesome!
1. New Grad OTs are Motivated
Our level of motivation and excitement likely stems from multiple places, but no matter the source we are pumped to finally be done with school and get hands-on experience. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can help people, and that’s why we want to be OTs anyways, right?
We also have Mt. Everest-sized mountain of debt that we need to pay off, and we are ready to hit the ground running, work hard, and chip away at those loans.
2. New Grads are Malleable
Sure, we lack experience, but this can be a huge positive to employers. We are a blank canvas for them to create what they need and want for their team! Also, when feeling intimidated while working with experienced and talented OTs, remember: your supervisor/boss/colleague was once a new grad too! Ask questions, show that you care to learn, and they will happily help you get your bearings.
3. New Grads are up to Date on Evidence-Based Practice
We’ve only just left the academic arena, and that means that we’ve studied the most recent research in the field and have likely worked directly with professors contributing to that research. This benefits the hiring organization in a few ways:
1) New grads can use the latest and most up-to-date information to guide their interventions
2) New grads can bring the latest research and practice into the facility and challenge older, out-of-date, or unsupported interventions
This can boost the amount of evidence-based practice being used by an OT team as a whole which ultimately promotes ethical practice standards set by the AOTA.
4. New Grads are Generalists
It’s often said during our time in school that when we graduate, we will “know a little bit about a lot of things.” At this point in our career, we tend to be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of OT. This can be great for settings such as inpatient rehab, acute care, or skilled nursing because we often treat patients with many comorbidities and need to support participation in occupation. We can help improve independence and tolerance of ADL, grade tasks according to cognitive needs, and provide a prefab brace or custom splint for OA or carpal tunnel, just to name a few!
5. Millennials are Resourceful and Innovative
Of course, not all new grads are millennials, but a big chunk of us are! Millennials have been left with a particularly challenging economic situation (i.e. we have tons of student debt, we are paid minimum wage with a bachelor’s degree, and won’t be able to buy a house until we’ve lived for free in our parents' basement for 6 years while working full-time. Kidding! Maybe...). But how is this relevant or helpful to new grads trying to land a job?
In order to successfully navigate our careers and be successful in our young-adult lives, we have learned ways of finding and using our resources to create our own paths if need be. Being resourceful and innovative is a great quality to have in an employee. Not only will you be able to problem-solve with, advocate for, and empower your patients, but you will also be able to innovate, create, and improve your facility. As OTs, we love using our unique perspective, and great things happen when you step out of your comfort zone to challenge the status quo!
6. Entry Level Salary
This is a huge perk for employers! By hiring a new grad, they will save money! Being a newbie in the field, we understand that our starting wage will be lower than that of an experienced OT. There are jobs and settings that would not be appropriate for a new grad, but for jobs that are, paying an entry-level salary for a new OT means saving the employer money and still obtaining a quality therapist. That shouldn’t ever mean being paid less than you’re worth though. If you need help navigating the dreaded salary conversation during an interview we’re here to help!
7. New Grads are Available
New grads are less likely to have a spouse and/or children, so they can be more flexible and willing to work odd shifts, hours, and schedules. This can be a huge bonus to hiring a new grad, especially in a facility that has therapists with families and other employees that need to work a more traditional work schedule. If you’re ready and willing to work something like Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-7pm, you’ll be even more attractive to prospective employers.
8. Facilities Have First Dibs on You if You’re Pursuing a Specialty
This comes in during fellowships or times where a new grad is being hired with the understanding that they will pursue a specialty and gain new credentials in the future. There’s a mutual understanding that your clinic will support you and give you this opportunity as a new grad, and when you obtain your new specialization (e.g. CHT), they will benefit from your specialty. This is also a bonus because the facility will have established a good relationship with you by the time you become specialized. It’s a win-win for everyone.
9. New Grads in the Field Helps OT Grow
Hiring new grads is also essential because it supports the industry. Hiring new grads, mentoring new grads, and supporting new grads is ultimately supporting the growth and success of our profession! And having new grads who are committed to lifelong learning and continuing education is equally as important for that growth. It’s a powerful, pay-it-forward type of story: the leaders of the field are shaping and educating the new generation in preparation for passing the baton.
Being a new grad isn’t easy. We are faced with many unknowns, some tribulation, and the stress of feeling like we aren’t quite ready to be on our own. However, instead of thinking about what we lack, let’s reframe our mindset and remember all that we do have. All of our future colleagues were new grads at one time or another, and we can learn more by getting started and working alongside them! We are valuable, powerful, excited, and can genuinely impact the OT world. So, go get ‘em, new grads!