Being a new graduate in any field can be scary, especially when you are an occupational therapist. Most desk jobs just don’t carry the responsibility that comes with improving someone’s life. While this is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an occupational therapist, it can also be one of the most daunting. One way to smooth some of the turbulent waves that come with your first few years in practice is to find good support. This can come in many forms and be specific to the individual, but one thing most therapists can agree on is that mentorship plays a large role in developing a strong foundation for your career.
The Purpose of Mentorship
The difference between successful occupational therapists and therapists who feel as if they don’t have direct goals is mentorship. Speaking with a mentor is a fantastic way to define goals you already have, while bringing new ideas to light. This can take some of the ideas and dreams you have for your career to the next level.
Many new graduates are unsure what a mentor does or even how to find one. The truth is, most occupational therapists likely already have a mentor in some capacity and don’t even know it. A mentor can be anyone in the field of therapy (or beyond) who has given you some sort of guidance, or someone who has a career path similar to the one you wish to take. Possible mentors for an occupational therapist could include a:
- Fieldwork supervisor
- Past supervisor
- Entrepreneur-therapists who have started their own companies or made their own products
- Occupational therapist in a setting where you wish to work
If you already know of someone who you feel could provide valuable support, guidance, or direction toward your career goals, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Creative Ways to Find an Occupational Therapy Mentor
Some therapists may fixate on finding a mentor doing exactly what they wish to do in the future. This is certainly not the right way to go about finding a mentor, as it often happens much more organically. Those who are part of social media groups or other online communities where therapists network often happen upon others who are not only similar to them, but who are willing to provide the sort of assistance they need. LinkedIn is another great way to find people from near and far who have accomplished milestones in their career you admire or wish to follow. People often post such events on LinkedIn and are likely to interact with those who respond.
Another way to find mentorship can come by simply having a job. This type of close-proximity mentor can be helpful even if you do not see yourself at your current job in the long-term. Even if you are considering a change of setting or departments, sharing your career goals and aspirations with your current supervisor can help them connect you with people or even opportunities which can help pave the path for your career goals.
Opportunities as Mentorship
Some of you may be thinking, Opportunities? And, yes, you heard right. I personally consider opportunities to be a form of mentorship. Seminars, webinars, committees, new roles, and more are often inclusive chances for mentorship. While these opportunities can help connect you with a mentor, they can also serve as mentorship by providing you with the skills and know-how to take your career to the next level. This often is largely dependent on finding the right type of opportunity to fit your needs. However, these opportunities can be found by networking, reading social media posts, and asking around. The right opportunity often presents itself to those who are looking for it.
One of the key points to take away from mentorship is that it can take your career to the next level. This is one of the best ways to shape your career in the way you wish. However, this is not meant to detract focus from other important career-changing factors such as resume building, good interview skills, career planning, goal setting, and time management. These can all guide therapists not only into a different stage of their career, but also into a different way of viewing the work they do. New perspective can really help solidify goals and make dreams a reality!