There I had it, I had completed the degree. Having spent years of my life working towards this moment, I found myself suddenly with nothing to do to fill the bulk of my time. Without university I had lost my main purpose. I was asking “what now?”.
An obvious choice of activity is to start looking and applying for jobs but this created a lot more questions:
- What setting would I like to start in?
- How far away am I willing to travel?
- How do I complete an effective personal statement?
Simply put, during this time I was practically made of questions! I wanted to have some time off as well, but switching off from the drive I had to get a job was not easy. I had also put pressure on myself to be working before my graduation in November 2019, which on reflection was not helpful and was unnecessary. However, I did find that I was able to calm down once I had seen and applied for most of the jobs in the setting and distance range I had chosen.
I looked for inspiration for the setting from my practice placements, looking at what I enjoyed most and what I did best in, this was mental health. Choosing one setting to focus on in applications helped because I was able to improve my personal statement with feedback from each application, then apply it directly to my next as there were more similarities than differences. I was also able to prepare for questions that were likely to be asked and were the same for most interviews, which was handy!
It took a while to be offered my first band 5 post and to begin with I received very negative feedback from interviews. I was sat at home unable to happily occupy myself with much outside of applying for jobs, this pressure was not good for my mental wellbeing. I began to wonder where and when my first post would come, if at all.
At the same time, I was also hearing the news of many of my peers from university being offered OT posts. Although delighted for them, a feeling of envy was ever present prior to my own successful interview. I found it difficult to stay positive during this time.
Then, after my third interview, my outlook changed. The feedback indicated I’d done really well but narrowly missed out. My thought process became: “I’m one interview closer to being offered a job”.
I think this new viewpoint helped me to be much more positive when I didn’t get an offer in my subsequent interview. On my fifth attempt I was successful in being offered my first OT job!
My advice for those starting out and applying for OT posts? It’s important to put a productive amount of pressure on yourself, not so much that you become overly anxious about your next interview but enough to keep you improving with each interview and application you complete.
Good luck out there!
Written by Ryan McClure
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