From student to professional occupational therapist – tips from Emmi

The alarm clock is waking you up and you are getting ready for your first day as an occupational therapist. Your mind is full of both excitement and insecurity. It was just short a time ago when you were sitting in a lecture and waiting to graduate. Now you have the piece of paper that proves you are a qualified occupational therapist. While you are packing your backpack you realise that besides all the joyful excitement, you are also packing some discouraging questions: Do I have enough knowledge for this job? Did I work enough during the internships? How are the colleagues and clients like? And the biggest question of all: Am I ready?

Hello everyone!

My name is Emmi and I’m a third-year student from Finland and I study in Helsinki at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Many of you are in the same situation that I am now: lectures are soon over, internships are completed and it’s time to face the exciting working life.

Transitioning from an occupational therapist student to a professional occupational therapist is an exciting and well-deserved accomplishment but it is also a little scary and overwhelming phase in one’s life. To soften my own transition to the working life I have created a list that I want to share with you. Maybe you can also find some tips to make your transition a little bit easier. 😊

My tips for you

  1. Peer support – The best peer support you can find from your classroom. Keep in touch after graduation and share your experiences, both good and bad. It is really good to hear that someone else is going through exact same feelings and thoughts that you are.
  2. Ensure you have a mentor – A new job is an exciting thing for everyone but especially for recent graduates. In a job interview ensure you have someone you can turn to if and when you have some questions about the new job.
  3. Ask, ask and ask – Ask your colleagues every time you are feeling uncertain. This saves you from thinking ”What if” all night long. Asking also makes you understand the job better!
  4. Believe in yourself – I was once told that occupational therapist is never ready and learning continues through the career, so every recent graduate is good enough to start working and learning. You did all the exams and internships, and you finished the school. You got this. 😊
  5. Feel the atmosphere – In a job interview take a moment and listen carefully how they are talking about the atmosphere and colleagues. Really think does the atmosphere in that workplace suits you and your ways of working.
  6. Be curious – As an occupational therapist you can work in so many different places and with different kind of client groups. Be curious and open minded and see what kind of opportunities work life has to offer you. You may find something really interesting from the places you never thought you would end up working in first place.
  7. Be kind to yourself – You can’t know everything from the start, and everybody makes mistakes. There is always tomorrow. Once you try your best, that’s enough.
  8. And last but not least, take care of your occupational balance. We will talk about this a lot with our clients, but it is also important for us as employees. Remember to eat, sleep and do things that feel good and make you smile. And do these things every day so you will have enough energy to transform from student to professional occupational therapist. 😊

So, when the alarm clock is ringing in the near future, I will wake up on a thought that today I am an occupational therapist, I will drink a big cup of coffee and get to work without a panic on my mind. Instead of discouraging questions I will pack in my backpack this list above and positive attitude. 😊 I hope that you future colleagues will do the same thing and set out to pursue your own career as occupational therapists because we are good to go!

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