A maze, there are trees in the background.
Newly Qualified Occupational Therapist

Going for Non-traditional Jobs Post-qualifying

Some of you may know that at the beginning of last month I started my first job post-qualifying, in fact, my first job ever!! It’s so great to finally be in the working world!

My new job is a non-traditional role at the University of Huddersfield my official title is Clinical Demonstrator. I know, I’m sorry if you’ve been following me on Twitter I still can’t really explain what I do yet, but I will soon, I promise.

I’ve been thinking a lot about non-traditional roles and if I’d have been looking at non-traditional roles sooner, then maybe I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in over the Summer and Autumn. Everything happens for a reason and I’m so glad things turned out the way they have. Yet, I have a question for you (and me), why was I so hesitant of applying for a non-traditional role?

If you would have said to me 6 months ago that’d I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I wouldn’t have believed you and I would have thought I don’t have the knowledge, skills or experience to even apply for the job. I was lacking in confidence and had huge imposter syndromes when thinking about applying for a traditional occupational therapy role never mind anything else. Yet, why does this matter? Why does going for a traditional versus non-traditional role depend on experience and confidence? 

I understand why traditional occupational therapy is the most popular route once qualifying and I am fully aware that I am lacking in some of these traditional clinical skills, however, my line manager and I have explored ways to evidence this. 

When I explain my role to my colleagues at work and tell them that this is my first job I do often get asked what made me go into such a non-traditional role post-qualifying and if I feel like I am missing out on gaining clinical skills and I never know how to answer.

I don’t know how to answer because of two reasons. The first reason was that with it being 6 months after qualifying when I accepted the post I was just so eager to be an occupational therapist that I wanted to explore any opportunity that was appropriate for my access needs.  The second reason was that I realised I was never actually going to go into a traditional practice role. It has taken me a while to acknowledge this, and it was actually a previous lecturer that said this and made me realise that this is always where I am meant to be.

Throughout my studies I’ve been a very ‘non-traditional student’ in the sense that I did my role-emerging virtual placement and was more active in challenging the status quo than other students, so logically why would I go into a traditional role? My disability does mean that I am limited in the areas of practice that I can go into but my ‘non-traditional student experience’ opens up so many more opportunities that I would never have had the opportunity to do. My personal experience of disability makes me the occupational therapist I am. So, why would I want to go into a role that doesn’t allow me to use the tools I’ve gained from having a disability and ignore the integral parts of both my professional and personal identity?

I do acknowledge that I’m going to need some clinical experience to progress further in this profession however this does not require me to part take in a traditional role. Why would it and what does that actually mean? If I am working as an occupational therapist then I am in an occupational therapy role.

I am 22-years-old and I have my whole career in the profession ahead of me therefore I have plenty of time to get any additional experiences to enhance my personal and professional development. As we all know learning is lifelong and right now the most important thing is that I am working as an occupational therapist learning and gaining new experiences.

So, do I ever question going into a non-traditional newly qualified occupational therapy post? Yes, I do of course I do, but in a good way as I know I am going to get so much out of this role which will ultimately benefit my future journey within this profession and I am so glad that I went for this opportunity.

Did you go straight into a non-traditional role post-qualifying, what did that mean to you and what was your experience? Let me know I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading,

Georgia x