It’s been a while. I’ve been keeping something from you all.
I have a job!
A permanent job, no less. I didn’t want to say anything until I’d passed the one month trial that they asked me to do, as they were taking a very big risk hiring me. I passed, if you haven’t guessed, and I’ve been there now for six weeks.
Now, I didn’t get an occupational therapy job. In fact, my job title is Technical Customer Support Agent, and I spend most of the day answering phone calls and helping people with ‘electronic point of sale’ software. It’s a customer support role that requires a lot of technical know-how in hardware, software and web development, none of which I had too much professional experience in when I applied. In my first month, I had to show them that I had the capacity and willingness to learn, and apparently I did really well! Being a small company, I also had to fit in with the team, and I’m so happy to find that I get on really well with my team, and I feel like I’m contributing something worthwhile to them and to our customers.
The job is intense; it can get both busy and sometimes emotionally draining, but I love it. I want to learn more, fix more on my own, improve the existing systems so that customers don’t have to call in about everything. I guess it’s my OT training talking, but I want to help our customers become as self-sufficient as possible, and that means creating a support network for them, including the existing customer support staff, as well as help videos and guides, better initial training and so on.
It’s strange, though, thinking I’ve got HCPC-registration and a degree in occupational therapy, and yet I’m not even in a health or social care job. I’m definitely using the skills I learned during my studies, but I didn’t go to university thinking I was going to end up working with computers. It makes sense now, as I learned during my studies that I enjoy working with technology and figuring out ways to make situations more enjoyable and/or efficient. I still want to eventually study for a Masters in something like human-computer interaction or user experience, but I don’t know where that’s going to lead me considering how my idea of the future has changed so dramatically since I was in high school.
Tuesday’s #OTalk on Twitter is about the transition from OT student to OT practitioner, but I feel I have something to contribute despite not following that path. In today’s climate, not everyone who graduates with a degree in OT will end up working as an OT. At least not initially. I bet most of those who don’t get an OT job get a related position as a carer, mental health worker, OT assistant, etc. However, I want all those graduating in the next few months to realise that you don’t have to limit yourself to OT. You’ve developed brilliant skills in analysis and can understand people and occupations in ways that many others can’t. These skills are so, so useful to employers in other fields. My desire to help others be independent, which grew as an OT student, is now appreciated in a technical customer support role. Customer service is just one path to try, though. Figure out what you enjoy and what your personal strengths are, add in those many skills you developed at university, and try new avenues.
My final piece of advice is to not give up. I couldn’t find an OT job. In fact, I was struggling to get any job that was mildly of interest while I worked part-time at a customer service desk in a retail chain. After four months there, I handed in my notice without a job lined up because it simply wasn’t right for me. I took a chance because being unemployed for a short while made me happier than the job I only spent 27 hours at a week. Around the same time, I’d gone to a few interviews, with positive results, and despite having a job offer, I took yet another chance. I held out for the role I have now, having three interviews in total. And I got it. You see, it all worked out, and all I had to do was wait a little while, take a few chances and be open-minded.