It’s probably about time I told you this, but I’m employed, and not as an OT.

Hi there.

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.

Waiting for an application result for the perfect job is the worst feeling ever.

I have to admit, I’m getting antsy about hearing back about the paediatric post I applied for at the beginning of the month. Another OT suggested I phone them, but I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. I might reconsider if I haven’t heard by Friday. I’ll want to know how I can improve my application for the future if I haven’t been shortlisted for this post. If any more experienced OTs out there read this before then and have any advice, please share!
I hate the feeling of waiting though. I keep wondering if they’ve already decided and contacted the shortlisted candidates, which would mean that I haven’t been shortlisted. Then my mind goes down this twisty path of self-doubt. I really want this job. It’s a paediatric post in my area that supports innovation, and they’re expanding to take on new roles that I have exactly the right experience for. I feel like I’m perfect for this role, but I’m starting to think that I’ve either not demonstrated that well enough, or I’m not as great as the other applicants. All I ask for is the opportunity of an interview.
How do other people handle this anxiety of waiting for that perfect job opportunity?

November, this is going to be intense.

I’m pushing myself this month.

I’m attempting NaNoWriMo, DigiWriMo and NaBloPoMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, Digital Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month. (Although, I don’t know if the ‘National’s apply, given that these are coordinated in the States, and I’m not there.)

For NaNoWriMo, I need to write 50,000 words in novel form. The same number of words needs to be written in digital form for DigiWriMo. Finally, for NaBloPoMo, I need to blog daily. So hopefully I can tackle the last two in the same way.

On top of that, I’m keeping up with my Coursera courses.

November is also exciting because I’ve just applied for a paediatric post within a growing service. I’ll hopefully find out if I’ve been shortlisted by the end of next week, and then interviews will be in the third week.

Also, Flan and I celebrate our third anniversary on the 29th. I’ll have to cram a few more words and a blog post in on the morning of the 30th, as we’ll be going away for the weekend to a cottage up north! Ignore me while I get all romantic and mushy…

Finally, as a follow-up to the knit-a-thon, I’ll be helping to run a two-hour workshop tomorrow at Restore. So far, my knitting group has raised just over £2000, but you can help that number grow by donating through my page.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Many of you are probably wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Honestly, I don’t expect to achieve all of these, but I like having goals. I like pushing myself. I’m tired just thinking about it, but I’m also happy and excited. Also, if I do get that job (*crosses fingers*), I probably won’t have as much time as I do now to push myself in non-OT ways. If I get that job, from December, I’ll be working hard to prepare myself for the big start of my new career. Then I’ll be hitting the ground running right at the start of the new year. (The OT lead I spoke to over the phone told me they’d want their new OTs to start around the 2nd or 3rd!)

So wish me luck, and I’ll wish the rest of you luck as well in your endeavours this month. I know a few people trying their hand at NaNoWriMo, so at least I’m not alone!