What now?

“You will have many more opportunities once you obtain your LPC.” I heard this over and over again as an LPC-Intern. I was excited for these opportunities, but what were they exactly? More pay? A promotion? My own private practice? During this time of transition, I was unsure what this meant for me and unfortunately, no job miraculously landed in my lap. I had to apply, research, and then apply some more. However, this process taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do.

Here are some tips to consider based on what I learned when looking for work…

Know what you want

We all start somewhere and all have to “pay our dues”.

Several of my internship jobs were unpaid and I traveled all over the city to gain experience and hours. This was a very frustrating and overwhelming time for me; however, it paid off. I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted. This was specifically important as I learned what population I want to work with, the hours I feel comfortable working, and where I wanted to work.

Think about the work you are doing…is it what you want? Are you working with the populations and issues your are most interested in?  Are you working the hours you want? Are you working where you want to work? If you answered no to any of these questions, take some time to reevaluate your wants.

It is possible to work where you want, as soon as you figure out what it is that you want.

Do your research

This step is very important. Consider this task to be your job when your are trying to plan your next move. Researching and obtaining information about training, job prospects, and/or a potential employer are incredibly important.  Don’t expect things to be laid out for you.  You must be prepared.

Start this task by researching potential places of employment as well as the questions you want to ask. For example, if having benefits such as medical insurance are a necessity, then take the time to write down the important questions you have about the company’s benefits. When prepared with knowledge from the research done and questions in hand, you will appear organized which could possibly increase your marketability.  Plus being prepared will make your decision making process easier.

Research should also be done when looking to expand your education and training. Find out how additional education and training would benefit you and your career. Don’t trust the guidance of a colleague whom may not know what is best for you—you know what is best for you and the responsibility falls on you to know what you are doing.

Bottom line, research, research, research any and all opportunities.

Make yourself marketable

In a market full of LPC’s and limited job opportunities, the best way to set yourself apart is to market yourself. There is only one you. People are buying into you, so make yourself a high commodity. I did this at my last place of employment. Among 10 LPC’s and LPC-Intern’s, I was one of three counselors who saw children for counseling. There was a large need for counselors to see children there; therefore, I had a busy schedule and job security.

To make yourself a high commodity, review your wants and do your research. Are you an expert at anything? Do you speak another language? Is there a need for a service that no one else is providing? These are the things that will help you to stand out. Market your differences to your current or future employer in order to stand out from the crowd. This goes a long way in the counseling field. If you are the only one providing a particular service, prepare yourself for referrals and a busy schedule.

Network

So you know what you want, have done your research, and made yourself marketable, now is the time to network with your people. Your people are the people with whom you know and have connections with. This is the easiest way to find out about jobs and training opportunities. Tell your people when you are looking for work. More often than not, they will know about someone hiring or about an awesome training course to participate in. I know I have heard about job opportunities from my people several times because they are supportive and interested in helping me reach my goals. I encourage you to create a supportive network to connect with. This is an easy and important way to learn about job and training opportunities.

If this is not possible for you, consider using the internet to network with other counselors. A good starting place is our blog and Facebook page, SA Counselors Networking Group. Here we provide support and guidance to LPC-Interns and LPC’s. However, don’t stop with us. Look to network with other professionals in various fields online and/or in person. To find more networking groups on Facebook, click on find new groups and type in the type of group you are looking to network with.

Create it yourself

And if all else fails, create it yourself.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it yourself.” –Unknown

If what you want is not out there, I encourage you to create it yourself. There are many more opportunities available when you create what you want. A colleague of mine splits her time between two cities, counseling and writing books. She does not sit in an office all day or have traditional work hours. This may not work for you, but it works for her. It allows her the opportunity to make money, travel, and do what she wants.

Getting out there and creating what you want is possible. It takes a lot of hard work and it can happen for you. We did just that with the SA Counselors Networking Group. The three of us needed support while obtaining our LPC-Intern hours. What we received in return has been more than we anticipated. We started with three members and have grown to over 600 members. We now have the support and guidance we need at our fingertips. If you are interested in creating your own networking group, read more here.

Know that it is possible to create what you want and make your dream job a reality.

Best of luck to you on your job search.

Tracy Cooper, LPC

P.S. If you have any tips that you have found to be helpful when looking for a job, please share them with us all by leaving a comment. We appreciate your feedback.

6 things to remember when filing for your LPC license

The day had finally come.  After completing the required internship hours I submitted my paperwork to transition from LPC-Intern to LPC. At this time, I was mere days away from delivering my first child, so I could not have been more relieved.  This was in January. Flash forward to May. My son was now 4 months old and I was still an LPC-Intern. Fortunately everything worked out. I was fully licensed just in time to return to work at the beginning of June.  But I can say that during those 4 months, I spent more time and energy than I would have liked calling the board, locating lost paperwork, and trying to calm my anxious nerves.  So, what went wrong?  It was actually a strange multitude of random occurrences that made the journey more difficult. But I did learn a few things about the application process. Hopefully my experience and lessons learned will be helpful to those of you who have yet to file for your LPC license.

1.  When keeping track of your hours, do so on one form.  During the middle of my internship my supervisor moved and I had to find a new one. My new supervisor recommended that I use the Supervision Log Form provided by the board.  Because I tend to be a creature of habit I resisted this change. This resulted in my having to transfer my hours from my original log to the official form.  It was a huge pain and I got confused in the mix of it.  It took me forever to get the numbers on the original log and the numbers on the new form to match.  Hear me now, just use the official form from the start. You will thank me later.

2.  Copies. Make copies of your copies and then copy those as well. Seriously. I had two wonderful supervisors throughout my internship.  They were organized, professional, and on top of everything.  Unfortunately they both moved to a different city. So when I couldn’t find my copies of my paperwork and decided to reach out to them and ask for theirs, everything was packed away.  It was stressful for everyone.

3. If there is a problem with your paperwork that is not quickly resolved email the board to formally request a copy of your records. If I had done this sooner, I would have quickly seen the problem and fixed it easily.  In fact, once I had the copy of my records, I was able to take care of the problem within an hour.

4. When contacting the board be pleasant and thorough.  Be prepared with a specific list of questions. You will not be offered information that you have not specifically asked about. For example, the first time I called I was told I was missing the jurisprudence exam. I rectified this, but still no license. The next time I called, I was informed that there was a mistake within the paperwork I filed and I would need to correct this mistake.  Later, after many more phone calls, I found out that there were actually 3 mistakes.  This brings me to my next tip.

5. Take notes while talking to the board and always ask who specifically you are speaking with.

6.  Last but not least, as my grandmother has always said, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Once I corrected all mistakes and sent the new paperwork in via both email and fax (better safe than sorry) I made sure to include a letter explaining the corrections and apologizing for any inconvenience that the errors may have caused anyone. I cannot prove it, but I firmly believe that this made all the difference.  I was licensed less than 3 days later.  Ask anyone, that turnaround time is almost unheard of.

If you have any other tips or suggestions to help with the process of filing for your LPC license, please share them with us all by leaving a comment in the box below!

Good luck!

Tiffany Frias, LPC

Helpful Bits

Graffiti-grandma

Below are little bits we have found throughout the past week that you, our fellow counselors, might find helpful in some way. The photo above just made us smile.

An interview with an art therapist in Washington DC

This discussion about bullying with the author of this book.

Updated code of ethics for NBCC

This mindfulness video

A loving contemplation.

A really great personal article about self care

The senate passes the Violence Against Women Act.

Art in San Antonio

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