When I was attending graduate school I thought I would end up working with elementary students. My school externship was with Pre-K through 5th grade and I loved it! I started collecting as many picture books as I could find. My parents were quickly starting a storage pile for my materials as my studio apartment at the time had zero room to spare.
Then it came time to apply for jobs after school. All I knew was I wanted to stay somewhere in the midwest, preferably a larger city area. I grew up in rural Illinois and I wanted something different. I applied outside of Chicago, STL, and Kansas City. Honestly I was applying to any and all SLP jobs that I could find. I was not really focusing on what grade placement it would be. To my surprise I heard back from a school district only two days after applying. They asked for an skype interview later on that same day. I quickly rushed back to my apartment, took a shower (dry shampoo was not going to cut it), and found the nicest shirt I could find.
For my interview I had all my cheat sheets out in front of me since they couldn’t see it. I printed off my resume, any questions I had, and the school salary schedule. I also printed off the school’s mission statement. I would recommend this to anyone applying for a job. You can use the same language and terms that they have in their mission statement. It makes it seem like you are already apart of the team and a perfect match for the school. Anyway… back to the interview. They asked me a few questions about testing and how I would set up my groups. My favorite question was if I could have my dream speech room what would be included and why. During the meeting they also asked if I had looked over the salary schedule and were surprised when I held it up for them on my end (so happy I had my notes)!
After my interview with the special education director and another SLP in the district they mentioned that they had two positions open, one for elementary and one for secondary. I stated that I have more experience in elementary, but that my youngest brother was a middle schooler so I could “vibe” with the kids. They said they would be in contact in the next couple days as their board meeting was the next day. I couldn’t stop shaking after the interview was over. It finally hit me that this was happening. I wasn’t going to go back to work at Dairy Queen, my high school/college job, I was going to become this SLP that I had been working so hard to become.
Well those next two days seemed to last forever. On the second day I kept telling myself I didn’t get the job. My mom was encouraging me saying that it may take many interviews to land a job. It was like something out of a movie though, because while I was talking to her I missed a call from the school district offering me the job. When I called back and asked for which position, they said it would be for the middle/high school position. I told them I would need some time think about it and get back to them…
Was I ok with working with this age group? This was not something that I had been preparing for. What would I do with all the materials I had been accumulating. Was I even ready to work with the higher language levels that come with this age group? I kept doubting myself.
After visiting the district, since it was five hours from home, and many hours of soul searching I accepted the job. I was excited to move to my new city, start making new friends, and get myself established. But was I ready for middle schoolers?