Category Archives: Work Smart

New Grads: How to Stand Out From the Crowd

All the hard work you put in with graduate school is coming to an end and now you’re ready to get your career started. Distinguishing yourself from other fresh grads is essential to landing that first position out in the field. Below are eight tips to help you get started today.

Join and assume leadership in a professional organization. Get involved with your local AAMFT, CAMFT or NSW chapters. By actively participating in established organizations in the mental health community, you’re demonstrating a commitment to the field and your career development.

Network and make friends in the field. Not only does networking give you a broader circle to turn to when you’re looking for jobs, it also give you people to turn to when you need advice in the field.  Building a broad network takes work and this task should be a top priority as you transition from student to clinician.

Find a mentor. We’ve discussed tips on finding a mentor before, but let me emphasize how important having a mentor can be in your career development. The right match in a mentor can help you navigate your path towards licensure, hone your skills, develop marketing techniques and provide valuable insights, especially in the early stages of your career.

Maintain affiliation with your school. Keeping in touch with your graduate school is a great way to stay current with what’s developing in the mental health community.  Take advantage of ongoing training opportunities in order to stay connected and to continue your learning.

Have a well-polished resume. Creating a solid resume that effectively showcases your experience can be key in helping you land that first job out of grad school. Now that a majority of job postings are found online, which increases the number of applicants per position, making sure that your resume shines is more important than ever. Don’t just brush up that old resume you used to apply to practicums, take this opportunity to make sure to start a fresh; highlight your qualities and strengths, include your professional goals and put the most important information first.  Have your mentor and several colleagues review your resume to ensure that you are effectively selling yourself.

Switching Careers?  Use this to your advantage. For many therapists and social workers, the path to the mental health field wasn’t a direct one.  If working as a clinician is your second career, don’t think that your prior experience is moot.  What challenges did you overcome in your previous profession?  Did you have an opportunity to build relationships with clients or vendors?  Any leadership experience? Identify and emphasize your transferable skills in your resume and cover letter and make them work for you.

Be flexible. Everyone is looking for their dream job. Make a list of things that you want in your dream job. Is it flexible hours? Working with a specific population? Do you need to make a certain salary? Rank what is really important to you in finding that first job out of grad school and what you are willing to work for later on.

Remember why you chose this field.  As you make the transition from student to clinician it is easy to get distracted .  Keep yourself grounded and focus on what matters most…your clients.  You have dedicated a lot of time and energy to become licensed in a field where you can truly make a difference in the lives of others.  Congratulations and good luck.

Licensing Applications and BBS Processing Times

We know that one of your main goals as an intern or trainee is to gain enough hours to sit for licensure with the BBS. With cutbacks in staff in early 2011, the current processing time for MFT and LCSW applications is running a few months out.  If you’ve already submitted your application and are wondering where you are in the process, the BBS website frequently updates what ‘week’ of submitted applications they are currently working on.  For the week of January 23rd, MFT applications received the week of August 2nd, 2011 and Clinical Social Work applications received the week of October 31st were being processed.  You can find the most recent information here.
A completed application provides the best opportunity to avoid delays in approving the applicant for the licensure examination. With that in mind, below are suggestions to help ensure your application has everything in order when you submit your materials to the BBS.
Make sure your application is 100% complete. This sounds pretty basics, but according to the BBS, the number one reason why applications are refused from sitting for exams is that they are missing information.

Double check that your graduate course work meets all the requirements. The BBS lists accredited and approved schools,  so you can see if your program is on the list.  If not, it is possible to take CEUs that meet the BBS criteria.

Submit your weekly experience logs in date order. This will not only make for a smoother review of your weekly logs, but ensures that you’ve gone back through your signed statements and know that they are all present.  If you do find that you’ve misplaced a weekly experience sheet, don’t worry, you’ve got all your hours still logged on TYH.  Scroll back through your weeks, reprint and submit to your supervisor.

Include all signed experience verification logs. Double check each sheet to make sure your hours add up and that each sheet includes signatures in the proper place.  This is the time you want to dot all your i’s and cross your t’s.

Are your transcripts in a sealed envelope? This is a must for the BBS.

Don’t forget your payment! After making it through your grad program, successfully logging 3000 hours and beginning to prep for your exam, the last reason you would want to be denied is for forgetting to submit payment.
For additional information on the application process, contact the BBS with your questions.

Declutter Your Digital Life

Though our professional and personal lives are moving away from paper, our digital lives can still be filled with clutter.  The more time we spend working through e-mail, downloading journal articles or combing through RSS feeds, the more messy our digital lives can get. Use these 6 tips to clean up your inbox, tidy up your files and tackle your digital clutter.

Clean Up Your Contacts: Most e-mail programs have a feature that cache your contacts and autofills e-mail addresses as you type.  While this can be a good thing, it can also create confusion when a contact moves addresses or uses multiple e-mail addresses. Spend the time now culling and organizing your e-mail contacts to avoid confusion later.

Move E-Mails Out of Your Inbox: By keeping your read e-mails your inbox, you risk the chance of missing something important on days when keeping up with your new mail gets daunting. Mail providers like Gmail allow users to create labels and file message away for later access.  Once you’ve addressed the e-mail, take advantage these labels and folders. We all know physical clutter can be overwhelming and digital clutter is no different.

Use Dropbox: We’ve recommended the file syncing service before, but the benefits cannot be overstated. With 2GB of free storage space you can keep files PDFs, documents, photos and more organized and accessible from your smart phone or any computer you use.

Simplify Your Feed: If you have dozens of RSS feeds, chances are you’re over subscribed. Though it’s great to get your news and information from a variety of sources, trying to keep up with every blogger or new agency that you once found an interesting article from can leave you stressed. Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad in subscribing to a lot of RSS feeds, but when managing them consumes your time and energy then it’s time to begin the re-selection process.

Ban Clutter From Your Desktop: Your desktop on your personal or work computer is the gateway to your digital life. At the end of the day — or week — move all files you don’t use daily off your desktop into broad topic folders.

Create an Effective Go Bag: If you are a clinician that works at multiple sites or grad student on the go, making sure that you have what you need with you is a priority.  You’ll be the best judge of your own needs, but plan ahead bag by stocking designating one bag to always move around with. Stock it with items like a flash drive, laptop extension cord, writing utensils, business cards and your favorite worksheets for clients. When you keep your bag stocked, you can spend less time wondering if you remembered the necessities and more time on your work.

Twitter Can Keep You in the Loop

Twitter has become known as a great networking and self-promotion tool, but it’s also a useful service to keep up with the Marriage and Family Therapist and Social Work community at large. Wefollow has a list of highly followed Therapists, which is a good sign they produce information others find valuable. You can find that list here: