Dear New School Counselor,
Do you have a job yet? (The question everyone is asking you.) Don’t worry if you don’t. You might be going from interview to interview wondering where you’ll end up. You have so much passion in your heart, but you don’t have a lot on your resume. It’s okay, New School Counselor. You’re beginning to wonder if someone will ever hire you. Your time will come, and you’ll find the right fit. Maybe your first job won’t even be the right fit… but you’ll gain some experience, and you’ll better know what you’re looking for as time goes on.
Keep in touch with your professors and your grad school friends. They’ll be a strong reference point for you — especially in those first few years when you don’t know who else to call. Join some Facebook groups to bounce ideas off of other professionals. Find your high school counselor community! If Instagram is where you hang out, connect with school counselors there. There is so much to absorb and learn from others! Reach out to others but know that the best experience will come with time in your own real-world experience. Lean into others who have some experience to offer. You will never know everything there is to know. Keep asking all the questions.
Show off your confidence, New School Counselor.
Dear New School Counselor: you are nervous you aren’t going to know what to say or what to do. You’ve been trained for this! You’ve seen case studies, and you’ve discussed how to handle situations… but how will you react when it’s you on the other side of the desk? You are ready. You’ll consult when you need to, but you’ll handle the crises as they come. Every day will be different, and you’ll adapt… but that’s what you’ll love about this job! Your daily challenges will not allow you to easily categorize your responses in black and white. It will be unpredictable. You will live in the gray.
Give yourself time.
You want to save the world, but- take my advice- don’t try to do it all at once. You have visions, dreams, and goals for your students and your school. Take inventory of what systems are already in place. Notice what is going well and what needs improvements. Give yourself time to build your model school counseling program. It won’t happen overnight. Get the right stakeholders on board, and slowly build your credibility. Find a few things to concentrate on, grab a few resources you’re excited to try, start analyzing data to help you close gaps, and start looking for the things you may be most passionate about!
Take care of yourself.
Some of us personally share our students’ burdens more than others… but we all do feel for our students in different ways. You will certainly deal with the harder things like death, grief, and abuse– it’s just a matter of when. You will see students cry regularly, and you will probably cry yourself. Set up your personal boundaries, and care for yourself emotionally and physically. If you don’t, you won’t last long in this field. It’s a long-distance race… not a sprint. Do you like to exercise, paint, or read? Find what brings you joy, and pursue that outside of work. Establish these habits early, and chase after them hard.
Pursue your career with confidence and passion.
A School Counselor Who’s Still Trying to Figure It Out
PS- I’d like to think my email list is the dose of positivity you need as you’re interning, job searching, new to the career, or hitting a plateau. Come join my Counselor Clique and grab this High School Counseling Job Interview Questions Cheat Sheet!