It's graduation season! Which means a new graduating class of Optometry students is entering the workforce. And we know that Optometry students have options when deciding what's next for their career. Our friends at Local Eye Site, a website that empowers eye care organizations to recruit Optometrists, Ophthalmic Technicians, Opticians, and Optical Sales people, have come up with a list of 5 tips for helping recent Optometry students with their job search.
What Optometry Students Should be Doing on Their Search for a Career
Few things in this world are as simultaneously necessary, stressful, and generally misunderstood as the job search process. You attend Optometry School for a number of years, maybe do a residency, work hard to absorb as much knowledge as you can, and then someone stands on a stage one day in May and tells you it's time to face the reality of long-term, perpetual employment. You're thrown into the job search with minimal preparation, and the worst part is you thought you were ready for it.
In this article, you'll find out some of the five most important things Optometry students should know about the job search process, before you turn the tassel. That way, when the time comes to finally begin your search, you'll have a good idea of where to begin. Ready? You will be after reading this.
Your Job Search Starts Now
Contrary to popular belief, the job search process doesn't begin with graduation and end with an offer letter in-hand. Whether you're a first year, fourth year, or completing your residency, the search for the perfect Optometry job after graduation actually began the day you became an Optometry student. Those friends you made? They're going to be your most trusted colleagues in the field. Those ODs you worked for over the summer months? They're the ones who are going to mentor you when you start your own practice. Those professors who pushed you so hard? They become your network of esteemed professionals you can rely on for advice, recommendations, and endorsements. The connections you make during your stint in Optometry School will serve to prepare you for life as a working professional, and there's no better way to begin your career than with the support of a strong community of colleagues that want to see you succeed. Don't wait until your final days as a student to take advantage of the opportunities you have waiting for you now. Get connected now so that you have a strong support group when you need it to move on to your next phase in life.
Preparation is Paramount
Searching for a job isn't something you can simply turn on and off like a Retinoscope. You have to plan, prepare, and map out your strategy for finding a job after graduating Optometry School - and it's not always as easy as it sounds. The best way to begin planning for your job search is to first determine the basic fundamentals for what you want in your career. Where would you like to live? Do you want to start your own practice or work for an established practice? What's a realistic salary range you can expect to earn in the first few years out of school? Answer these questions before you begin so you can set real expectations for opportunities that arise when you begin your search. Furthermore, preparing a professional Resume and Cover Letter (or CV) is critical in ensuring your personal brand is ready for potential employers.
An Open Mind Leaves Room for Unseen Opportunity
Oftentimes, many people assume there's going to be a perfect opportunity quietly waiting for them to graduate from Optometry School. This isn't always the case, and it's easy for students to get disappointed when their first job out of school isn't everything they dreamed it would be in a career. Sometimes the best jobs are in small offices, in small towns, or come in unusual packages. Use these opportunities to move to a new town, get a fresh start, and make new friends along the way. You never know when that small town opportunity can turn into a big-time advancement in your career as an OD. Maintaining an open mind, especially in the early stages of the job search will allow you to discover previously unseen opportunities that may offer you more in the beginning of your career than you originally thought you could obtain, so why not give the lesser-known options a shot?
Finding a Job Takes Time
The job search process is just that - a process. It's not going to happen overnight, and it certainly isn't going to be easy for everyone. The job search will try your patience when employers wait forever to get back to you after you submit your resume, the interview keeps getting delayed because the only OD in the practice doesn't have time to meet with you, or the administrator is too busy to send you that offer letter. Overall, it's a process that doesn't always work the way you want it to, so use this time to develop your patience. Maintaining a calm demeanor through the job search will not only help you in your career throughout life, but it will also prevent you from falling into obsession, worry, and chaos when the going gets tough. Just remember: even though the jobs are out there, you just may have to wait a little to find the one that you feel would be a good place to start your career.
Stay Focused and Positive
Finding a job can be a job in itself, so it's important that you focus on your goals and don't succumb to feelings of anxiety, negativity, or depression. Set aside time each week to work on your job search, but also give yourself at least one worry-free day of relaxation so you can maintain a balance in your life. This will help you stay on track with your job search goals without causing you to lose your mind when it seems like you aren't making any progress. Furthermore, using tools like OD Grad-Connect from Local Eye Site to discover opportunities for OD students and Residents is an excellent way to zero in on job openings specifically offered to new graduates. Don't lose heart and keep pressing on. Your time will come - just stay optimistic!
Overall, the job search process is something to be taken seriously, but it isn't the scariest thing on the planet either. With a little time, preparation, focus, and a positive attitude, you can find yourself well on your way to building a career that you can be proud of year after year.
If you're a student thinking about starting your own practice after graduation, check out our eBook, Blueprints for a Well-Built Eyecare Practice.