03
Jan
2014

5 Tips For Moving From Intern to Full-Time

Music Therapy EdJessica Johnson, MT-BC, originally from a small town in Minnesota, now lives in Southern California. She provides music therapy in San Diego with older adults in a variety of settings, adults in the medical setting. She is also the Director of Continuing Ed for Music Therapy Ed, the premiere site for online music therapy education.

Take the free Tech Basics course, and join the movement in positioning music therapists as LEADERS in healthcare!

I think back to the beginning of June 2012. It was my last month of internship, and I was really starting to get nervous… I only had a month left of internship, and I had no idea if I would be able to find a job after I graduated. And I knew I wasn’t alone… Finding employment after internship can be very stressful. You are leaving the safety net of being an intern, still in school, and still being looked after. I want to share my story of how I went from intern to full-time, and give you 5 tips on how to do the same thing.

I interned at MusicWorx, Inc. in San Diego, CA, under the internship director Barbara Reuer, PhD, MT-BC. Growing up in a very small town in Northern Minnesota, I never thought I would live across the country in sunny San Diego. Amazingly, that’s where I ended up. I felt so blessed to be in such a beautiful place, having the opportunity to work with so many different populations, and getting the experience I needed. Although I will always be a Minnesota girl at heart, I knew I was not ready to go back to Minnesota when I was finished with internship. My heart was telling me that I needed to remain in San Diego.

The problem was, there were no job openings that I knew of. I searched AMTA’s job postings… nothing. I searched every website I could think of for posted music therapy jobs or related fields… nothing. But I didn’t give up—I knew there had to be something.

Towards the end of internship, I shared my dilemma with one of my intern supervisors, Rebecca Vaudreuil, who shared with me that Coast Music Therapy (a company she did contract work with) was looking to hire a new contractor. She said she’d be happy to pass my information on to them. I started to get my hopes up…

I was in contact with Coast Music Therapy, but things weren’t set in stone. I moved back to Minnesota to graduate and take the Board Certification Exam (and I passed!). In the meantime, I did not give up hope. I still wanted to be in San Diego, and I was in the process of communicating with Coast Music Therapy about the details of the job. I eventually got offered the job, and had to make a decision. The job was 3 days a week, working as a contractor. I knew I couldn’t make a living off 3 days a week, so I had to find something else to fill in the gaps– Preferably, music therapy work.

For years, I had been following a music therapist who had a strong online presence, and I greatly admired her work. Her name is Kat Fulton. I knew that she worked with older adults, which was one of my favorite populations to work with. I sent her an email with my fingers crossed, asking her if she had any openings. Amazingly, I heard back from her! We did a Skype interview, and thankfully, she had work available, and she had faith in me that I was a good fit for the job.

I also picked up some contract work from MusicWorx, and together, the three music therapy companies filled my schedule enough that I could make a living in San Diego. I drove the 2,000+ miles back to San Diego, and started my career as a professional music therapist.

Several months later, Kat Fulton offered me full-time employment, and I now work for Kat, working with clients in the community, and as the Director of Continuing Ed for MusicTherapyEd.com. It has been a wild ride, but I have an amazing FULL-TIME job, working for the best boss anyone could ever ask for, learning something new every day, and getting the experience I need in the place that I wanted to be.

Believe me, if I can do it—so can you! Below, you will find 5 tips to keep in mind while you are job searching. This is what worked for me—maybe it will work for you too!

#1: Be Bold and Reach Out
Don’t just sit back and search for posted jobs. Absolutely search for jobs (and AMTA’s job listings are a great start!), but don’t ONLY search for posted jobs. Reach out to people. I didn’t get any of my contract work from sitting back and applying for jobs posted online. I reached out to my internship and supervisor, I emailed several different music therapy companies in the San Diego area, and one emailed back. Later, while I had been working for Kat, she mentioned how impressed she was that I had reached out to her, that I knew who she was and who she was all about, and how it was perfect timing when I emailed her. You never know who is looking—it could be the perfect time to contact them. Even if you contact a company who isn’t looking at the moment, you have made that connection for the future. Be bold. Be aggressive. Go after what you want.

#2: Network
Networking is so important in our field. We are a family, and we need to look out for each other. I didn’t even know Coast Music Therapy was looking for somebody, until Rebecca (someone from the inside who knew they were looking) mentioned it to me. It was through her recommendation that I was considered for the position. Get to know the music therapists in your area. Familiarize yourself with music therapy blogs. Go to conferences. Get a twitter account. There is a whole community of music therapists on twitter –sharing insights, articles, blog posts, and offering support and encouragement. Not only will you have that extra support, friendships, and additional tools for professional development, but you never know who will have that opening where a music therapist friend will say.. “Hey, you would be PERFECT for this job!”

#3: Piece it together
Be prepared that you might not find full-time employment right off the bat. In my situation, I had to piece together three different companies to fill my schedule. For me, I was not ready to start a private practice with my own clients yet, so I went the route of music therapy contract work.
I got lucky in that those companies were music therapy companies, but I was also prepared to look for something non-music therapy related. It takes time, patience, and most-importantly, flexibility.

#4: Work hard
Work hard to be the best you can be in the position you have, and windows may open. Go above and beyond. Kat liked the work that I did, and it opened the window to full-time employment with her. Show the people you work for how passionate you are about the work you do for them. That being said, I do believe it is very important to have a balance. Definitely work hard, but don’t overwork yourself to the point of burnout—that is when the work you do will go downhill. I’m a firm believer in taking care of YOU first, in order to help others, and be 100% present with clients. That includes being healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Find time in your schedule for your “me” time, whether that is exercising, spending time with family & friends, relaxing by the beach, or whatever it is that works for you personally to enhance your wellbeing.

#5: Follow your dreams
Don’t be afraid to go after what you really want. I always believe that if it’s meant to be, things will work out. I knew in my heart that San Diego was where I needed to be, I went after it, and it worked out in the end. Dream big! Don’t just dream and hope it will work out though… go after that dream! Do whatever you can to make that dream come true. Anything can happen, and anything is possible!
I hope these tips are helpful for you. Job searching (and your professional career in general) is definitely a journey, and there’s no telling where it will take you. 5 years ago, if someone were to ask me where I saw myself in 5 years, I never would have imagined that I would be living in San Diego with such a rewarding job. Live life to the fullest and enjoy the ride, wherever it may take you.

Music Therapy EdJessica Johnson, MT-BC, originally from a small town in Minnesota, now lives in Southern California. She provides music therapy in San Diego with older adults in a variety of settings, adults in the medical setting. She is also the Director of Continuing Ed for Music Therapy Ed, the premiere site for online music therapy education.

Take the free Tech Basics course, and join the movement in positioning music therapists as LEADERS in healthcare!

3 Comments

  1. Brianna January 3, 2014 11:56 pm / Reply

    So great to hear you’re story, Jessie! Congrats on such an amazing journey 🙂

  2. Emily January 5, 2014 2:52 pm / Reply

    Jessie, as one of your clinical supervisors, I always knew you would do achieve great things! Congrats on your success and I look forward in following you in the future!

  3. Anais Schokaert January 18, 2014 12:40 pm / Reply

    Thank you so much Jessie for posting about your experience – I am training in music therapy in the UK and there are some times when I find myself feeling slightly anxious about the day I graduate and start the job hunt! But what you share here really helps me remember that it is all possible! Congratulations

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