As you move through the certification process, you will come in contact with a variety of aspiring professionals and child life specialists. Whether it is through your academic program, volunteer work, or in your clinical experiences you will be interacting with a diverse group of professionals. The high level of competition can breed relationships that become very negative and unsupportive. As soon as a colleague gets a position over you or you get passed over for an opportunity, the thoughts begin:
“Why did that person get the job and I didn’t?”
“What did they say during their interview that landed them the position?”
“Am I qualified enough for this?”
The self-doubt sets in and the relationship can become negative. During graduate school, I was very close with my cohort. To this day, we still have a group text going (7 years after graduating). We’ve gone to each other’s weddings, seen each other at conferences, and remained friends and colleagues throughout the competitive certification process.
How did we do it?
I think about this often and when I work with groups of students, it is a culture that I try to replicate. I firmly believe that when we lift each other up, our profession as a whole is lifted up. When we help and support others, we receive help and support when we need it.
My roommate and I in graduate school had very similar resumes. We received the same degrees from the same universities, carpooled to our hospital volunteer experiences, and both had experience with medical camps. When internship season rolled around, we set very clear boundaries about what we would and would not share. Our apartment turned into interview central! We practiced together, we hung Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system on our wall, we made signs for our doors to let the other person know we were interviewing. It was a very enmeshed experience and we continued to share interview questions and information with each other.
I truly believe that it was because of this supportive relationship that we both received offers on our first round. We could have been quiet and secretive about our interviews but instead, we decided to use each other as resources. And our cohort has continued to do that to this day.
I have continued to carry this idea with me today. It’s why I have been able to collaborate with so many other specialists on projects, it’s how I will become a published author next year, it’s how I’ve gotten the jobs I have today.
So how can you create your own collaborative community?
- Support others when you can.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Look for student groups that are supporting each other, they exist.
- Lead your university’s student group with a culture of support and information sharing.
- Learn to take and give constructive feedback.
- Find people with similar goals and work together to achieve them!
This profession is filled with amazing, creative, collaborative individuals. It’s up to you to surround yourself with other supportive individuals so that we can all achieve our goals.