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So, it is time to find a job and establish an independent professional identity. It can be a challenge to begin thinking about this transition after working for years towards training-related goals, such as matching to a great internship, getting a doctoral degree and obtaining post-doctoral experiences that are in line with your career goals. It may be tough to think about transitioning from the student identity that you have held for so long, consider your journey to independence, or concretely articulate exactly what kind of position you are seeking. Below are a few key questions and tips to consider that may be helpful in navigating this process.

Consider your ideal job 

One of the greatest benefits of a degree in clinical psychology is the diversity of training that it offers; at the same time, this diversity can also make it more confusing to begin thinking about what type of job you might want. Consider this: In an ideal position, what proportion of time would you want to spend doing research, clinical work, teaching and/or consultation? There are many opportunities in the field of trauma and PTSD, so recognizing your ideal breakdown of time commitments and responsibilities will assist in narrowing the scope of jobs that are right for you. 

Be open-minded

There is definitely a tendency to start with the typical search terms, “clinical psychologist”, “psychology + assistant professor,” etc. when beginning a job search. Getting involved in professional organizations, such as ISTSS, can be a great way to hear about potential positions. Joining listservs and the typical search engines (e.g., Indeed, Workopolis) can aid in identifying specific jobs in the areas of trauma and PTSD. However, there are also many other work environments where you could be a potential fit! For example, maybe your line of research would fit nicely within a School of Public Health or your clinical and research skills would meet the needs of a position within a consulting firm. There are also health administration positions, for which the necessary qualifications often involve a doctorate degree in a health sciences-related field. Think outside the box!

Know your values

Being in the job market can be tough and it is so important to remember what matters most to you, both personally and professionally. Identify considerations you might have had in the past: potential mentors or colleagues conducting trauma and PTSD research in line with your interests, opportunities in which to do more trauma-focused assessment and intervention, or a collaborative environment. What about practical considerations such as geographical location or stipend/salary? Chances are that many of the considerations you have identified in applying for graduate school and internship will still be important as you transition to a job, but some values may have changed. Start by identifying your ‘musts’ and ‘deal breakers’. Networking with individuals can also be helpful in identifying positions that fit with your values. 

Consider your work/life balance

Work/life balance deserves special consideration, as it can be easily overlooked. It is worth thinking about how you would want a typical week to look. Consider not only the working hours, but also the ratio between work and personal time. Be mindful of the answer to this question as you apply and interview for different positions. This will help you as you negotiate offers. Envision yourself at a particular place or in a position; jobs are meant to be longer-term than internship and graduate school, and you want to establish a sustainable schedule at a place that will enhance both productivity and well-being. Work/life balance can be helpful in enhancing quality of life and preventing burnout! 

Best of luck! 

About the Author

Natalie P. Mota, PhD, is currently a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. In August she will transition to a position as a psychologist and assistant professor at the Crisis Response Centre/University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.