Getting a job as an occupational therapist – speaking from an experience
- Setting my priority
In reality, you can’t be too picky about what kind of job to get as a non-immigrant worker. So you have to set your priority – do you really want to work in this country for more than a year? Or is it more important for you to gain more training and experience in advanced clinical setting?
My priority was to gain more work experience in the states for more than a year. That means I would need a visa support, and I knew that there’s a good chance that I would not be able to work in a hospital setting. I still looked into it because but kept my mind open to other settings.
- Conducting job search
As I continue job search, mainly on Google and job sites likes indeed.com, monster.com, LinkedIn etc. I also went to a career fair at school and it helped me to get a sense of who’s out there, and it was helpful to see them face-to-face; it made me feel less nervous to see that they are all people in the end.
I found that there are a lot of opportunities are either in agencies or skilled nursing facilities (SNF). I also searched who has supported more work visa. I looked more into agencies because they had more choices in terms of settings – mainly schools and SNF, with occasional openings in hospitals that usually required some experience.
- Applying for jobs
A nice thing about applying for an agency is that it’s really simple. Sometimes you just have to give your contact information and what kind of position you are looking for (e.g. occupational therapist) and they’ll give you a call. If they liked you as a candidate, then they’ll ask for a resume.
For most of the other employers, they usually have an internet application system that looks quite similar to each other. It is a quite excessive process that requires uploading your resume and references, in addition to typing in list of your work/education/and skills.
It is tiring, so set your proprieties and preferences, and go one by one.
I had some phone interviews, and few in-person interviews. Most phone interviews were with agencies. They tend to be very on point – they straight up ask what payment range you are looking for, and if you are licensed (as I told them that I just graduated). Some even asked if I needed visa support – and as I interviewed for more and more companies, I asked this question first. It was completely okay. They just really don’t want to waste anybody’s time. These are more of screenings question because those are the requirements they cannot bend. They also ask about your general experience but it’s more secondary in this scanning process. If you meet the qualification, the agency will send your information to various organizations that might need your service. If one of them likes your resume, then you will have the actual interview.
By actual interview, I mean an interview with the supervisor at where you would be working whether it is a school, SNF, or hospital. These are the typical job interview you can imagine it to be. One question that might be agency specific is ‘why are you applying through an agency instead of working with us directly.’ For international students, it’s probably because of visa support.
I had in-person interviews with a hospital and an rehab company. These might look closer to what you imagine of how an interview would look like. You share your experience and interests, why they should hire you and why you applied to the company/hospital. Discussion regarding visa support or salary may come up and if not, you would not have to bring it up at this point.
- Offer letters
Once you finished all the interviews (with both the agency and organizations that you will be working for) you will get an offer letter. That is of course, only if the organizations you interviewed for actually liked you. Agencies can keep search for more work options for you, but they won’t actually hire you until you actually get a job from an organization. Once an organization liked you from an interview, you will finally get an offer letter. This is where you actually negotiate your salary and benefit.