Meg Crotty, Psy.D.
Clinical Health Psychology Fellow
Baptist Health/Wolfson Children’s
Early Career Psychologist. It was not easy, but we finally made it! I recently saw a video that resonated with me and my graduate school experience up to this point in my career. Essentially the video discussed how you eat, study, cry, workout, celebrate, and mourn life events with your cohort for years to go onto internships/fellowships across the country and never hear from them again. Those people that know you better than your own family at this point are whisked away and while proud for all the accomplishments, it sucks.
Internship and fellowship can be a trying time as you continue to navigate imposter syndrome, a new job or two, and of course begin studying for the dreaded EPPP all without your trusty graduate school friends. Feeling lost, tired, hungry, you try to foster relationships with those peers from graduate school and begin to build new ones with mentors, colleagues and other professionals.
While navigating these pivotal points of my career throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a unique set of challenges, I have been extremely grateful for the increase in virtual platforms to interact with my cohort. As we continue this journey as early career psychologist and beyond, how can we continue to support one another from afar?
For myself, I have found that being genuine, actively listening, and encouraging each other to be the most helpful. I find that I have grown and continue to grow professionally due to being genuine to myself and those around me. I actively listen to my peers, mentors and colleagues and when I may be lacking in an area, I will educate myself to be the best professional I can be.
It may seem silly to continue to focus on peers from graduate school, but these individuals were in the thick of it with you for quite some time. I had a great group of talented individuals I looked up to and from whom I learned a lot. I want to continue celebrating their personal and professional wins whether from afar or with them. In order to make sure we are all able to continue providing this incredible work I encourage the practice of self-care and they reciprocate.
Some of ways I have made a point to encourage this is by scheduling zoom meetings for short times that people can pop into when able. Sending or receiving text messages of encouragement. Completing fitness competitions on apple watch and sending the fun little messages to one another when we reach a goal or close a ring (parameters set by apple watches to keep you moving throughout the day). Finally, scheduling trips to conferences, if able, to see those people and share in person all the wonderful things we have been able to do as early career psychologist. Inevitably conversations begin to migrate towards the work we have been doing or plan to do and soon enough these individuals transform from peers to trusted professional colleagues that challenge you to continue growing.
Bringing it back to the video I mentioned earlier, there are people that come into your professional lives at different phases and while very appreciative of supervisors and mentors who help foster your professional growth, don’t forget about those individuals who once knew your schedule (because they were on the same one) and cheered for you as you matched for internship. Those people that cried with you, laughed with you, and grew into excellent early career psychologist with you.