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Not Even Sure Where to Start
August 21, 2014 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I need a new job but I'm not sure where to even start looking. I don't feel like I'm qualified to do much of anything but what I'm doing now but I am BURNT OUT! So what's a 20 something with a sorta-liberal arts degree who hasn't done much but hang out with kids all day supposed to do?

I've been an aba (applied behavior analysis) thearapist for about 2.5 years now. Burn out is very common from what I understand. I've enjoyed working with kids with autism and I enjoy the problem solving aspect of my job but the position I've been in for close to a year (doing home based therapy) has many more bad days than good. I haven't liked this position since the beginning (it's very issolating, not much collaboration between therapists, parents being disrespectful, not given enough hours and inconsistent scheduling. I could go on.)
I would like to continue working with kids with special needs but I'd also rather not work in a school setting. I'm open do doing something else but since all I've ever done is work with kids I truly don't know where to even apply.

My resume looks something like:
Home based Aba therapist
Center based aba therapist (loved it here! Great coworkers, lots of consistency and communication .Finding another place like it has proven difficult)
Girl Scouts schools day program for low income Jr high girls (I'm apparently awkward around awkward teenagers but our subject matter [relationships, health, goal setting] was fun. Everyone was super chill too.)
Camp for adults with special needs (liked it but was over resident camp after doing it for so long and everyone was so much more extraverted than I am)
Art camp (it was fine, nothing noteworthy to even say...)
Girl scout camp (both as a counselor and program directo at the camp I grew up going to. So much fun! Learned a lot about myself and how I deal with/ lead people.)
Liberal studies-ish degree from an art school

So I've done a lot but I don't have a broad experience. I would like to get out of this company asap! I'm applying for a position at the local Girl Scout council but I would like to broaden my job search. I am planning on going to grad school for something eventually but its been hard to pinpoint what I'd like to do.
So what's a job (not even necessarily a career) where there's opportunities for collaborating and problem solving but mostly working as an individual, some chances to have fun/ be silly, and preferably with humans other than adults...
posted by missriss89 to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are there people in your field that seem to have the kind of job you want? If so, talk to them about how they got there.
Don't go to grad school unless you have a specific idea of how it is going to get you where you want to be.
posted by k8t at 9:25 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


No idea whether getting practically no money for two years is workable for you, but it seems like you would be a strong candidate to be a youth development volunteer with the Peace Corps.
posted by solotoro at 1:26 AM on August 22


My mom has the exact same job you do; my husband, sister, and a few friends work in related fields.

Camphill
Day programs for young adults or job support programs
Group homes (either permanent or transitioning young adults)
Art or play therapy (could be any age)
posted by jrobin276 at 2:58 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I'll also say that camps vary on their own accord, not by type. You just as easily could have found an awesome art camp, mediocre special needs camp, and an awful GS camp where you didn't fit in. It's really dependent on the camp director, the culture, and finding a good fit.

If you're open to recommendations in CA (even if it's just for research purposes) memail me and I can list some places where my various family members have worked.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:06 AM on August 22


Jesus, with your background and enthusiasm for working with kids, I would knock over 100 applicants in a massive rush to hire you as a special education teacher.

I've hired many former ABAs. I know how isolating and hard the factors of that job can be, but I also get a sense that you find the actual work with the kids uplifting and rewarding.

If this is true for you, consider special education or Occupational Therapy or Art Therapy.

People with your CV who enjoy the work are incredibly hard to find.

I would suggest that you try subbing as a special ed teacher OR as an Art teacher or an Instructional Assistant (they get to do the more hands-on stuff) and get a feel for working in a school.

I set up the PDD/Autism elementary program in a school district, and had one isolated section for the most severe, non-verbal kids and another program for verbal kids who required tremendous support.

Both programs were integrated into the overall larger school, which sounds like a feature you'd like.

I'd give teaching a try for a bit. We need people like you!
posted by kinetic at 3:07 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I think the hard part is, schools are the natural fit. I spent two years as an aide in a special needs classroom, and 8 summers as a n assistant in our corresponding summer program and I'm now training to be a speech pathologist who would love to work in the same setting, just as a therapist. But I do understand how one can get really burned out in a school setting. People tend to either leave the school setting rather quickly or they stay there for life.

You have a lot of experience in camps but from your description of what you don't like, I don't know if that is going to offer you the consistency you want. In my community there's been a big push in getting even students with severe needs more involved in their community so even though you may work with the school, your focus would be on helping oyur students to find employment or day hab facilities.

Another similar option is working for rehabilitation and vocational services, or what they call the support system for getting disabled adults to work in your state. You wouldn't be working with kids but it's an idea.

Though you hate your job now, you said you like the center based job so could you search for another job like that? Personally I would hate being a home based therapist and a good number of speech pathologist jobs are homebased for early intervention and I just hate that setting.

Unfortenately if you want to work with special needs kids but don't want to work in a school, it's fairly limiting.
posted by Aranquis at 4:56 AM on August 22


My hesitation about working in a school setting stems from hearing so many negative things from people (other than teachers) who have worked in them. And the city I'm in doesn't have th e best track record... But I guess if I were able to find a position without a teaching certificate, I would only have to commit for one year. School is about to start though so I worry all the hiring has already been done. I'll look into a vocational program and art therapy too.
I've thought about occupational therapy and speech pathology for grad school but that isn't a short term goal yet.
Thanks guys. I feel like I'm back where I was after graduating college!
posted by missriss89 at 5:17 AM on August 22


I can't speak to where you are, but right now I'm in the process of hiring FIVE new teachers and school starts in 4 days.
posted by kinetic at 7:04 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I wonder if you might consider working in a research environment? Back when I worked in an university's autism research program, we'd have loved to snap someone with your background up as a research associate to do diagnostic and cognitive assessments with our participants. You'd have kept working with special needs (and neurotypical) kids but in a much more collaborative and consistent environment. It's not a super-high-paying job so I don't know how big an issue that would have been, but my guess is with your background you'd have had some negotiating leverage.

Might be something to consider, if you have universities or research hospitals near you.
posted by Stacey at 9:18 AM on August 22


I have a friend who does speech therapy with children. She does a combination of contracting with a therapy provider to do in-home therapy and having a few private clients on the side.
posted by harrietthespy at 10:01 AM on August 22


I think I would enjoy research! And I am in a city with lots of universities and hospitals. What key words should I use to search for these positions?
posted by missriss89 at 1:29 PM on August 22


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