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The Three N's for the New Professional

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Post The Three N's for the New Professional   Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:35 am


Ok, so maybe not three but I think you get the picture. This journey to becoming a new professional in the field of mental health is one full of curiosity, questions, and believe it or not answers. It seems that around the second quarter of internship, you soon learn that those years of graduate school will definitely not be the end of the learning process. As with some other professions, graduating with a degree may be all you need in order to enter the field. With the wonderful field of mental health counseling, the student steps off the graduation stage into a field full of opportunities, learning experiences, licensure requirements, examinations, and various areas of specialty. In order to be successful in entering the field we must be prepared to arm ourselves with knowledge, news, and networking.

The term "knowledge is the key to success" may be cliché, but definitely applies to professional and personal success. In my experience, I was the bashful student that would have preferred for opportunity to come my way. Of course, I slowly evolved into an opposite state of mind, in which it became my responsibility to myself and to the field that I go out and hunt for opportunity. To prepare for this hunt, I became armed with the first of the three weapons, knowledge. Knowledge became my best friend. There was knowledge to be found on specialties in the field, knowledge to be found on taking the state exams, knowledge on licensure requirements, knowledge on further education. I went into knowledge overload. With the armor of knowledge, the gift of confidence was bestowed upon me. I was confident enough to take the next steps, ask questions for clarification, and to make some decisions regarding the direction that I wanted to go with my degree.

Next we have news. There is another saying "no news is good news." Well, it is in this writer's opinion that no news is not good news. News is the evidence of movement. The counseling field is an ever-moving and ever-growing field and it is important for the new professional to be aware of which direction the field is moving. By reading and researching the news, we are aware of the progress that has been made within the profession. Most recently, news on progress made with the Veterans' Administration, made history. So, now, the new professional knows that the Veterans' Administration is another opportunity that can be researched. This is just one example of how the news can change the course of events in the new professionals' career.

Finally, we have moved on to networking. Networking can be a huge obstacle for the new professional that may not be accustomed to seeking information from people rather than reading and researching online. With networking, it is important to realize that there is no more abundant information than the information offered by human experience. A network is defined as a person that exchanges information with others working in a similar field to further their career. A network forms by sharing information with someone, who will then share that information with someone else, and so forth. There are no clear and cut rules to networking. One main aspect of networking is that it is a give and take relationship. In saying this, it is important to understand that new or seasoned, there is always information to be shared. Networking can be as simple as handing your resume to a colleague at lunch, while discussing personal or professional progress. This is the take aspect. On the other hand, networking might just be passing on information to a fellow colleague regarding an article that you researched and that was relevant to their specialty area. This is the give aspect. Either way, the process of networking has begun and it is your responsibility as a new professional to continue the cycle of networking amongst those in the field.

In conclusion, this is the field of Human Services. Not only are we responsible, for servicing our clients, we are also responsible for servicing each other by sharing, researching, and utilizing the networks, news, and knowledge that we've acquired.

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