Speech Pathology: Nyssa Johnson

With a Master of Speech Pathology under her belt, Nyssa now works as a Student Support Services Speech Pathologist in the Department of Education and Training.

Tell me about your current role and your professional and educational background? How long have you worked in your current role?

An interest in the communication of stroke survivors and my time volunteering at the Victorian Stroke Association led me to enrol in the Masters of Speech Pathology. Prior to that, I studied theatre, travelled, working in a pharmacy and taught acting to children, all of which helped me to understand my desire to work in a helping role.

I currently work as a Student Support Services speech pathologist in the Department of Education and Training. This means I travel around to a different school each day of the week, working closely with school leadership to provide multidisciplinary delivery of the speech pathology service at their school. The students I see have a diverse range of difficulties and disorders. This, of course, informs my work and means my role is generalist in nature, allowing me to hone skills in assessment and referrals to external services. The intervention I provide is unique to the Department of Education and Training, given the opportunity to align goals and outcomes with the Victorian curriculum. I have worked in my current role for two and a half years, prior to this I worked in a similar position in a different area for two years. In two weeks I am due to start a new role in Early Intervention through SCOPE disability service. This will allow me to experience a new aspect of speech pathology, where I’ll be working with a different age group and within a new service delivery model. I am both excited and nervous about the change.

How did you go about finding your job? What techniques, websites, contacts, networks did you utilise to get your job?

I was very proactive in finding my first job. I understood the competitiveness of graduate roles in Melbourne and got my applications in early. Before I even sat my final exams, I had written my resume and prepared myself to apply for jobs in the week following my final exam. I chose to spend an extra week applying for jobs rather than beginning my post-Masters celebrations. I utilised the University of Melbourne careers service and website to assist me to write top quality applications. I asked people to proofread, which while time-consuming, is crucial step in a professional application. I searched for jobs on generic employment websites but also on the HR websites specific to the organisation. For example, Department of Education and Training jobs are usually only advertised on their own HR job search website. The exhaustion of writing job applications immediately after my final exam paid off as I secured a position out of those applications in early October.

What do you like most about working at your organisation?

The opportunity to work with many professionals with a shared aim of improving the educational outcomes for all children, regardless of their background.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your professional career?

To pace myself, I worked very hard in my first year, thinking that I would be able to learn everything I needed to learn in that year. I almost burnt myself out before I realised that I’d be continuously learning for the rest of my career.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students who are graduating soon and are looking to work in speech pathology?

Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't feel like you're expected to know everything that an experienced speech pathologist knows. It seems obvious, but so often we get thrown in the deep end and it seems as if people expect us to know it all. It's okay to ask for floaties. Sometimes others forget to offer them to us but they do know we need them when we’re just starting out.