Jess is currently completing a PhD in the area of speech and language phenotyping for individuals with a cleft of the lip and/or palate, which is an area she has always had a strong interest in.
Tell me about your current role and your professional and educational background? How long have you worked in your current role?
I have completed a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Linguistics and Art History) and a Master of Speech Pathology. I am currently completing a PhD in the area of speech and language phenotyping for individuals with a cleft of the lip and/or palate, through the University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI).
In addition to my studies I currently have three clinical roles in different settings. Firstly, I am a Coordinator and speech pathologist at the Koolin Balit Children's Clinic (KBCC) which is part of cohealth (Community Health). In this role, I coordinate and work within a multi-disciplinary team that provides health assessments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home-care. I have worked in this role for one year. Prior to this, I was working within cohealth as a paediatric speech pathologist.
I also work as a Speech Pathologist at The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH), in the Cleft Clinic.
Lastly, I’ve also worked in private practice for the last three and a half years, providing a broad range of speech pathology services to children of all ages and with a range of difficulties.
How did you go about finding your jobs? What techniques, websites, contacts, networks did you use to get your job?
I started working at cohealth after completing my Masters degree. At this time, I found the role advertised on seek.com, interviewed and commenced working as a speech pathologist. When I started my PhD, I expressed a desire to maintain clinical work within the organisation where possible - the opportunity to work within the KBCC came up and I took it.
At the Royal Children's Hospital I was interviewed for an advertised position. I had also established links with the RCH speech pathology team through my PhD research at MCRI.
For my work in private practice, I met my current practice manager at a Victorian speech pathology ‘Bilingualism Interest Group’. Through discussions after the meeting, I started working here.
After graduating from my Masters degree, I maintained relationships with my thesis supervisors and so they contacted me when the PhD opportunity came up.
What do you like most about working at your organisation?
I currently spend most of my time completing my PhD! I enjoy the constant learning through rigorous questioning and animated discussion. The University of Melbourne and MCRI provide rich environments for continuous critical engagement and reflection.
What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your professional career?
There will always be new jobs, opportunities and networks. If you don't get a job - or your ideal job - right away, keep your eyes open and continue seeking opportunities for growth and development, never settle.
What is one piece of advice you would give to students who are graduating soon and are looking to work in Speech Pathology?
Find your point of difference, something personal that goes beyond learned theory and academic ability. In this helping profession, your personality has more of an impact than you think.