University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog | Noelle

Noelle

9 to 5? Working in Grad School
Posted , by Noelle

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Whether you are looking to earn a little spending money or pay next month’s rent, having a part-time job in grad school is definitely a possibility and reality for students here at Chan.  On top of managing their coursework, I know babysitters, bartenders, and tutors, people who teach tennis lessons, pick up ride-sharers on their daily commute, and run their own businesses (check out Kevin’s side hustle if you haven’t already).  Amazing right?!

As for me, I was a waitress during my first year and now work as a student ambassador. I remember applying for the waitressing job back in September 2018, nervous about having never held a tray in my life before, but more so, unsure of how I was going to maintain both a job and school.  My only prior work experience was a low key student worker position that fit nicely into my flexible undergrad schedule, so I felt way in over my head just a couple weeks into grad school.

I was hired and started right as my first level one fieldwork began (great timing I know 😬) It was definitely a challenge at first to find a reasonable schedule and really, to learn how to be a waitress from scratch.  But once I started getting into the groove (stopped spilling drinks and forgetting orders), it got way easier and dare I say fun? I worked on the school nights before fieldwork (because no homework was due the next day), weekends, and picked up extra shifts if it was a slower week at school.  It was helpful that the restaurant was close to home/shuttle stop and my employers were pretty flexible about my schedule.


waiting tables

Taken on my last day of work..doing my best not to spill!

And I LOVED it.  It was a great fit for my personality, gave me a little break from my student identity, and provided a whole different education and skill set. Second to my Level II fieldwork, it is my most prized bullet point on my resumé.  It wasn’t all peaches and cream though.  There were lots of late nights, crammed weekends, missed events, and several moments I had to remind myself that school was the priority.  But I am so glad to have done it…and not just for the tips!

Of course, working during grad school looks very different from person to person.  And my experience is just one example of how to make it work.

For this week’s song rec, let’s throw it back to 1973 with “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays, a song I would frequently blast on my way home after a long day at the restaurant. 

 

Noelle

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!
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I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. They make me nervous…too much pressure.  I prefer to take a much softer, guilt-free approach.  At the start of every new year (and/or birthday), I take out my journal and sift through past entries, making sure to check out my predictions from the last new year.  See, instead of resolutions, I write general but confident predictions for the year ahead. I don’t know how to describe it, but I have a kind of future vision—no, not like That’s So Raven—let’s just call it an intuition and its usually pretty spot on.

This year is a bit different though, because it doesn’t take a psychic or even intuition to know 2020 is going to be a big one.  Graduation, the board exam, beginning my OTD residency…I mean really! So I’d be naïve and lying if I didn’t say I have a few goals that are on my mind at the start of this semester, and very important year.

The first one is basic: To keep up with my readings. This is not to say that I didn’t do 100% of all my readings thus far 😏, but that I feel it is especially important as to get the most out of my elective courses.  I also want to get into the habit of reading scholarly things on a regular basis so that I am an OT who stays current and curious to learn.

Another, more exciting goal is to cook more frequently and to accumulate more dishes for my domestic resumé.  If you know me, you know I live on Kraft mac n cheese, Trader Joe’s butter chicken, and pot stickers.  And you know what, if that is your lifestyle too no judgment here! But I’m 22 years old and it has occurred to me that not only do I not enjoy/know how to cook, I do not know how to grocery shop!  Luckily, I have a “therapist” (a fellow OTS) in my Lifestyle Redesign® elective to help me master this IADL.

My first homemade soup!

This was my first dish of the semester that I’m super proud of…Tomato and roasted red pepper soup with ground beef, potatoes, and carrots! I’ll confess that Trader Joe was the one who made the base but hey! I browned beef, sliced and boiled vegetables, expertly sprinkled some extra seasoning in the pot, AND did all the dishes afterwards so BABY STEPS! (my therapist is really proud)

The last goal I’ll mention because this is getting long, is to find a nice place to live after graduation. As much as I love the OT house, I think its time to explore another area and experience what its like to live apart from a university.  I have never had to go apartment hunting before, so that’s going to be new.  We’ll see how that goes, I’ll probably blog about it once I get closer to making a decision.

So that’s where I am at this semester. Stay tuned for new recipes, LA apartment hunting adventures, and more!

I’m hoping you already know David Bowies’s “Changes” as referenced in the title of this blog so here’s a song I’ve just added to my Venti Vibes playlist (AKA my study songs): “Sleeping Lessons” by The Shins.  Enjoy!

Noelle

OT in the HOUSE
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Warning: time lapsed commute may cause motion sickness 😬 skip to 2:00 for just the apartment

I want everyone to know that I made this on iMovie ON MY PHONE and I am not the most tech savvy so bear with me 😊

I originally wanted the background music to double as my song recommendation (“Home” by Dan Croll)...but alas, couldn’t make it happen.  The background music is “Extra Jolly” by Mark Mothersbaugh

Noelle

California Love
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I have been based in Los Angeles for four years now and have lived in Southern California my whole life.  Not a shabby place to be by any means but when I found out that we could go “out of area” forlevel II fieldwork , I jumped at the chance.  Now the story of how I got to New York is a long one involving waiting tables, countless meetings with the fieldwork team, and a lot of persistence…but I’ll save that for another blog post.
 
I spent three glorious months in the city that never sleeps and as much as I missed the beach and predictable weather, I was not ready to come back home.  In an attempt to ease the blow, I returned with a new resolution—to rekindle my love of Los Angeles.  When I was in New York, I was determined to make the most of the limited time I had.  I spent many happy hours on rooftops and patios, took side trips to museums, flea markets, parks, walked home from fieldwork on nice days just to take in the city.  What’s stopping me from doing those things in LA?! Well, besides school, work, and traffic, NOTHING!  But seriously, I have taken this city for granted and considering I don’t know how long I’ll be here after graduation, I thought I’d better start taking advantage of it. 
So here are some things I’ve been doing to keep “New York Noelle” alive:

  • The Graduate Student Government (GSG) hosts fun outings (with discounts!) like happy hours at trendy bars, local sporting events, and volunteer opportunities—all of which are great ways to explore the city and meet other grad students.  I would recommend getting on their email list to get regular updates!
  • Noelle rooting on the Dodgers

    Me and my best friend at a Dodgers game in September. We got to sit in the section that had unlimited food so thanks GSG!

  • There are also lots of social events that happen with other OT students.  Student organizations like OTSC and PTE plan fun outings like happy hour hangouts and roller-skating.
  • I’m on an informal trivia team with a group of math PhD’s (I actually met them at a GSG event). University Park Campus has a weekly trivia at Tommy’s Place, but we also like to try different restaurants/bars too.
  • To make studying a little more exciting, I’ve extended the radius of my study spots.  I live at the OT House close to the main campus so the local coffee shops and libraries are convenient and lovely, but after 4 years, very familiar.  I’ve found some hidden gems in Korea Town, Echo Park, Hollywood, Santa Monica etc. that make studying for adult rehab feel like an event!

So far this resolution has served me well.  My wanderlust is satiated and I feel lucky to call Los Angeles home.

This week’s song rec: Who doesn’t love 2Pac’s “California Love”? But if you want to try something completely different check out Joni Mitchell’s “California”.

Noelle

Fieldwork Makes the Dream Work
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Last Wednesday marked my last first day of Level I Fieldwork ever! Now, the words “fieldwork placement” tend to elicit different emotions from different students.  I know I for one get a weird mix of excitement and anxiety that results in an expression resembling the nervous smile emoji—what if I hate where I’m placed? What if it’s my new dream job? What if I don’t get along with the Clinical Instructor? Oh god what’s the commute going to look like? I just hope there’s parking…😬

I’m not going to lie, those thoughts raced through my mind at the start of every semester including this one. But I’ve made it to this point and can confidently say that my fieldwork experience has been one of the highlights of this program for me. And it’s not because I was placed at any particular site or found my absolute dream position.  I made a commitment to myself last fall that I was going to trust the process. HA! Trust the process?! Yeah it wasn’t easy.  I forced myself to let go of the expectations that where I was placed was going to determine my future job, OTD, etc (it sounds ridiculous to me now but I felt that back then).  Luckily for me though, I have always been a “it is what you make it” kind of girl, and I believe that attitude served me very well when it came to fieldwork.  At each placement, I found aspects I loved and will now seek out as well as things I really didn’t like and will avoid when I’m looking for positions in the future. I discovered new things about OT, about myself, that I may not have had I chosen my placements.  By trusting the process and seeing level I fieldwork for what it is—an opportunity to get exposed to a population and a setting—I can move forward with no regrets and lots of lessons learned for wherever the process takes me next!

After all this “trust the process” talk, how could I not recommend Etta James’s “Trust in Me”?

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