Although Julia Montgomery dreamed of becoming a singer, she thought practically by following a career path that could not only work with singers but help others along the way. In Julia’s mind, working with singers as a speech language pathologist seems like the perfect blend of science and art; combining a dream with an exciting reality. Now that Julia is on her way to the Master of Science program in Speech-Language Pathology at UBC, she is looking forward to learning about voice and dysphagia, but is also considering working with children.
Julia further emphasizes her practical thinking as she explains one of the biggest takeaways from the Linguistics program is that in order to answer a question to the best of your ability, you must really break it down, to consider the assumptions that underlie a lot of statements and not take the things she has learned for granted. Her love for problem solving is evident in her thought process, emphasizing why she will make an amazing speech language pathologist.
Through a Q and A session, Julia offers some great advice for SFU students thinking about a career in speech language pathology:
Q: A big aspect of the Speech Language Pathology application seems to be volunteer experience. What kind of volunteer experience did you have? How did this experience relate to your goal?
I worked as a behaviour interventionist briefly, shadowed SLPs in schools, help run a stroke recovery group once a week, both volunteer and work in SLP-A positions and volunteered in a children’s social group supervised by an SLP. I also volunteered in the injury prevention and mobility lab helping analyze videos of falls in care homes.
All these positions gave me some insight into what types of therapy I like and gave me the chance to work with some of the other professionals that might be on the teams of the individuals I will be working with when I am an SLP. They also gave me the chance to ask a ton of questions, which I loved! Hands on work was helpful for allowing me to figure out how all my coursework did (or didn’t!) apply to the real world.
Q: How did you build a strong SLP application?
I said ‘yes’ to a lot of things! I found that most opportunities led to other opportunities and gave me a chance to connect with a lot of great SLPs. I really focused in on building an application that showed that I had tried out lots of different things – research, working with kids in several different settings, and working with adults. I learned what works for me in terms of course load size and how busy I could be outside of school and stick to it.
Additionally, I engaged with current topics in the field. I figured out what was important to me and then found and attended online talks and seminars about those topics to help me learn more. In my letter of intent talked about how learning about these things influenced my current work and how I planned to continue to grow in these areas in the future. I think this helped me portray what kind of therapist I want to be and how I am working towards becoming that therapist.
Q: What advice can you offer future SLP applicants?
Try to figure out what kind of resume you want to build early on, but you don’t necessarily have to do everything at once! It’s OK to work on gaining experience with one population, and then later use that experience to apply to other, different positions that provide you with the breadth you need to build a strong application. It’s not too late to add new experiences to your resume and your LOI until you’ve hit the submit button, so don’t be afraid to tackle weaker areas in your final year.
More than anything else, though, figure out what’s important to you and go for it. You don’t have to love every part of the field, but you do need clear goals to articulate in your LOI. You might be excited about a specific area of research or a particular approach to therapy. Whatever it is, take steps to learn about how you can meet your goals and share that with the admission committee so that they know, too. Similarly, don’t be afraid to pursue unrelated hobbies! Powerlifting has been such an amazing de-stressor for me and I’m glad that I made time for it.
CONSIDERING A CAREER IN SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY?
The Certificate in the Linguistics of Speech Science (CLSS) provides an understanding of the sound system and grammatical system of language and applies that knowledge to language acquisition, speech-language pathology, and more.SPEECH AND HEARING CLUB
Join the student-led SFU Speech and Hearing Club (Shlub) and connect with your peers on everything related to speech-language pathology and audiology.
Article Written by Michelle Beninteso