Career Development at AYS

AYS welcomed Ellie and Sophie as Peer Mentors back in 2020, when they were the midst of studying Occupational Therapy at Deakin University. Today, both are well and truly settling into their new roles as Occupational Therapists (OTs) after participating in the 2024 Graduate Program.

For years in the Peer Mentor role, both worked hard to empower participants to build their capacity, get positive outcomes, and help them live their lives as best they could. Upon reflection, having experience as Peer Mentors has undoubtedly helped them with the transition.

Ellie says, “Having a good understanding of the systems, culture, and being exposed to the workplace helped prepare me, as well as learning where care teams sit in the participant/family dynamic.” Sophie credits her time as a Peer Mentor for helping her manage expectations, professional boundaries, and working in a community setting. She continues by explaining that “the Peer Mentor and Therapy Assistant roles were building us up to be Occupational Therapists; we just didn’t know it.” Specifically, Sophie remembers working with a participant with severe social anxiety whereby she couldn’t leave their home. Over time, Sophie supported this participant to overcome this barrier. “It taught me the importance of appreciating the small milestones. As an OT, having this understanding helped modify expectations around progress and goal attainment,” explained Sophie.

Ellie highlights the importance of investing time into relationship building and supporting participants in all aspects of life before moving on to therapy. “You need to put in the groundwork into rapport building, like I did as a Peer Mentor.” They say adjusting to full-time work and not studying took them a while to get used to. Without studying, they can now switch off when they get home after a long day. The Graduate Program is structured, and there is plenty of support available. Sophie’s advice for others looking to transition into other roles at AYS is to “take as many chances as you can. Don’t be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone and ask questions if you have them. Be courageous.”

Ellie and Sophie are among many former Peer Mentors who go on to progress their careers in other departments at AYS. They model themselves on the graduates who were in this position this time last year; “having them close to you makes you feel less alone, and seeing how far they’ve come is motivating.”

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