My residency was coming to an end and the search for the perfect job was going to be my next new beginning. I had been so focused on my academics for the last five years that I quickly found myself somewhat perplexed. What was the next step from here? Panic was setting in… What was the ideal practice modality for me? What were my passions within optometry? What did I want to specialize in? Where do I even begin looking to find the perfect professional fit for me?

With all of these questions looming above my head, I naturally became very overwhelmed. I realized that, before presenting myself to potential employers, I needed a game plan. I started with the most basic step by making sure my curriculum vitae was up to date and highlighting my strengths as a potential candidate. I thought about which aspects of optometry excited me the most and what assets I could bring to a practice. I had just completed an arduous year of residency specializing in ocular disease with a subspecialty in pediatric, and was hoping to find a job that would continue to challenge me in those areas. I also wanted a workplace where the employees were happy and worked together as a team.

Venturing into the job market I had promised myself that I would not just “settle” for any job, no matter how long my search took. I searched for job openings online at sites like “Indeed,” “ODs on Facebook,” my state association’s career portal, as well as my school’s career portal. Recognizing the opportunity to work in different settings, I applied for a job at a hospital, a private practice and a corporation. This allowed me to feel as though I had all the bases covered.

When I began attending interviews at the different facilities I noticed some definite similarities between them. They all seemed to want to know me, my personal interests and my goals for my optometric career. I was pleasantly surprised that I was rarely asked a clinical question during an interview, as my potential future employers trusted my knowledge based on my credentials listed in my C.V.

While those similarities existed, I also noted the distinct differences in the focus of my interviews. During my hospital interview, the focus was on my ability to coordinate care with other providers as part of an interdisciplinary team. At the private practice, it was vital for the employer to know how well my personality would correspond with the office staff and the patient base. Lastly, at the corporate office it was essential for the interviewer to know that I could work quickly, yet efficiently, providing excellent care despite a high volume of patients.

From my perspective, interview day was not only my day to impress my potential employer, but also a day for me, as the potential employee, to “interview” the practice and to learn the employer’s goals for their practice. I made certain to have questions ready in my mind to ask at each location I visited, such as: what is the standard of care, how is the office run, and how frequently are patients scheduled?

After accepting three job offers I felt excited and relieved, as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I am currently working in a hospital-based setting, a private practice and a corporate office. Each one has its pros and cons and every day is a little bit different. While the experience of job searching is behind me, new challenges lie ahead and this process continues to keep me on my toes. I am being challenged in more ways than I could have imagined, both with complex clinical cases and learning practice management skills.

Although things may change in the future, for the here and now, I could not be happier with how things turned out. I am excited as each day unfolds and look forward to seeing what the future brings!