Shifting and Switching As Needed: Sam Walker from Speaking with Samantics

Episode 95 May 04, 2022 00:39:31
Shifting and Switching As Needed: Sam Walker from Speaking with Samantics
The Missing Link for SLPs
Shifting and Switching As Needed: Sam Walker from Speaking with Samantics

May 04 2022 | 00:39:31


Show Notes

In this episode, hear how Sam Walker has shifted and adapted her career since graduating, and some of the challenges and rewards along the way. She speaks about how she came to make the choice to become an SLP, and how the impacts of the pandemic unleashed her creative endeavors! Learn how she approaches the flexibility of SLP work and incorporates the ability to be flexible into her work, including helping new graduates take their first steps.

Visit for this episode's show notes, a full audio transcript and more great resources at the intersection of grad school and a successful SLP career. Not a substitute for a formal SLP education or medical advice for patients/caregivers. Fresh SLP is in no way affiliated with or representing any university.

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Episode Transcript

The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast Full Transcript Mattie Murrey 00:03 Welcome to The Missing Link for SLPs Podcast. Have you ever wished you could go back and tell your younger self a way to do something better, or something that you’ve learned, or, gosh, just those words of wisdom that you would have loved to have known when you first started? That's what this series is all about. I am interviewing guests, and we reflect back on their words of wisdom, and what they didn't learn in grad school. And you'll be surprised by each one of these episodes. So, sit back, listen, and enjoy. Our next guest is someone that I met at ASHA in Washington, DC, last November. Our booths were side by side. And then, when I started meeting with my students in my office, they'd open their laptops, and lo and behold, they would have the coolest screensavers, and the coolest stickers. I said, “Oh, where did you get that?” And they said”, “Speaking of Samantics”, and I'm like, “I know her!” So, I'd love to welcome Sam. Welcome to our episode today. Samantha Walker 01:07 Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Mattie Murrey 01:10 So you are Sam, with Speaking of Samantics. Samantha Walker 01:14 Yes, I am. And it's funny, because I get comments daily on Facebook on my stuff saying, “You spelt Samantics wrong!” And I'm like, “Yep, my name is Sam!”. Mattie Murrey 01:25 That was intentional. Samantha Walker 01:27 Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, I am Sam from Speaking of Samantics. Speaking of Samantics has actually – well, actually was never part of my timeline as a speech pathologist. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. And my mom kind of nudged me a little and was like, “Teachers are super overworked and underpaid. So, you should find a specialty”. And the reason she knew about speech pathology is because my older brother was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. So, she had lots of experience with speech pathologists and feeding for my older brother. So, she was like, “Why don't you try speech?” And I was like, okay. I had taken my first communication class the first semester of college, and I fell in love, and it was history since then. I went straight from undergrad to graduate school. I happened to get into one out of the nine schools that I applied to. Mattie Murrey 2:24 [crosstalk] Samantha Walker 02:25 Yeah. So, if you're listening, and you haven't applied or are applying soon, definitely apply to a lot because all you need is one. So, I went to this one school that I got into, and it was New York Medical College up in Westchester, New York. It is a medically based program. One of, I think, five in the country that are more medically based. And I went in there, after my mom had gotten sick back in 2015 from a kidney stone that had scraped her bladder, then she went septic, and then was intubated. So, I had the experience of my brother having speech pathology, more at pediatrics, and then from the more like adult medical side from my mom because she was on a ventilator, had a trach, and all of that. So, I was like, okay, I really love ventilators. I want to be in some sort of acute rehab. So, that's why – well, I mean, I had no choice to pick the school that I went to because it was the only one that I got into, but I was happy because it was a medically based SLP program, and I knew that I wanted to be a medical SLP. Come to find out my first externship was at a high school, and I was like I myself look like a high schooler. I don't know how I'm going to handle these kids that are probably towering over me with all their attitudes and such, but I fell in love. And most jobs since graduating from graduate school have been in a high school because I loved it so much. So, here's my first, I guess, piece of advice for grad students who are listening. If you go into grad school knowing you want to be a pediatric SLP or a medical SLP, always try the opposite, and I say that because you're a student. You can always blame anything, any mistake, on the fact that you're a student, you're still learning. Any opportunity after school is going to be with your license attached to it, with contracts, and money, and all of that. So, grad school is your place to experiment. I don't care if you absolutely hate working with children. Put yourself in an environment with children so that you can assure yourself, ``I know I really don't like children, working with children, because I …”. I know I’m saying I know you really don’t like children – but because you've worked in it. And, again, you never know later on in life if you want to switch populations, and you can always revert back to the fact that you had some experience back in grad school. Mattie Murrey 04:47 I love that advice. I was just literally talking, maybe 30 minutes ago, to a student who's like – because we're at the end of our semester, and she was like, “I don't like students!”. And I'm like, “Well, now you know what you don't care for, and move into areas that you do care for”. Samantha Walker 05:03 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 05:03 So, excellent advice. And I also love the fact that you've got in one of nine, because so many people who reach out to me at Fresh SLP are like, “I, you know, I only got into one program, or I only got into two programs. I feel like I failed”. You didn't. You got into a program. Samantha Walker 05:17 Yeah. Yeah, grad schools are definitely not one size fits all. I always try to tell people who have not gotten any schools, or got maybe rejected by one of their dream schools, like what is meant to be will find its way. And just because you loved that school from the outside, maybe not getting in was kind of a blessing in disguise. Whatever school you end up going to, you can thrive just like you will in any other school. It's about the experience that you make it. Of course, the school has a lot to do with it, and experiences and all that. But you are the one who's in grad school. You pick what you volunteer for… Mattie Murrey 05:53 Right. Samantha Walker 05:54 … and you pick the friends you make. It's all about how you – the experience that you make it. It's two years in your life. We all get the same diploma at the end of the day, and then you can go blossom and bloom anywhere in the world as long as you get your degree. That's why I try like to – I try to remind people not to harp on the fact so much about, “I got into five out of the nine”. Like all you need is one. Mattie Murrey 06:14 Right. Samantha Walker 06:15 All you need is one. Sometimes getting into more than one makes it more complicated, because then you have to choose, and then it's like, ‘Oh, did I choose the right one?’, and all that. Yeah. Mattie Murrey 06:26 So, what is your opinion on higher price programs versus more – less expensive programs? Samantha Walker 06:34 So, I went to a CUNY undergrad, which is a city school for undergrad. It was $3,000 to $4,000 a semester, and I was very lucky that my parents paid for it. So, I had no loans from undergrad. And then I went to a private school for graduate – from graduate school, and I will be very honest and open and transparent. I owe $139,000. That's also because I dormed there. Had I not dormed there, it probably would have been like $100,000. But quite honestly, I think that prestigious, more expensive schools are great, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. It's nice to say you go to a more prestigious school, but it may not necessarily mean that you're going to get better experiences there. You want to go to a school, that's, one, affordable, because you will be paying student loans for a long time if they are expensive. And, two, you want to focus more on the experiences that you're going to get, especially now in this like after COVID life. You don't know – like you want to make sure that – for me, it was important that my school provided my externships for me. I didn't have to personally look for them. So, that was a really big pro for my school. So, you want to look at more things like that than the name of the school. Because quite honestly, once you graduate, you're going to have either a Masters of Science or a Masters of Arts, which again, doesn't matter. As long as you have the CCC SLP at some point, you are golden. So quite honestly, I say go with the least expensive one, while also making sure that you're going to get the experiences that you want. Mattie Murrey 08:16 And then build out that resume with those courses. Samantha Walker 8:20 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 8:21 When I've looked at resumes for selecting students, I don't think, “Oh, this is the school. That's why I'm picking you”. I look at the courses they've taken. I'm looking at-. I look at the extra courses that they've taken that show me that they're putting their time and their money in the opportunities where they want their career to go. Samantha Walker 08:38 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 08:42 Excellent. So, you started off in a high school, and you've recently made a career shift. Tell us about that. Samantha Walker 08:48 So, I've been making career shifts in the last like couple of months. I just don't know what I want to do. I'm very lucky that I have Speaking of Samantics. I'm very lucky that I've managed to make my SLP test prep pretty big. So, I have that to fall back on. I recently got into-. I got accepted for a job in a children's hospital. But right now, with all the personal stuff going on in my life right now, I just decided to defer that for now. And now I'm focusing more on opening up my own private practice because I like high schoolers so much. I like the life skills area of speech pathology. So, my hope is to open up some sort of private practice that caters to high schoolers who have graduated out of school, and are going to college and kind of like sitting at home and doing nothing all day, to kind of like bring them out into the community once or twice a week doing different things like going shopping, and learning different life skills like that. But I do hope, at some point, to go back to the hospital setting. It was also young adults that I was working with in the hospital, so. But the good thing about speech pathology is that you can pick and choose whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Mattie Murrey 10:03 And shift to match your life? How did you develop the – I don't know if it's bravery or survival, but how did you – private practice is – it's a big step. How did you choose that? I mean, I understand it's going to give you the life that you want, and some of the freedom you want to match your other life events. How do you get that feeling that I can go forward and succeed in this? Samantha Walker 10:33 I like to think about anything in life as the only one stopping me is myself, that anything is achievable as long as I work for it. And a private practice, I always thought that I wanted to do, but before Speaking of Samantics I never really felt like I could do it because, again, I'm like I'm just a random person giving speech services. Who is going to want me to come privately when they have the school and all of this? But I just kind of – I’m just going for it. It either works, or it doesn't, and that's just my attitude on life. I'm going to try it. If I have one client part of my private practice, then I've succeeded in what I wanted to do. If that turns into a whole load, or a whole caseload of people, that is awesome. But I'm kind of just like going for it. And that's for anyone out there who kind of wants to start a private practice. You don't have to completely like end your career, or stop going to your job. You can have one or two clients on the side. You can-. It doesn't have to be this big dramatic change. You can slowly go into it, or do both at the same time. That's what I love about speech pathology, is that there's so many different settings and so many different paths you can take as part of your life, that it's just so flexible. Mattie Murrey 11:48 So, you did that with Speaking of Samantics. Tell us, for those who don't know, what Speaking of Samantics is, and why you had like a constant nonstop long line at your booth at ASHA! Samantha Walker 12:01 Okay. So, I graduated back in 2019 from my Master's program, and I started my clinical fellowship. I graduated in May of 2019. I started my clinical fellowship September of 2019. I was contracted through an agency to go to a high school, and once COVID hit I was obviously sent home, and my supervisor had told me that I was not allowed to work because ASHA didn't specifically say that clinical fellows can work in teletherapy. So, here I am, in the middle of this new pandemic where I have no idea what's going on, straight out of grad school with no money in my bank account. Kind of saying like, ‘Okay. Well, she's not letting me work, and now I'm kind of stuck because I have this job, if I leave – so, because I was part-time, my hours were considered part-time for my clinical fellowship, had I left before I reached a certain amount of hours for my clinical fellowship, it would have all gotten erased. Mattie Murrey 13:05 Right. Samantha Walker 13:05 So, I was like in this predicament. Like, “Okay. I have to stay, but she's not letting me work. So, there's really not much I can do”. Mattie Murrey 13:13 [crosstalk] Samantha Walker 13:13 Yeah, exactly. My first step was turning to Teachers Pay Teachers because as a grad student I was always someone who found creativity, who liked being creative. So, I did Teachers Pay Teachers. Then I started doing these silly drawings for my family, and I was like, “Oh, this is kind of fun”. Like, I have no responsibilities right now. I can't go outside. So, I'm just going to draw these silly things. And then it just dawned on me, I was like, ‘Okay. Maybe I'll just draw some cute ways to say speech pathology. I bought my Cricut machine, and the rest is history. I am so grateful for how big Speaking of Samantics has turned out to be. And it's funny, because my mom still looks me in the face and says, “It's crazy how you started this all off of stickers!” Mattie Murrey 14:00 Mhm. Samantha Walker 14:01 So, Speaking of Samantics grew and grew and grew, and I was like I love the stickers and the apparel, but I was like I feel like I need to do more, which is why I've kind of turned it more into – it's still stickers and apparel, and fun merchandise for speech pathologists, but I also have this huge passion for helping graduate students. Mattie Murrey 14:22 Mhm. Samantha Walker 14:22 Because I feel like there's so much out there for licensed SLPs. There’s CEUs, there's podcasts, there's websites, there's these live events. But I feel like graduate students are kind of just like, ‘Well, what about us?’ And I love graduate schools, and it's probably super hard to be a graduate school, but I think there are certain things that students could need a little more help in, which is why I started creating my own courses for grad students, and it's just kind of blossomed into that. Mattie Murrey 14:54 That's why I have Fresh SLP… Samantha Walker 14:56 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 14:56 … exactly for new and transitioning SLPs. Because there's so much out there for people who are already niched down, and deep into the swallowing, or whatever it is. And there's just really nothing out there at this here's your first steps. Samantha Walker 15:13 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 15:14 So, totally with you on that. Samantha Walker 15:17 And I think a big thing about the pandemic that has been awesome for speech pathologists is the family or the community on Instagram that has completely grown. Mattie Murrey 15:27 So totally with you on that. Samantha Walker 15:28 And a big part of Speaking of Samantics that I try to tell people is it is nice to look up to these SLPs, but don't idolize them. Mattie Murrey 15:36 Right. Samantha Walker 15:36 You can be whoever you want to be. And most of the time, Instagram is just a highlight reel. So, you can say that all of my stuff is beautiful, therapy, activities, and all this, and my desk is a complete mess! But some people may never show that. So, that's why I say like you can be anything you want. You can be an amazing SLP, but kind of don’t idolize people because then you lose yourself. Mattie Murrey 16:03 Right. And you don't always see the hardships and the trials that they've had to get to where they are. Samantha Walker 16:11 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 16:11 It seems like, “Oh, look, here they are. They're successful”. Well, what have they done to become successful? Samantha Walker 16:17 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 16:17 You don't always see that path. So, I know that I've got a new computer coming in May - May 4th, and I have been saving in my little desk drawer stickers that I bought at ASHA to go on my computer. My son bought them for me. You met my son. And he's like these are the best stickers! I'm buying them for you. You can put them on your new computer when you get it. So, he's… Samantha Walker 16:41 He’s awesome. Mattie Murrey 16:41 Yeah. So, he’s-. I love my kids! [crosstalk] Samantha Walker 16:45 He snuck that purchase when you went to the bathroom. Mattie Murrey 16:50 Oh, did he?! Samantha Walker 16:50 He was like, “I’ve got to get these for my mom”. I was like, “Okay! Then hide them!” Mattie Murrey 16:55 I genuinely enjoy the adult things that they are. Samantha Walker 16:59 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 17:00 They’re just – they’re a lot of fun. So, tell us about some of the challenges that you have faced as an SLP, and we'll follow that up with some of the rewards. Samantha Walker 17:12 Yeah. So, I think a big part about being an SLP that's newly graduated – I mean, I still kind of consider myself newly graduated – is imposter syndrome. I think that's a big part of the transition from being a graduate student to being a fully licensed SLP because you kind of feel like you don't know what you're doing. I get a lot of graduate students who are like, “I just graduated yesterday. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, and I feel like I know nothing”, which is such a normal feeling but it forces you to kind of like have – you need to have confidence in yourself. So, that's a big thing that I faced as a graduate student, but also as like a clinical fellow, and jumping around from setting to setting, is that I needed – I was forced to kind of have confidence in myself because I needed to know, I needed to look like I knew what I was doing, or I needed to research alone. So, impostor syndrome was definitely a big thing that I faced as a speech pathologist. Being a person of color too. I won't – I wouldn't necessarily say that I've faced any discrimination, but because I live in New York City, and New York City itself is just like a melting pot. But I will say that my graduate program, I was one of like two or three girls of color. So, I think that there definitely needs to be more representation for women of color, and for men, in speech pathology. I think that speech pathology, our profession, has to grow a lot more in that. So, that's definitely some – a little bit of a problem that I faced as a speech pathologist. Yeah. I think that's basically it. I mean, impostor syndrome is a huge thing, and I know a lot of people struggle with it and there's not one answer to how to fix it. It's kind of just finding yourself, being happy with yourself, being okay with making mistakes and saying that you don't know something and you're willing to look it up more. I think that grad schools sometimes make us feel like we need to know everything, always. Mattie Murrey 19:25 Right. Samantha Walker 19:28 And that's not the case. I use Google so many times, or other SLPs, or textbooks. But I think that it's hard to switch from being a student to a speech pathologist. You're in that constant, like okay, I'm just studying to pass this test, versus I'm studying to actually know this information so that when I evaluate a child, I can do a differential diagnosis. Things like that. Mattie Murrey 19:53 And you're always going to be learning. Samantha Walker 19:55 Exactly. Mattie Murrey 19:56 There's always research. There's always additional ways to do things, additional things to engage and apply, and you don't have to be perfect. A large part of the impostor syndrome is also changing that internal dialogue. So many of us, it's – like you said, it's a very normal thing to not have the confidence because we don't have that experience yet. And it's changing that internal dialogue into “I can't do this. I’m a fake, they're going to find out”, to “I'm new at this, and I'm going to learn, and I'm going to get it”. Samantha Walker 20:27 Exactly. And also to add off of that, a big part of impostor syndrome, I think, comes from comparison… Mattie Murrey 22:35 Mhm. Samantha Walker 22:35 … especially in grad programs with your cohort. And I try to drill this into people's heads that there is not a right path, there is not a wrong path, there is only your path, and that is all you should really honestly care about. Because if someone else gets an externship that's “better than yours”, like what does that even mean? And I think a lot of the times people idolize the fact – idolize medical SLPs over school based SLPs, and in reality, they're all great experiences. So, I think that really, really focusing on not comparing your journey, your grades, your success in graduate school to anyone else. Because at the end of the day, you're the one that's going to get the diploma. You're the one that's going to be applying to the jobs, and you have to love yourself and love the speech pathologist that you are, not the speech pathologist you are in comparison to everyone else in your class, Mattie Murrey 21:35 And love the clients that you work with. Samantha Walker 21:37 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 21:39 Yeah. Excellent. I was waiting, I was listening to you. Samantha Walker 21:42 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 21:42 I was waiting for you to finish. But it's so important to love what you're doing, and who you're doing it with. And you're exactly right. Kelli Slemp has been a previous guest on this podcast, and she was like, “I'm going to be a medical SLP”. She got into her clinical internship in grad school, and she was like, “I don't like this at all”, and switched over, and she's loving what she does now. So, follow your own path, and your own heart. Samantha Walker 22:09 Yeah, and you also have to kind of like understand when things feel wrong. Because I also thought that I wanted to be a medical SLP. Right after my clinical fellowship I got a job in home health care. It could have been a little impacted by the fact that it was like super prime COVID time still, but it just wasn't for me. I was only working there for a month, and I – it was just bothering me. Every time I got home, I was like this is not for me, this is not for me. But for the sake of saying that I didn't stay at a job for a month, I was just like I'm just going to keep going, I'm just going to keep going. And then I kind of just finally sat myself down. I'm like if I'm not happy, I have every right to move onto something that makes me happy. Mattie Murrey 22:52 Mhm. Well said, well said. Tell us about some of the rewards you've had as an SLP. Samantha Walker 22:58 Oh. Oh, my gosh, the clients. The clients. I think the clients are the number one thing that makes me love this profession because sometimes it feels like you're not making a difference, if you're looking just at data, or just day to day. But when you see – especially because I like to work with high schoolers, so buy-in is a big thing, otherwise they're like, “Why am I coming to this room? Why am I being taken out of my class? I'm too cool for this.” But once they realize that what they're doing in speech pathology is making a difference… Mattie Murrey 23:34 Mhm. Samantha Walker 23:35 It is the most beautiful feeling, for both them and I. So, to have the clients is a huge reward for speech pathologists, and for just me in general. And then I think also, I mean, with Speaking of Samantics, I think there's such a huge family presence, or community, on Instagram that I feel like if I posted anything, if I needed help, like there would be so many people willing to help. So many people love to help other grad students, and I like to kind of be the middleman, like okay, this person is willing to help, this person is willing to help. So, that makes me so happy about having that community. Mattie Murrey 24:14 It's interesting, we're talking about rewards, and I know you and I have had a conversation on how I'm just not keen on peds. But in my class today, one of the students asked me a question because – or what’s been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve had as an SLP? And I honestly have to think back to my pediatric patients, because I so believe in them, and the things that we're doing, and the skills that they're learning. When we discharge, we're just like – I mean, I can't follow them or anything else like that, but I'm just like “Fly little bird, fly”. Samantha Walker 24:50 Yeah. Mattie Murrey 24:50 I just – I'm so excited to see where they're going, and how they can go, where they can go, and the opportunities that they have. It's neat when they come back a few years later, Samantha Walker 25:00 Yeah, I haven't had that experience yet, but it's – with my adult clients… Mattie Murrey 25:05 Mhm. Samantha Walker 25:06 … I have definitely – they’ve had – actually, they've reached out every once in a while to say how well they're doing. And it just feels so great to actually feel like you're making a difference, but also have it noticed by other people. Mattie Murrey 25:17 Mhm. So, you're really a strong person. You're a strong SLP. How do you self advocate for yourself when you need to in your settings? Samantha Walker 25:28 I'm very good at putting on a front! Most of the time when things come, like negotiating, or having to kind of stand up for myself, I use a lot of self talk. Honestly, the shower is my best friend. I kind of have conversations with myself in there to kind of just say like this – you know what you deserve. A prime example of this last year, I had taken a maternity leave position at a high school. And the maternity coverage was over, and they wanted to hire me as a licensed SLP. Because the lady that I was covering was like a more long term SLP, she got paid at a higher rate, which is what I got while I was covering her. But then when I – they wanted to hire me, they were hiring me at a lower rate because of my credits. Which I completely understand, but my argument to them was, “Hey, but you know how I work. You've watched me work for the past four or so months”, just trying to get them to go a little bit higher, and they didn't budge at all. So, I was in this predicament like, okay, I know I deserve better. This is a job. I can apply for any other job. Do I want to settle for the next year? Or do I want to look for another job? I spoke to my family. I spoke to my boyfriend. My dad is really good at kind of like talking these things through with me. But I knew I was worth more. So, I turned down the position and I found another job. It's just about talking yourself through the pros and cons, through what could happen if you take it, what could happen if you don't take it. You kind of just have to have these conversations with you. Write things down. Talk with other people. Because I know, for me, decisions like that are a lot harder to make when I'm just trying to make them with myself. Mattie Murrey 27:09 Mhm. Samantha Walker 28:09 I like to talk to other people. But definitely stand up for yourself because no one else is going to. Mattie Murrey 27:15 Right, right. Well said. So, we talked a little bit about Speaking of Samantics, the merchandise and the stickers. You also mentioned the courses that you have. Can you share details about that? Samantha Walker 27:27 Yeah. So, my first course that I ever made was my Clinical Fellowship Course, which basically runs through what to do right before you graduate, how to apply, how to interview, how to negotiate, all of that all the way through. Actually applying for your CEs. Because I feel like grad schools are focusing on so many things, especially when you're graduating. It's very easy to lose track of what you've learned. Grad schools, most of the time, go over clinical fellowships and the Praxis and these different things, but some people were asking about like more information. So, I created that. Then I created a How to Survive Grad School Course, which is basically teaching people that grad school is going to take up as much time as you let it. A lot of the times – I mean, for me too, grad school was my life when I was in grad school. It was grad school or nothing. I was not going out to eat. I was not going out. I was not doing anything. I was only doing things at grad school. But that led me to burnout so much quicker than everyone else because I was drowning myself. So, that's one of those courses. And then recently, the last maternity leave that I've covered was for a past supervisor from graduate school. And together, me and two of my supervisors started to create more courses. So, what to do with your first client. What else do we have? How to work with an SLP supervisor. These kind of just short courses to help people feel more confident in starting something new because that's a big part about grad school. You're always starting something new and you feel like you don't know enough, rightfully so because you're still learning. So, I created those courses. They're available on But I think that's just a branch off of me trying to give resources to SLP grad students who feel like they're lost. Mattie Murrey 29:24 A service that's definitely needed, for sure. So, what words of advice then would you give to a grad student, who especially is dealing with stress and burnout in grad school? Samantha Walker 29:38 I think one of the most important things to do in graduate school is schedule time for yourself. There will always be a paper to work on, a treatment plan to write. There will always be something to do. But if you time manage correctly, and actually schedule time for yourself into your calendar, you can make it happen. Because if you don't give yourself a day to rest, an hour to rest, your body will choose that day for you, and you will probably become sick, or ridden with anxiety and stress, and all of that. So, find time for yourself. And going off the whole imposter syndrome thing, your cohort should be a team – your team, not your competition because at the end of the day, you're all getting the same degree, and you need people to lean on. You don't need the competition because really you're fighting for the same things. So, definitely consider them your team, not your competition. And last, but not least, is – I know, this is hard, of course, they're like, “Oh, you're saying this because you're out of grad school already”, but have fun! I mean, there's so many different opportunities volunteered, opportunities that you can take advantage of in graduate school. And find your people, like once you find your people you can have – I used to have so much fun studying with my friends because we made these absolutely absurd and inappropriate jokes to remember the material, and we did! So, find time for you, don't compare yourself to anyone else, and try to have fun. I mean, these are your first clients that you'll probably remember for the rest of your life. Mattie Murrey 31:26 Right. What would you say to the grad student who is anxious and dealing with perfectionism? Samantha Walker 31:33 Perfectionism is never going to happen. I always – it's hard because before even getting into grad school, in undergrad I feel like we're almost bred to be – to try to be perfect, right? You're applying to grad schools. You need to have a perfect GPA. You need to have a perfect GRE score. You need to have a perfect transcript. All of these things, perfect. And then, we get into grad school and we still have that mentality. We need to be perfect. We need to be on top. We need to have all A's. And the reality, grad school is about learning. It's about the curriculum. It's about having those experiences. In my experience, I have never – an employer has never asked me about my GPA, what grade I got on the practice on my comprehensive exam. They only care about the fact that I have my degree. Which I do, and I am the first one to say I had two C's on my graduate school transcript, and I am a licensed SLP at this point. I did have to remediate it. But you have to remember that speech pathology has – there's so many different topics, so many different specialties you can go into, you cannot expect yourself to be perfect at everything. Mattie Murrey 32:41 So, remediation. That's a scary moment in a grad student’s life. Samantha Walker 32:47 Oh, yeah. Mattie Murrey 32:47 Because they're not expecting it when they enter, and they probably know it’s coming. Did you know that your remediation was coming? Samantha Walker 32:55 I did. It was on research methods. I don't remember… Mattie Murrey 32:58 That’s the class I teach! Samantha Walker 33:00 Yeah. Oh, I’m so bad at research, and I still am. But I'll never forget, my professor wrote on one of my research papers, she was like, “You clearly learned nothing from these articles”. Mattie Murrey 33:12 Oh. Samantha Walker 33:12 But I still – I get to laugh about that now, but yeah. So, remediation is hard. It's rough. Because if you are one of those people who are comparing yourself to your classmates, or searching for that perfectionism… Mattie Murrey 33:26 Mhm. Samantha Walker 33:26 … that is a detrimental moment that it seems like the world is going to end. When in reality, remediation is good because you clearly aren't understanding what's being taught. So you want to make sure you understand that if you need any of those skills in the real world. So, I always say you don't have to tell anyone if that whole comparison thing is going to bother you where your classmates know you're doing remediation and all that. You don't have to tell anyone. You can keep it all to yourself. But really learn from what your professors are teaching and remediation or whatever the assignment is. Mattie Murrey 34:01 And it's better to learn and remediate in grad school than out in the non grad school, out when you’re in your clinical fellowship or CEs because then, like you said, your license is attached to it, and you don't want to have that learning curve there. And being a professor who has sat on remediations, my – it's a hard issue for me, I identify, I support, we learn. And yeah, target those skills. It’s better in grad school than later on. Samantha Walker 34:33 Exactly. Yeah, grad school is your time to make mistakes… Mattie Murrey 34:47 Mhm. Samantha Walker 34:47 … to do things that make you scared, uncomfortable, all of those things. Because you are a student, you are still learning, and this is your time to experiment. Mattie Murrey 34:46 So, last question. This is the series What I Didn't Learn in Grad School. So, can you share with us something that you have learned since grad school that you wished you had learned in grad school? Samantha Walker 34:58 I think grad school covered a lot of the foundation of speech pathology. So, I feel like I have a good concrete foundation of speech pathology. But I feel like I missed a little on how to bill, how to negotiate, how to schedule. I mean, when I was … Mattie Murrey 35:16 Mhm. Samantha Walker 35:16 … I first walked into my clinical fellowship, they were like here's 80 students, good luck! I’m like do you mean, these aren't given to me? Like I have to figure it out myself? So, I think that those types of skills, I kind of were forced to learn on my own. And it's hard because I'm learning – because I'm learning them on my own. I have that whole, am I doing it right? Is this really how it's supposed to be? So, definitely those more like life skills as part of speech pathology that I wish I had learned. Because going straight from grad school into the real world, I'm like I don't know how much I should ask for. I don't know how much I should negotiate. And I always tell people to negotiate because my best friend worked for – where she currently works, and someone who had gone to our school previously, it was the position she was taking over, and she was just like negotiate because I didn't. And she happened to get paid more than her because she negotiated. The same position. The same graduate school. Same everything, but just because she asked, she got more. Mattie Murrey 36:22 Mhm. That reminds me of a course I teach, The SLP Rejection Challenge. Have you seen the Rejection challenge on TED Talk? Samantha Walker 36:29 No. Mattie Murrey 36:29 Oh, it’s so good. There's a guy who like asks a question in his apartment forum and he's rejected. It was something simple. Can I pet your dog? And he's like he absorbs this rejection, and he's like why am I doing this? It wasn't personal. And so, the whole TED Talk, and the course that I've developed, it is learning how to handle rejections, not personal. Go ask. The worst they can do is say no. And if you don't ask, then your answer is always going to be no, Samantha Walker 36:58 Exactly. My dad, I feel like, has drilled that in my head. The answer is going to be no if you don't ask. Mattie Murrey 37:04 Mhm. Samantha Walker 37:04 And negotiation is scary because, again, we're putting ourselves out there. Even though we may not feel like we're worth more, we may know it in our head. But, like you said, the worst thing they can say is no. That's with most things in life. The worst thing people can do is say no. And then, it's all about kind of taking that rejection, and either taking it personal or just learning from it and moving on. Mattie Murrey 37:27 Well, thanks for your time today, Sam. Samantha Walker 27:29 Of course. Mattie Murrey 37:30 Can you tell our listeners where they can find you? Samantha Walker 37:32 Sure. So my Instagram, I have so many but my main one is Speaking of Samantics. Not S-E-M. It’s spelled S-A-M, like Sam. You can also find me at, And also, another Instagram that I have is @slptestprep, which is test prep for comprehensive exams, the Praxis, any academics exam, in a game based format. So, each week we have a new Kahoot filled with questions based off of speech pathology terminology, and we have lots of fun. So, that's where you can find me. Mattie Murrey 38:12 Excellent. I'm sure a lot of listeners will come and find you, especially a lot of my students. Samantha Walker 28:16 Yes. Mattie Murrey 38:18 Thanks again for your time. Samantha Walker 38:19 Of course. Mattie Murrey 38:29 I hope today's conversation has created some aha moments for you, and motivated you to become a better SLP, continuing to connect some of those missing links between what you know and how to use that knowledge. Thank you for downloading The Missing Link for SLP’s Podcast, and if you enjoyed the show, I'd love you to subscribe, rate it, and leave a short review. Also, please share an episode with a friend. Together, we can raise awareness and help more SLPs find and connect those missing links, and get the information needed to help them feel confident in their patient care every step of the way. Follow me on Instagram and join the Fresh SLP community on Facebook. Show Notes are always available. So, come learn more at Let's make those connections. You got this!

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