Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

A blog post from SOLES MA in Counseling, School Counseling specialization 2015 graduate , Michelle Nakamura:
Almost a year ago, I was standing where you are now. I was finishing up my finals and anticipating graduation. Actually I was anticipating the future. It was scary and unknown.
Here I am now, finishing up my first year as a high school counselor. Not even sure where to start or how to condense the story of the rollercoaster I’ve been riding for the past year. So here goes my first year…
I probably applied to about 20 sites in two states and looked at jobs in a third state. I got about 7 interviews and took all of them. My first and longest interview was an all day event where I was not only interviewed by the administration but also the current counselors, a student panel, and parent panel. Talk about intense! The majority of my interviews had me driving up to the Bay area once a week for a month. Finding a job is a job itself, but don’t get deterred! It’s okay if you’re not the first in your cohort to get a job. If you don’t get a call back after the interview, think of it as extra practice for next time. I actually applied to my current site twice – the first time I applied I did not get an interview but when a new position opened up with them I applied again.
I moved from San Diego to the Bay area in August, about one week after I was interview/hired and a few days before work started. I was “homeless”, without regular housing, for almost a month as I searched for an apartment. I was moving between Airbnbs and sleeping on a couch of a friend’s friend that I had just met. Oh the things you do for the job. I still find it a little crazy how I managed during that first month.
I knew that my first year was going to be crazy but a lot of things happened so unexpectedly. It is sad to say but I knew at some point in my career I would handle the aftermath of a suicide. That happened during my second week of work and it hit me hard. We take classes to prepare for crisis but you really won’t understand how you’re going to handle it until it happens. I struggled as students came in after they found out; it was heart breaking to see them cry. That was a rough week for our school. I was thrown a curveball myself when two months into the job I was told that my position was funded by “one time money.” I had moved my entire life for this job and was never told this was a “one time money” position. Can you imagine not knowing if you have a job or not for over 6 months? I was pink slipped but within the next few weeks a combination of events happened that allowed me to be rehired for a position that was not funded by a grant.
Of course with rollercoasters you also have your ups. My counseling team is so strong and supportive. It was a steep learning curve but I never felt like I was running around like a headless chicken. They were patient with my questions and appreciative when I could help them with something I was stronger at. One of my students, who is transgender, felt comfortable enough to share this with me. She wanted a counselor to read something to all her classes about her transition and I was proud to participate. We even transformed one of the staff bathrooms to be an All gender bathroom for this growing population. I love when my seniors go out of their way to share with me a college they got into or committed to. I love building a relationship with my students that they know they can reach out for help. I love seeing them make progress and seeing in their eyes true appreciation for my help. I love making a difference.
I love being a school counselor and I can’t wait for many more wonderful, crazy, never the same days.
Good luck and congratulations class of 2016!!
Staff pic

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