Working While Doing Fieldwork in OT School

work during ot fieldwork

Has anyone been able to work while doing fieldwork level II?

what did you do?

Students are probably wondering is if it is possible to work while doing fieldwork and if it is too demanding. I was in this exact position myself in OT school. We will be talking more specifically about level II fieldwork as level I is usually about 1 week. The answer to this question is do you have the time? Energy? Mental health under control? Do you really have to work? Like really?

Have you worked in OT School?

If you have worked during OT school, likely part-time or gig work, then it is entirely possible. And if you have not and it’s your first time working, it is still entirely possible. It depends on what you do for money.

Your Obligations

Let’s look at what you cannot change and go from there. You likely have to go to fieldwork full time, e.g. 9-5 on weekdays. Basically, it will take up around 40 hours of your time per week.

The next question to ask yourself is how badly do you need to work? Will not working make you starve? Or will you just not be able to go out to eat as much or spend on entertainment.

Before you go on to earn a single penny, ask yourself – what expenses can I cut out? If you have cut out everything you possibly can that is necessary, then you can move on. This may seem extreme, but fieldwork can be very demanding. The thing you would want to avoid is burning yourself out before you are even an occupational therapist. So things like Netflix (I don’t watch TV), subscriptions, coffee runs, eating out for lunch, etc. Look back on your past credit or debit card statement and ask yourself what you could have done without?

If you still need to work or working will help reduce your anxiety, then you can look at some of these options.

Ideas

As it is 2021, the type of work you should look into is gig work. As a freelancer or person doing gig work, you have 100% flexibility in your schedule. Want to work evenings after FW? You can do that. Weekends? You can as well. Get out early from fieldwork? You can work. This won’t require rearranging your schedule with your boss and co-workers like a traditional part-time job. Keep in mind that you will miss out on benefits like health insurance and retirement to name a few.

What are some examples of gig work?

  • Babysitting
  • Uber/Lyft
  • Doordash

That kind of thing. We have a very large post with a list of basically every gig work category under the sun that may interest you. WAIT! BEFORE you click on that link, read the rest of this article first because there are some important points related to students doing specifically their fieldwork.

Babysitting

The first is – find something flexible. Many students like websites like care.com for babysitting because if you cannot show up, you can have another classmate take over. However, some parents may not be as flexible. The money is pretty good and the job is easy. As a male, I haven’t really done this, but most of the females in my class did this. You may even be able to study if say, the kiddo is asleep.

Use your car

If babysitting isn’t your thing and you have a car – then you have a lot of options there, especially if you live in a big city. You can do food delivery, groceries, run errands, be a taxi driver or whatever interests you. These are all flexible options, but it is a hustle.

My Advice

If you have the luxury of being more selective in your job and not just need the money that quickly and badly, I would seriously choose a gig work that will improve your skillset and career. Anyone can drive for uber or deliver doordash, but something that requires more skill, say photography, is more valuable for your future. What do I mean?

Case Study

If you know photography, for example, you can do side-gigs for clients like maternity, children photos, weddings, etc. I know we are in a pandemic, but hear me out.

Imagine all the wedding clients that want photos taken when the pandemic ends. Demand will be greater than supply  – see what I mean?

These skills are valuable because if you wanted to say, start a private practice, you have a skillset you can use to help with that. You would have an eye for what looks good and what sells – to drive clients to your private practice. Not so much if you just did Uber. You may not want to be an entrepreneur now, and that is OK, but in life – you should always be looking to improve your skills because you never know what career move you will make. You will likely have to adapt to the environment and situation and occupational therapy should be no exception. It is not like you finish OT school and you no longer learn, that is why you will be taking continuing education credits for your license. So you kind of have to learn in a way. Why not learn other skills with a job to complement this?

I have created websites for clients, started a wedding videography business, dabbled in photography and music production, and am now learning a lot more about the business side of OT. And all of these skills came in handy for OTDUDE. I don’t have to learn from scratch because I already know and just have to update myself on what’s new in the industry.

If I was in OT school all over again and doing fieldwork and had the time and energy, I would do freelance work to build my portfolio or skillset. Building websites, making videos, marketing, copywriting, e-commerce – are all valuable skills worth developing.

For inspiration, I highly recommend you go on Fiverr or Upwork and see what kind of freelance work people are offering and paying for. You can even become a virtual assistant online and work entirely from home. This will teach you how to communicate and learn skills such as management in the future because you will talk with your client and improve your communication skills. Not so much with Doordash.

There is no such thing as “I am not an expert in anything”. In my opinion, that is just an excuse. You also don’t need to be an expert to make money.

Work smart, not hard.

If you are going to spend your life and time doing something, make it meaningful and worthwhile for your future. And if you can making money while doing it, that is even better, right?

Social Media Influencers

What amazes me these days is social media influencers. I have a lot of respect for them and it is not easy and time-consuming. I am impressed with their skillset: brand image, PR, photography, creativity for TikTok videos, affiliate and brand sponsorships, graphics, you name it. I would argue that the skillset of a social media influencer is much higher than that of someone who does “random” work.

I am not frowning down on some of these gig categories (I personally drove for Lyft myself when I was in OT school). One thing I regret was not doing gig work that invested in my future and was more meaningful, because that is probably why you chose to be an OT – to help people and do something meaningful for the community.

Mental Health

Some students cry during fieldwork. Some have a really tough time. Now add to this the stress of having to make money. I don’t want you to burn out or have increased anxiety/depression. So it is important to choose a gig job that is easy to quit and put down when you need a mental health break. Even babysitting can be a big commitment because you will need to find a replacement if you are out. That is why alternatives are much more flexible in my opinion.

My Inspiration

  • So learn how to play an instrument and teach someone how to play it and get paid.
  • Learn to design websites and build a clientele. You’ll get paid and be able to make your own website for a future business.
  • Coach other people with their mental health, career, or health and wellness. Get paid, and you may be able to integrate this with a consulting business.
  • Write for a blog (and get paid) and improve your overall writing – this will help with documentation, writing e-mails, management, or being an entrepreneur.
  • If you are artistic, make artwork or merchandise you can sell in a niche market. Get paid and learn valuable e-commerce skills that can help you in the future to earn extra income.

You should not be tied to a 9-5 OT job in your future. The pandemic is a reminder that nothing is 100% stable or reliable. And no, this is not specific to OT. It does not matter if you are a nurse, doctor, lawyer. Many of these occupations have been laid off (or even FIRED for speaking out during the pandemic for what is right).

As insurance, you should use this as an opportunity and learning experience to find alternate sources of income that are “smart” to complement your OT salary when you work in the future. This will allow you to scale down on the hours to say, part-time as an OT or per-diem as you retire while your other sources of income provide a nice cushion and complement your OT salary. OTs get paid quite well, but why not make extra money such as from passive income?

This all depends on your own goals and what you want in life, but it’s nice to have options!