Read on to find out more about our lovely team member and mentor Andrea!
Thank you so much for being part of our team and a mentor to our mentees!
What was your journey like going into ST?
I never knew I wanted to be a Speech and Language Therapist, nor did I know I’d like working with children. It all started when I fell into a job where I was a teaching assistant working with children with special needs and of course I fell in love with that job. Over time, I became a special educational needs teacher and had my own class of students. After a few years, I felt I needed to do something else which would allow me to support my students' language and speech skills in a fun and interactive way, more so than I had already tried to do. Then one day, a speech and language therapist worked with one of my students and it was like a light bulb lit up! That was when I knew I wanted to be a speech and language therapist (SLT). When I applied to the Masters programme at UCL there were a lot of areas that were transferable which I felt helped me. These skills were working with an MDT team, knowing how to manage tricky parents, taking on a flexible approach, being reflective, having creative ideas to engage with clients and the list goes on. During the masters course we had a chance to work with both adults and paediatrics and as much as I enjoyed working in an adult acute setting focusing on dysphagia, my heart remained with the paediatric population. So, after I graduated I started working in the community going into primary and secondary schools supporting students with speech, language, communication and social and emotional needs.
What excites you most about being an ST?
Reflecting on my work experience so far, I feel the happiest when I am working face to face with children in schools, seeing them progress through their goals as well as seeing them engage and be excited for their sessions. Being an SLT is not always easy, you have to learn to put on your professional ‘hat’ when with teachers/ parents and then a goofy ‘hat’ when working with the younger ones.
Something else that excites me about being a speech therapist is learning to be comfortable with trying different evidenced based approaches to find the ‘perfect’ therapy approach and engaging in long discussions with colleagues to find the ‘best’ way to handle unfamiliar situations. However, once that specific approach is found, everyone triumphs as the child is now able to excel to his/ her full potential. Working in schools also allows you to meet amazing teaching assistants, teachers and parents who are eager to learn and support the child in various settings. Being an SLT is not confined to just working with children but working with every other important person/ professional involved with them and finding the best way to support the child. Having this opportunity to impart knowledge to help others improve and/ or to feel confident with their skills is extremely important to me because the only way for a child to improve with their speech, language and communication skills is to have every professional moving at the same beat and this is often the hardest to achieve.
How do you unwind after a day of being an SLT?
Being an SLT can be draining especially on a fully packed day. What I like to do to unwind is to go to the gym to have some me time, where I can work on my own goals and destress from the day as well as squeeze in some socialising with friends at the gym.
Why did you want to join STLinks?
ST Links bridged the gap between being a student/ prospective student with working speech therapist to support them feel prepared/ gain insight into the role of speech Therapists. This is so vital and such an important area that I felt was missing as a student studying to be a speech therapist. I did not hesitate to join ST Links as I believe in what they are doing and I feel it's so important to be able to support prospective speech Therapists as well as to build a community of speech therapists where we learn from each other and continually develop our knowledge and practices.
What was your experience like joining the team?
I've fully enjoyed being part of the ST Links team! I feel valued and part of a team that compliments each other, learns from each other and uplifts each other. The vision and amount of hard work put in motivates me to be more and do more with the knowledge I have. Starting out with ST Links on top of working was a little daunting because I assumed there’d be a lot of extra work to do but also exciting. However, the team really listens and ensures that any (little) amount of ‘work’ that needs to be done is manageable and can be done with the time I have. They are also very supportive and always request feedback so that they can be/do better.
Being part of ST Links has also allowed me to become a mentor to a prospective speech and language therapy student which allowed me to develop skills such as, being a mentor at a pace that is appropriate to me, sharing my experiences, giving advice and learning to be more reflective. I’m really excited to continue developing as a mentor where I can hone important speech therapy skills like giving feedback, sharing and learning from others, time management and learning to problem solve effectively.
Keen to get in touch and learn from Andrea? You are welcome to write to us on our social media platforms or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!