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College to Career: My First Job as a Counselor

By June 17, 2020Alumni, STU News

At St. Thomas University, we are committed to the success of our students inside and outside of the classroom. Our College to Career series will feature and celebrate  STU Bobcats and their internship and first job experiences. Get to know STU Bobcat, Jessica Ingram, and about her first job experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern!

      1. Name: Jessica Ingram.
      2. Major: I was a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice.
      3. Graduation Year: I came to STU as a freshman in 2014 with an athletic and academic scholarship and graduated in 2017.
      4. Where do you work and what is your title? I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern at two private practices in Houston, Texas. One of these practices provides me the opportunity to work with clients of all ages helping them through a variety of challenges while the other allows me to focus on the challenges of childhood, working with children and some parents. I have also kept my foot in the volleyball world! I have the privilege of working as an assistant volleyball coach at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, a prestigious Catholic school in Houston, as well as Head Coach at a local club.
      5. How did you find out about your job and secure it? As a result of the support and interaction of each professor at STU I was able to fill my resume with personal & academic accomplishments as well as a large variety of community service. After graduating from STU I knew I wanted to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and determined the best program would have to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) so I moved to San Antonio to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio where I received my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, graduating in August of 2019. While at UTSA I was inducted into Chi Sigma Iota, the International and Professional Academic Honor Society for counseling students, counselor educators, and professional counselors. I am always on the move so upon graduation from UTSA I decided to move to Houston to begin my counseling career and I am loving my new city. I found my positions via online searches and by attending a variety of networking events which provided the opportunity to meet people in my field.  STU set me up for success by helping build my confidence and independence while working towards my goals. I also have an amazing personal support system.
      6. What does a day at work look like? I love my crazy yet flexible schedule! It honestly depends on the day of the week and the time of year! During the school year I conduct my counseling sessions in the mornings and am then free to coach in the afternoons. My days are rarely consistent but when counseling adult clients I sit with them and listen while also paying attention to their body language, and I work to help them process events in their lives. When working with a child(ren) I use play therapy to observe their behavior since children are less equipped to express their feelings verbally. A good part of my day is spent researching what is available in our community and matching those resources to the needs of my clients in order to provide them additional avenues of support. My afternoons are spent developing young ladies into good athletes with solid volleyball skills and helping them become good team players. When I am not with a client, researching or coaching a good bit of my day is spent logging case notes. I do make sure there’s a lot of fun in between all the work.😊
      7. What’s your favorite part about your job? My favorite part about being a counselor is seeing the growth in my clients. I see people in all stages of their lives; some are looking for help to process the day to day while others are in crisis. In both of these scenarios I work to help each person develop specific techniques and skills which will then enable them to process their situation and move forward in a positive manner. I approach coaching pretty much the same way. I love learning about each one of the girls and seeing them grow as individuals throughout the season; developing their skills and their volleyball IQ. I love seeing the love for the sport in their eyes and I work to make volleyball a positive experience for each one of them.
      8. What challenges have you faced at your first job and how have you overcome them? I face a variety challenges every day as a counselor. I always have a client working through something new, and possibly tragic, so I have to be prepared for my clients to come in at their worst. It can be challenging to have a client cry and expose their vulnerabilities knowing they are looking to me for support and direction. I work hand in hand with my Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor as well as my boss to be the best counselor I can be and to help my community as a whole. In my career field we have to make sure we take care of ourselves so we are ready to support our clients. We must be diligent in removing the stigma of mental illness.
      9. How does your job connect back to your coursework and extracurricular activities at STU? In absolutely every aspect! While at STU I learned so much about people, the human mind and its functions, as well as our justice system. My professors were very engaged and I believe I had a personal connection with each one of them. The small, family feeling of the STU campus is one of the reasons I picked STU as my university to begin with! Proximity to the beach was also a big part of my choice . When trying to choose a favorite professor I could name them all for different reasons. That would take up too much space so let me name those I feel provided me the most guidance, encouraged me to be a part of the community, helped me develop a better understanding of society, while also providing direction on my choice of career path;  Dr. Grace, Dr. Silitsky, Dr. Lovett and Professor Goodman. I must also include Dr. Carter-Waren and Dr. Feinberg, who I got to learn from on a different level as we traveled through Italy together. Each professor was, and I am sure still is, challenging and supportive. I know my volunteer work in Miami helped me grow as an individual. A few of those opportunities include volunteering through Bobcat Serve at Carol City Middle School, I helped coordinate the Safe With Me Campaign: Show of Solidarity Action (S.O.S), and I served as a Criminal Justice Student Ambassador with the City of Miami Gardens. I was also a member of the Psychology Club and the Criminal Justice Club, and the volleyball team. St. Thomas taught me a lot about diversity and community. Always rising together!
      10. What advice do you have for Bobcats that are starting the job hunt? Start early, advocate for yourself and don’t give up! Job searching can be very hard on the heart. Especially since COVID-19. You must continue to send out resumes, call back a week later and check in with the process. Show them you want and deserve the job. But also have fun! Don’t stress so much about the job title or salary and focus on your personal goals and dreams. Also, TRAVEL! Soon you will be swept up in the 9-5 corporate life wishing for those college schedules back. I am so grateful I was able to take advantage of the opportunity STU provided to study abroad! My experience in Italy encouraged me to postpone my first day of work so I could travel to Spain, France and Switzerland before committing to someone else’s schedule. I gave myself time to experience the way people live in other parts of the world! That was invaluable and irreplaceable!

    Jessica poses in front of the infamous gondolas in Venice, Italy during her STU in Italy study abroad trip.


  1. 11. Describe your job in a GIF? 

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