"The most rewarding part of my job is seeing others grown, and being a part of this transcendent process."

Role Model Photo Kimberly Weaster

Health Field: Licensed Professional Counselor

Number of years in the profession:
6 year

Years in College: 11 years

Professional Credentials:
M.Ed., LPC, NCC

How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
My first job was as a mental health worker at a psychiatric hospital. Although some days were challenging, every day was interesting and different. And I always felt that I was making a difference by supporting others in difficult times. Plus this field supports lifelong learning, academic and social-emotional. All these factors have contributed to my unwavering passion for this work.

What other careers did you consider?
High school English teacher

What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
Family members who struggled with mental health issues contributed to my interest in, and compassion for, working with individuals and families struggling with emotional problems.

What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
I volunteered as a hotline counselor at a shelter for women who had experienced abuse. My internship spanned several areas: a community mental health center, a psycho-educational facility for families interfacing with the criminal justice system, a residential treatment center, and a public school.

What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
Juggling educational, experiential, home and family, and financial needs was very challenging, and required continual planning and much flexibility. The support of my family was invaluable.

How did you overcome these challenges?
I communicated openly about my career needs up front to employers and professors. By being continually proactive about my demanding schedule, I was able to successfully overcome potential obstacles. I found the majority of the time I was supported in my goals to improve myself.

Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?
Yes

Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? Yes


Present Career as a Licensed Professional Counselor


Describe an average work day for you.
Because I work with individuals in crisis, it is particulary important to take care of my own physical and emotional health needs. I rise early, work out, and typically get to work early to line out my day. I contact families by phone early a.m. and early evening. I teach during the day, and see clients in the evenings and on weekends.

How many hours do you work in an average week?
40-50

What kind of health care setting do you work in?
Residential treatment center for children and adolescents with emotional/behavioral disabilities.

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Emotional insight, flexibility, resilience, open-mindedness, appreciation for difference

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing others grow after struggling, and being a part of this transcendent process.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Begin early (in high school) by connecting with your guidance counselor about your interests. Volunteer for positions in your areas of interest, and some on the periphery of your interests. By casting your volunteer net wide, you will experience more. These volunteer experiences are invaluable opportunities to learn more about where you will fit into your counseling path, as well as to network and learn from others.

If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
Absolutely! Although sometimes the work is exhausting, I am always re-energized to come back the next day to support and discover. The demands are high, and the work is equally rewarding.

Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
I am a lifelong learner and am always taking coursework to expand myself. I seek out and participate in professional development continually.

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