Starting the Career Search: Tips for Young ODs

June 1, 2023
A young doctor of optometry starting a career search can be aided greatly with timely advice from an OD who has been there before.
Young Woman with Glass on Shirt Typing at Laptop Computer

Parts of this article were originally published on February 28, 2022.

Beginning the search and setting a career path can raise numerous questions, particularly for young ODs.  A good place to start is to seek advice from an experienced OD who has navigated the process before.  To that end, AOAExcel Chairman, Samuel Pierce O.D., shared some helpful guidance to use during an early career search.

An important piece of the puzzle is to seek out advice from professionals who have been in your shoes.  “Don’t be afraid to seek counsel from people you respect” says Dr. Pierce. “Talk to doctors that have experience in the practice environment you desire to be in. If you want to buy a practice, then talk to a doctor that has bought a practice. If you want to work in a co-management surgical practice, then talk to a doctor that works in or owns a co-management practice.”

Related to that, Dr. Pierce recommends that utilizing your personal network can be a key factor in your career search. Be sure to take advantage of industry tools and networking platforms as well.  “It’s a great idea to “see and be seen” as much as possible, from local society meetings to state and regional meetings and of course Optometry’s Meeting,” he suggests.  “Interacting with professional peers is a great way to learn about professional opportunities and meet people that can possibly help you start your professional journey.”

Thinking about the big picture will be beneficial to your search.  Keep in mind the long-range goals that you hope to eventually accomplish.  Keeping those goals at the forefront can help guide you when applying for positions.  “Think more long term than short term” notes Dr. Pierce.  “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?  Ask yourself what are you doing now to help or hurt you get to where you want to be later in your career”.

Students and residents often ask about the realistic expectations of when one should begin to search for their first position.  Of course, many factors can determine how long it takes to land a position you are seeking.  Dr. Pierce offers guidance about tempering your expectations: “In a perfect world, you should have the first step of your career lined up by the time you graduate or finish your residency. In a less than perfect world, you should at least know what you want to do, and the challenge is finding where you will do it.”

Taking these suggestions into account will help guide you through the process of starting your career path.  Additional guidance as well as the most current job opportunities are available at the AOAExcel Career Center.

Ready to start your career search? Take a look at current open positions on the AOAExcel Career Center job board including the salaries and benefits available in the areas across the country.

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