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New Grad Spotlight: Meet Coby Lee, Travel OT

1. Why did you decide to do travel OT as a new grad?

Travel OT wasn't something I considered or even want to do when I first started school as an OT ( I know most people have a dream to do travel). I was living at home with my mom in the last year of grad school as we had gone remote due to the pandemic and then the last semester of the program was our fieldwork/clinicals. Some other life events happened and I knew that I didn't want to stay in the state of NJ and did not want to stay living at home to help pay off loans. I knew the job market in NJ/ NY was pretty saturated in general even pre-Covid.

With the pandemic, jobs were even fewer and farther in between. So I started to look into travel OT as I could 1. move out of my house while still in debt (while being financially responsible) 2. I could get a job and 3. I could go see the rest of the country. Also my thinking was if I hated it it's only a 13 week commitment so I could go back home and just look for a perm job. To me it was a no brainer! So I started researching travel OT and started my first contract!

2. Where have you worked so far? Location? Setting?

So far I've completed 1 contract and am almost midway through my second. My first was in Folsom California at an outpatient pediatric clinic. The one I'm currently at is an Acute Care hospital in Farmington, Connecticut.

3. What have you enjoyed most about travel OT so far?

So far I enjoy the flexibility of it all. I loved that I was able to move to California and complete a contract out there and spend some time road-tripping back to the east coast without having to accrue vacation days like I would have needed if I were to have a perm position.

4. What have you found to be the biggest changes of travel OT?

The biggest challenge for me as a new grad was finding an acute care/ hospital setting on the west coast after my first contract ended. Ideally, my plan was to stay on the west coast for more than just 1 contract, however, that didn't happen as I was picky with the setting I wanted to go to next. The other big challenge is the logistics of everything so I can minimize the amount of time between contracts and subsequently the amount of time I spend without pay. So telling companies I'd be able to start, securing housing for my next contract, and ensuring I have a place to live, and the logistics of having transportation is still something I'm still learning to do as efficiently as possible.

5. What's next for you?

After this contract, I want to continue doing acute care and continue getting experience in that setting and/or complete a contract in North Carolina.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring new grad OTs who want to travel?

So I heard a lot from other professionals (who mostly meant well) that you need experience/ that I should work a perm job for at least 2 years before starting travel. My advice is if it's something you really want to do/ pursue start researching and understand how travel works and start the process. The process of learning about travel and committing may seem daunting but is so worth it! There are a ton of resources and people that can help give you insight into travel!


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