Teaching At The New England Center For Children Was Her First Job Out Of College, And It Transformed Her Career was originally published on WayUp.
The New England Center for Children®—also known as NECC®—offers a wide range of services to children with autism through education, research, and technology. At NECC, employees are encouraged to continue their education beyond training, and pursue graduate education with financial assistance.
We spoke with NECC employee, Fatoumatta Njie-Jallow to learn about her experience working at NECC.
When Fatou first started at NECC, she didn’t know it would propel her into a career in Health Services. In her nearly 20 years at NECC Fatou earned her master’s, changed departments, and created a role at the company.
After graduating from college with a degree in psychology, Fatou’s first job was teaching at NECC. As a teacher, Fatou used her background in psychology to gain a greater understanding of her students’ emotions and needs.
A standout moment in her time in NECC was when the Michael S. Dukakis Aquatic Center was constructed, and she witnessed her students play without their typical restrictions. In the water, students could relax and move freely, and the pool became a much-anticipated part of their week. “I used to work with a student, that when he was in the water, he was a different child,” she said. After working as a teacher for nearly 4 years, Fatou decided to shift career tracks and pursue an internal opening for a healthcare coordinator.
While working as a healthcare coordinator, Fatou was able to earn a graduate degree which led to another career move.
In her role as a healthcare coordinator, she took students to their dental appointments, and oftentimes saw that they had challenges while in the dental chair. Over the years she watched them progress and grow in a way that made these appointments run more smoothly. What she likes the most about her work is the difference that she and her NECC coworkers make in the students’ lives. “Our primary role here is to work, in whatever capacity and in whatever department we’re in, to help improve the quality of life for the students that we serve,” she said.
After several years in this position, Fatou decided that she wanted to take the next step in her career. She earned her master’s in Health Administration with financial support from NECC and searched for an administrator position. “When I graduated there was not a position available for a Health Admin, so I approached my boss and expressed that there was a need for this position. My boss agreed and created the role for me.”
Fatou always felt comfortable advocating for herself in her career at NECC, which ultimately led her to leadership positions. Her advice for those interested in pursuing a career at NECC, is to use your role to gain experience that will benefit you wherever you want to go. For example, if you have an interest in pursuing a role in the NECC business department, you can gain vital skills as a teacher learning to balance the team’s budget.
To early-career candidates, Fatou says, “When you come in through the door, make sure that you take advantage of the graduate program and tuition reimbursement offerings. Take a class or two and see if you really like it.”
Whether you’re interested in teaching students with autism or serving this community in another capacity there are plenty of ways to do so at NECC. Here you’ll be supported throughout your career and given plenty of opportunities to try on different hats. If you’re interested in learning more about early-career roles at NECC click here.
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