A Letter to My Younger Self – Nate C.

  • November 17, 2016
  • Nathan Cornish

younger self

We’re back again with another “Letter To My Younger Self” this week! This time, our co-clinical director, Nate Cornish, M.S., CCC-SLP, is sharing his advice to his younger, “CF” self. With a tell-it-like-it-is personality, Nate doesn’t hold back on his honest advice to his younger self. Whether you’re a student, CF, or even a seasoned SLP, you will most likely learn a thing (or seven) after reading Nate’s letter!


“Dear CF Nate,


You’ll figure all this out on your own, of course, but I’d like to share a few things that will make your life a lot easier, a little faster.

  1. Get over imposter syndrome. Being competent ≠ knowing it all.  Be confident in what you know and confident that you can learn what you don’t.  None of the people you work with can respect what you have to offer until you respect it yourself.


  1. Ask “Why?” You’ve become good at asking other questions: “What do I target in treatment?  Which language do I test in? How do I administer this assessment?”  Start asking “Why?” after each of these questions.  At one moment or another, the processes you learned aren’t going to work.  Knowing why that process was supposed to work will help you modify it.  It will also help you justify and explain what you do to others.


  1. This is an art and a science. A lot of the questions that will come up haven’t been answered yet, (or the commonly-accepted answer is going to change).   Remember to be a scientist and learn where to find evidence and how to assess its value.  Then be an artist and apply it to that screaming five-year-old who speaks a language you don’t.


  1. Reach out. Although you’re working with kiddos in a windowless broom closet right now, don’t isolate!  Your students need you to see what their peers are doing.  They need you to help them plug into their classes.  Plus, you’re going to need the mentoring you get from the art teacher and the friendship you develop with the history teacher.  Helping out the PTA is going to earn you some important allies for addressing school issues.  Some of the best materials and techniques you’ll ever get are going to come from the ELL department.


  1. Be a diplomat. No, the principal doesn’t know what you do and she’s not going to learn it all today.  She’s also a busy lady.  (You don’t want her job!)  Figure out what she needs to know now and what can wait until later.  What has to be put on hold until she trusts you?  What investments can you make now that will build that trust and have some pay-off down the road?


  1. Say, “Yes.” The best moments of your professional and personal life are going to happen because you said “Yes” to an opportunity you weren’t sure you could do ahead of time.  Get involved with your professional association.  Supervise that CF.  Speak in front of groups of people.  Write that article.  You won’t be great at first, but you’ll learn by doing.


  1. Keep your head up. You are going to get tired and stressed – I mean… even more than in grad school.  You’ll wonder if it’s because you’re not doing something right, but then you’ll learn that even experienced clinicians feel that way sometimes.  You are just beginning a career that, even on its roughest days, you won’t regret even once.  It will continually challenge and reward you.  That’s worth a heckuva lot of evals, Medicaid notes, and IEP meetings.


All the best,

Future Nate


P.S.  Put money on the Cubs in 2016.  No, seriously.”



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