Keeping it All Straight: Internship Applications

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The days keep coming and I am officially half-way through my graduate program and let me tell you, it feels good! I have registered for my fall courses, am preparing for my internship and brainstorming the beginning stages for my Integrative Masters Project. It is starting to all feel real! Time has gone by so fast and it seems like yesterday that I was struggling to find a way to organize my application materials, balance work, classes and internship applications, all while keeping my sanity.

Three years ago, I was starting my senior year of my undergrad and I was, at that time, preparing to apply for internships as an independent or unaffiliated student after I graduated. As I began to pull materials together, I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. It was a few weeks before the applications were due that I thought to myself, “This is not my best work.” I did not want to submit materials that I did not feel confident in or proud of. As I was building my applications this past spring, I felt more confidence in my essays, experience, and applications and had the support of my advisors and classmates. Fellow students, this one is for you! How I organized and prepared for internship applications:

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The biggest piece of advice that I got before applying for a child life internship was to find a way to organize the research gathered about the hospitals you are looking into. Good Drive was my best friend during this process. I created a folder and started a google sheets document where I organized the programs’ information. Each row was a hospital, and the columns had materials that the program was asking for. Catagories I used were:

  • Location
  • Length of internship – Sometimes the number of weeks vary
  • Resume/CV
  • Enrollment verification – Some programs do not accept unaffiliated students and require enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program.
  • Transcripts – Do they require official transcripts or will copies work?
  • Eligibility Assessment/Coursework Review – Some hospitals will not ask for transcripts if they require an eligibility assessment from the ACLP.
  • Letters of recommendation – Certain programs will ask for sealed letters of recommendation. Be sure to look closely at what each hospital requires. Some sites will have a form for the references to fill out, some want them sent directly to them and some want them with your application. I found it easier when I could keep them with the other application materials.
  • Practicum & Volunteer hours – Many internship sites will require practicum experience in addition to or as a part of your volunteer hours. Either way, I recommend doing a practicum. Watch for a post about my practicum experience later this summer!
  • Essays
  • Application Fees
  • Address – I added the full mailing address in the spreadsheet. This made it much easier when my husband and friends were helping me address envelopes.
  • Website – I also included a direct link to the hospitals’ internship program page to reference as I was working on my materials.

As time went on, I would add any information that I stumbled upon. This included if the program helped with housing (for out of state programs), any extra requirements (one hospital asked for a colored headshot!) or programs that I found especially interesting specific to the hospital.

As I completed my applications, I checked the hospital’s website often to not miss any changes. Believe it or not, I had to remove quite a few hospitals from my initial list as they announced they weren’t accepting Fall 2018 interns. I used Google Drive folders to keep my materials together for each hospital. Many classmates of mine took a similar approach, using file folders and hard copies of all materials. When it came time to print and send in my applications, I used a sticky note system to list off all needed materials. Once all of the materials were done and in the requested order, I would seal it up and put it in the completed pile!

The biggest piece of advice I can give child life students who are beginning the application process is to research, find a way to make sense of the plethora of information, and breathe. Trust the process. Be confident in the work you are putting out there and be open to learning more.

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For any questions about applying for child life internships, feel free to reach out! I’m not an expert, by any means, but I would love to share tips and tricks from my experiences.

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