Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Cure for Intern Insanity (Part One)

To my loyal crafty friends and followers....
I owe you all an apology for my over extended pause in production, but I am about to make it up to you in a big way!!!!

I receive emails very frequently from students getting ready to apply for child life and internships, and if you have even started considering child life you probably are already aware of the massive headache that comes along with trying to land a child life internship. Don't worry... getting a child life internship is something that CAN be done and I have come up with a few ways to make it a little less stressful and overwhelming and want to share it with those of you hopeful child life dreamers because I know that you will make great interns one day! 
I also think it's important for me to share a little personal detail with you that will maybe help you understand why I am confident in my process and everyone's ability to get the internship they deserve. When I became aware of child life as a student at Alabama, it changed my life. I immediately was dead set on that being my profession one day, and knew I had to do everything I could to set myself up for success. I knew internships would be competitive so I did LOTS of stuff to try and make myself stand out. I added a major in education to my major in Child Life. I joined child life and education student organizations, became an officer of one of them, and contributed in several volunteer opportunities. I also started making really great grades that put me on the Dean's List several semesters in a row, which was very unusual for me before. So when it came time to applying for internships I was very eager and pretty confident. 
After all that I had done to try and ensure an internship... I didn't get an offer.
It was literally one of the worst days of my life. I was so devastated and knew that if I wanted to graduate with a degree in child life I HAD to have an now not only did I not have an internship I was forced to consider either not graduating or just graduating with my education degree and forfeit all the hard work and passion I had put into the past several years. 
After MUCH MUCH crying, contemplation and compromise with my parents, I decided not to give up and signed up for a few extra classes and work with the intention of applying AGAIN the next semester. Knowing that I would have the same chances of getting an internship then as I did the first time. 
As I started to think about what I could have done differently the first time I came up with a plan to prepare my application packets over the whole semester. Allowing myself the chance to make sure I never stressed about getting it all mailed before the deadline. Relieving myself of that major headache changed the whole experience for me. It gave me more time to prepare and focus on my interviewing skills which changed my entire outcome. On the day we were given offers, I got a call from not one..not two..but three hospitals giving me the opportunity to choose the internship I wanted most. 

I rarely EVER tell people that I didn't get an internship the first time I applied because it was, in my mind a huge failure, but looking back I know that it was not a failure it was a redirection. I was given that extra semester as a gift from the good Lord and it was my chance to really get the best out of my "Child Life Dream." 

I say all that...
Because I have seen so many girls give up on their dream when the going gets tough... and I want you to know and believe that when the going gets tough you will come out stronger than the rest! 

ENOUGH ABOUT ME!! Lets get down to business! Shall we?

First of all... if you have any question about whether you are even on the right track with your education, here is a list of recommended courses to take provided by the Child Life Council.

Now lets get started on my plan of action to get you an internship...
There are two phases in this process.
Phase One
Phase one is all about information gathering and organization. Here is what I recommend:
  1. Go to Child Life Internship Programs and write down a list of 15-20 hospitals that you might have interest in
  2. Then go to each of those hospitals websites and find their information about child life. Find out if they are offering an internship during the semester you are applying for. Also briefly look over their minimum requirements to make sure you will even be considered.
  3. Once you've looked up all of the hospitals on your big list, you will have crossed a couple off. Then you can narrow your list down to 10-15 hospitals you feel like are possibilities.
  4. Now you can go back to all of those websites and print off the information they provide regarding their deadlines, prerequisites, application components and address to send application.
  5. Once all of that is gathered you can make your “list”. Make a list of the 10-15 hospitals you chose and just include the hospital name and addresses.                  
  6.  Last step in phase one is make the “Internship Preparation” binder. Buy a folder for every hospital on your list and label the front of them with the hospital name. Then in one pocket of the folder put the information you got from their website regarding their prerequisites. The other pocket will be used for holding the various components you will be sending in that particular application. 
Phase Two
(deep breath)
Most important thing to remember about phase two is START EARLY! Give yourself a couple of months to get everything organized and compiled. Pick a day or two out of every week to work on your applications and just try to take it step by step one hospital at a time. If you wait until the last minute it will be close to impossible to get everything you will need, especially because several of the things you will need will be contingent on other people's time and out of your control. So save yourself the panic and insomnia of application procrastination and do it early friends! 
Alright so lets get to it....
I recommend looking through your list of hospitals and finding out which of them require the most components in their application packet. Once you figure that out then just model all of your application packets that same way so that you wont have to stress over what info goes where. Write down a list of all the various things you are asked to provide from each hospital. Some will ask for essays, some may want 3 rec. letters instead of 2, some may even want a background check. Figure out all of the things you will need and just make it the standard for all of your applications. It wont hurt to provide a little more than you are asked. UNLESS they specifically state that they do not want any extra information. In that case just do what they ask. 
Now lets start talking about the things we know you will need to include...

1. "The CLC's Common Child Life Internship Application" 
You guys have no idea how much of a gift this application form is. I know it looks a little overwhelming, but when I applied for internships every hospital had a different application and that required A LOT more work! So I recommend taking a couple of days to slowly fill this out and allow yourself time to read it over several times over the months of preparation. This will allow you time to really make certain of no mistakes and to also ensure you have the BEST answers for your essay questions. 
You can download the application by clicking on this link or going to the Child Life Council's website.

2. "Recommendation Letters"
This is something you want to do as early as possible. You need to seek out at least three very kind and respected people that think highly of you, which I am sure will be easy. However, these respected people cant just be your lovely grandmother or sweet neighbor next door. As nice as that would be, you will unfortunately need to get recommendations from at least one academic personnel and one Child Life Specialist. (If you don't have any previous supervised work with a CLS you can ask a supervisor or employer that has seen your interactions with children.) 
Whoever does agree to write you letters of recommendation will need to know what it is for and the number of letters they will need to give you. I recommend asking for maybe 2 more than you might need just in case something happens to one. Also be sure to let them know when you will need them by. Give them at least two to three weeks, but make sure you are still giving yourself a week or so before the actual application deadline. 
Last,but certainly not least, make sure you WRITE A VERY THOUGHTFUL THANK YOU LETTER! You may even want to give them a little gift considering they are helping you get the best internship in the whole wide world! :)

3. "Official Transcript"
This is another thing you will want to do early. Depending on your college it may take a little bit of time for the transcripts to get to you, especially because you will be asking for a large number of them. Also, remember you will need one from every university you have attended. sad as it makes me to have to tell you this...sometimes these transcripts do not come cheap so prepare yourself for that. 
Once you get your transcripts DO NOT OPEN them! If you do they wont even consider it. Which would be a total bummer! So get an extra if you are that interested in what might be in that tempting envelope. 

4. "Course Work Review"
I'm pretty sure every internship program asks for some proof of the courses you have taken. Usually they will require that it be in the form of the Child Life Council's Course Work Review. So just go ahead and get the Course Work Review done so you can provide it in all of your applications. Do this early because it is another one of the things that you have no control over when you get your results back. Once you get the results back you can just make copies for each hospital. To get your course work review you can click on this link or go to the CLC website. 

5. "Cover Letter"
So now we are getting down to the things that you have total power and control over. Your cover letter is a formal, one page introduction that can easily boost your name up in the race for potential intern. Although it is a measly three paragraph letter among a highly impressive pile of records and info, it is your opening number and first chance to make an impression. It is your chance to show how confident you are about your awesomeness and how you know you will be the best intern their particular program has ever had! However, say all that in a much more educated way with less sass and more humility. :)
Your cover letter allows you a chance to list the skills that you feel like will set you apart from other interns, and how those skills will be best for their particular program. Which will then be your opportunity to really impress them with what you know about their Child Life Program. This is a really really important thing to do! Let them know you aren't just applying to their program because you just need an internship somewhere. Instead, let them know you are applying there because you truly feel it is the best. Do your research on what kind of philosophy their child life program runs on, and what kind of special services they provide. I promise this little extra effort will mean a lot to the people who are reading them...and they are the ones we want to make happy remember!  

6. "Resume"
The resume seems to be one of the hardest things to get just right. There are several ways to format a resume, and they are all great as long as they are clear and concise. NO LONGER THAN TWO PAGES!
I have piles and piles of resources on how to write a resume and will be happy to share them with anyone needing a little extra help. Just email me and we will see what all I can help you with!

7. "Verification of Hours"
You will need to provide verification of the hours you did in both your practicum and in working with well children. Your supervisor will gladly write you a little letter or sign a form vouching for your work. This is something you should get pretty easily from the people you worked with. It's best to try and get them immediately following the completion of your time you spent at each institution. Then you can keep them safe in your records and wont have to back track once you get around to applying for internships. 

8. "Thank You Letter"
Last and certainly not least, I highly recommend including a hand written "Thank You" letter in your application packet. It doesn't need to be over the top. Just a few sentences expressing your appreciation for their time looking over your phenomenal application. Make sure it sounds professional and sincere. No one ever loses points for saying thank you :)

That's not so bad, right!!
I know that it is possible for every single person to fulfill their child life dream and I want to do just a small part in helping you see it through. 
With that being said...
I have another post coming VERY soon on my recommendations for the second part of the internship game. I will give you all of my recommendations on the do's and dont's of interviews as well as my opinions on how you should prepare and even what to wear!! 
Until then...
I will GLADLY help anyone needing extra resources or advice on the application process. I will even look over what you have already compiled if you need someone to proof read! 
My email is: 

Hope you all land the internship of your dreams!

Much Love...

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