Throughout undergrad, internship was something I knew I had to do before I could finish my degree and take the certification exam, but for the first year or two of school, I didn’t know much about it. I went to every presentation or talk about internship that I could. However, it seemed that everything focused on what internship was and application and interview tips. I did not have hardly any knowledge of what internship itself was going to be like. As I’m finishing up my last week of internship, I decided to write this article to give a small glimpse into internship and my tips for making the most of your time as an intern.
Tip #1: The sooner you come to terms with the fact that internship is not going to be like school, the better.
We have been students our whole lives, so do not underestimate how big of an adjustment this will be. You’re used to being told what you need to do, what is expected, when it is expected, and you’re used to being graded on everything. Prepare yourself for all of that to go away. You have a midterm and final evaluation, but that is about the closest thing you get to being graded. You won’t have a number or letter to tell you how you’re doing along the way.
Tip #2: Go to bed.
I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. In college, I would stay up late studying, talking to roommates, watching TV, etc. I was lucky enough to not have classes until 10 or 11:00 my senior year. I was in for a bit of a rude awakening when I realized I had to be at work at 8:00 (sometimes even 7:30). I was exhausted for the first few months while my body adjusted. If you’re not used to waking up early, try to start training your body to wake up sooner and go to bed earlier before starting internship. Save yourself some exhaustion and under-eye concealer.
Tip #3: Stay organized!
You will be making so many session plans and visuals. Take this as an opportunity to build up resources to start off your professional career with. I bought a big filing box with a folder for each population I worked with where I would store all of my session plans, extra lyric sheets and worksheets, and any visuals that I made. Don’t let these get crumbled up in your desk; you worked so hard on them! Preserve them for later!
Tip #4: Self-care really is important.
This is something I am still working on every day. Adjusting to a full time work schedule and moving away from home, family, and friends can take a toll on your physical and mental health. I had to learn this lesson the hard way when my hair started falling out (yikes). Find some things you enjoy doing for fun, and make sure you take some time to relax! I wish I would have been more proactive about this.
Tips #5: Be open-minded.
After several semesters of practicum before moving on to internship, you might have a pretty good idea of what populations you want to work with. When applying for internships, you probably narrowed down what internships you’d apply for based on those populations. However, during internship, you will get more clinical experience than all of your practicums combined, so I encourage you not to count out other populations. You might find that you like working with certain populations more than you expected.
Tip #6: Progress does not happen overnight.
Internship is six months long for a reason. You won’t be “entry level professional” status after your first week. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Take every bit of feedback you get and implement it. You’ll get there, but be patient!
Internship is definitely a big change, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. Your supervisors are there to help you and shape you. Make lasting connections with supervisors and other professionals you meet along the way. Soak up every bit of knowledge you can. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, but be kind to yourself. Internship goes by faster than you expect it to, so make the most of it!
For a list of National Roster Internship Sites, please visit: https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=amta2&WebCode=OrgSearch
For more information on STAR Center’s internship, please visit: http://star-center.org/internships/