For many students training to be Health Service Providers (HSP), the internship application process tends to be one of the most stressful periods of their graduate school training. Preparing applications by looking through training brochures of multiple internship sites, writing cover letters, completing essays, logging hours… the list goes on. It is difficult to really practice self-care during this intensive process, and sometimes we find ourselves struggling to complete an application in the eleventh hour. A number of sites have early deadlines, some before November, while others go straight through to the end of November/early December. Students can choose different ways of submitting their applications, some opting to submit in batches, based on deadlines, while others may opt to submit all applications at one time.
If you’ve finished submitting your application at this point, CONGRATULATIONS! This is the perfect time to take a break!
Some students may be thinking, “Now is the time to prepare for my interviews, plan travel, etc.” As someone who has been through this same process last year and also taking part in it again this year, my advice is this: DON’T DO IT.
You will have time to prepare. You will have time to plan. Take this time to really relax: read a book, take a yoga class, have a glass of wine, catch a movie or two, hang out with friends. The process of applying for internship is long and arduous, and you will be working on it for a fairly long period of time. I remember being highly stressed from September through February (Match Day) last year, trying to complete internship applications, while simultaneously trying to complete other requirements of my program. That means I endured at least 5 months of being highly anxious. As psychology students, we understand that being in such a heightened state of anxiety for an extended period of time is detrimental to our mental health. So we should practice what we preach and embrace our own self-care.
If you are worried….
….about getting enough interviews to match, know that you’ve done all you can, and now it is out of your hands.
….that you might need to schedule internship interviews promptly (be it for time or finances), know that for most sites, you have the option of doing a phone interview, and that you can always ask for certain accommodations. Internship sites tend to be understanding of the financial and schedule limitations of graduate students, and they are likely to be accommodating.
….about preparing sufficiently to excel for internship interviews, know that you have time to prepare. Some interviews may require you to interpret psychological test data, while others may have vignettes to test your clinical acumen. Know that you’ve got this. You have gone through years of training, and you are ready to tackle this.
….about not matching, I would encourage you to look at the match statistics. Last year, a total of 94% of people participating matched, and 85.4% of students in accredited programs matched to accredited internship sites. Statistically, you have a pretty good chance of matching.
When we are too immersed in the process, we tend to miss out on other perspectives. And what we miss out on most often is our own self-care.
So get out there and enjoy the time you have before interviews, because you certainly deserve the break.
Editor’s Note: Jerrold Yeo is an international student from Singapore pursuing his PsyD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Denver. He is also the current Member-at-Large, Practice Focus on the APAGS Committee.