As a current intern at the Western Kentucky Psychology Internship Consortium, I know first hand that the internship time of year can bring a plethora of emotions; for example, excitement, sadness, anxiety, and worry. That being said I am here to share several tips with you while on this journey.
The only content the internship site has access to about you, is on the file you send. Sell yourself and your experiences to make the site want to meet you in person. GET OFFERED THAT INTERVIEW!
When writing cover letters and other documents specifically for the site, DO NOT MAKE A GENERIC TEMPLATE. I am going to be completely honest. I spent about 3 hours on each cover letter. I looked at the site, viewed specific rotations/experiences they offered (wrote about 2-3) that I already possessed demonstrating why I would be a good fit, and then included (1-2) experiences the site offered I had limited experience with, but wanted to gain more.
Think about the cost. You have too! When considering applying to sites, see how much they are paying students. Do you really want to take out loans the last year of your program? Do you want to limit possible experiences while on internship? Also, consider the cost for interviewing at the site. It’s important! Some save part of their student loans. On the other hand, I worked the night shift to cover my expenses.
For example, if you are interested in a site in California, but they are paying $30,000-$40,000. Is that really enough? If you are living in a rural area in Northern California possibly, but not Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you could pay for your basic living expenses, how much does that leave for entertainment/shopping? You really have to consider this, as well as how much is it going to cost to travel to your sites. Say for example, you got one interview at a site in Los Angeles that was going to pay $40,000 but you had 5 interviews within driving distance. Are you willing to spend $500 on a plane ticket, $50 on a car rental, $175 on a hotel, etc. for one interview? Some would, some wouldn’t. It’s an important aspect to consider.
ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE ORGANIZE
As you start to hear from sites, get a calendar and fill in the dates the site has interviews. You may hear from two sites (site A and site B) with overlapping days, but site A may only have one interview day, where site B has two. Obviously, if you want to interview at site A you only have one interview day to choose from and have to select the other day for site B. In a different color pen/marker after you solidify your interview day mark it in your calendar. I would at least include the site name, the address, and the length of time for your interview.
Interview dates you first marked are for knowing and organizing when the sites are conducting interviews, as well as to help organize and plan to travel. The second marking in your calendar are your confirmed interview days. I placed a huge pink border around these days. An example to consider is, possibly you are from Oregon and interviewing in Oklahoma and have an interview the next day in Arkansas. If you plan accordingly you can go right to Arkansas instead of going back to Oregon. IF YOU DON’T ORGANIZE YOUR INTERVIEWS YOU COULD MISS THE ABILITY TO SEE INTERVIEWS ARE CLOSE TOGETHER, therefore saving time and money.
Important to note, if you are in a state that is close to another interview site, it’s okay to ask if you can interview ahead of time. Some sites are flexible and accommodating. IF YOU DON’T ASK ITS AN AUTOMATIC NO.
Always have a protein bar and water. Sometimes you may not have the ability to eat a meal or stop and grab something. These two items are small to put in luggage or a bag and come in handy.
BE CALM AND CONFIDENT
Do not be nervous! I was at first until I told myself (with confidence), the site already likes me, they wouldn’t have wanted to interview me if they didn’t. They want to meet me. NOW IT IS MY TURN TO SEE IF I LIKE THEM.
When interviewing make sure you are able to distinguish yourself. What makes you different from everyone else who applied and interviewed? I was surprisingly asked this question from half of the sites I interviewed at. It honestly makes sense. What makes me stand out from everyone else? What would I bring to the internship, that another student wouldn’t? Everyone who gets offered an interview is clearly qualified on paper, that’s why the site wanted to interview us. WHAT MAKES ME DIFFERENT AND AN ASSET TO THEM? This component helped ease my anxiety.
When interviewing come with three questions related to the site, NOT ON THE WEBSITE OR BROCHURES. Having unique questions makes you stand out and the interviewers remember you.
BE AWARE OF THE UNSPOKEN
Take in as much information as you can while on the interview. Notice the work environment, how do others interact? Do you think the internship site is genuinely friendly and engaged, or is it just because it’s interview day? What are the accommodations like? Do they offer a cafeteria with low cost meals to employees? Do the bathrooms have working sinks and toilets? What are the resources for interns? Do interns have their own office space, their own computer, a printer? The unspoken information you can obtain from a site while interviewing is in my opinion, even more important than what words can say.
After interviewing, write down everything, the positives and negatives. IF YOU DON’T YOU WILL FORGET IT. When ranking consider what you wrote down about the sites immediately after you were there. After submitting your rankings, double check they are correctly in the order you like, but not too many times (this causes anxiety).
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, BREATHE AND REACH OUT TO OTHERS
Recognize your support system and take time to breathe. This time, as I mentioned, comes with a wide range of emotions and stress. Whenever possible take sometime out to relax in-between interviews. I didn’t, but I wish I had because after all my interviews were over, I felt like I was in overdrive. Remember this process in total is temporary. You will get through it! Just take it step by step, enjoy the moments when you can breathe, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system.
Katy Roth, M.A., CRC
WKPIC Doctoral Intern