Spring semester is always bittersweet. On the one hand it’s nice to be back in class and catch up with all of your friends; on the other it tends to be a long semester due to the winter and lack of breaks. Spring semester can also be difficult because people are often going through the application process and interviewing for practicum or internship sites for the following year. I think right now at MSPP you can actually see the stress and anxiety that this process can cause. So here are a few tips on how to get through this tedious process with some sort of sanity left over in the end.
The important thing to remember is that everyone finds a site! No matter how many sites you apply to and how many interviews you go on, there’s a place out there for you. To relieve some stress and anxiety in this process try and get things done early. The site search tool on SSIG is your best friend in this process; It can tell you pretty much everything you want to know about a site, so be sure to utilize this tool. Make sure the sites to which you are applying are a good fit. Remember to take into account the training program, the population, the commute, the hours, etc... Also, schedule a meeting with your advisor to sit down and talk about possibilities. Hopefully your advisor can help you narrow your choice down to a few good sites.
Asking for recommendations is never fun- There’s always that one Supervisor or Professor who is notorious for getting things done late. To avoid this simply don’t ask those people or just ask really early. Find out from fellow students who is good to ask and who is not. It’s OK to submit your application if it is missing a recommendation. Just let the site to which you are applying know that you are waiting on one and will send it as soon as your Supervisor or Professor gets it to you. Also, when asking for recommendations make sure to ask for a “strong" recommendation. If the person is not willing to write you a strong letter then find someone else.
Getting your applications out early can be really helpful. It’ll not only feel good to have them done, but your applications will also be one of the first ones to be reviewed by sites. The only problem with applying early is that some sites accept applications until February or March. So, if you get offered a position in January, but don’t have any other interviews scheduled until February you’ll have to make a tough decision: take the offer now and cancel the other interview, or reject the offer and hope something better comes along. It’s always a gamble and really depends what you are looking for in a site and what risk you're willing to take.
Before sending out the applications review all the materials to make sure you have everything. Check for typos and any other errors. Have someone else, like an advisor or professor, look over your cover letter to make sure it’s up to par. Also, remember if sending an email to a site, ATTACH YOUR FILES! I am notorious for forgetting to attach my resume or letters and then having to e-mail the director with some sad lie about how the computer failed to attach my materials. I’m sure they don’t buy it, so avoid this if you can.
Hopefully these few steps can help you out when applying to sites. However, I’m not going to lie - it can be a stressful process- especially as you watch your friends get accepted to sites while you’re still waiting to land an interview. Again, just remember, everyone gets a site and there’s a good match out there for you. After all, sending out all these applications and going on numerous interviews is good practice and can only help you in the future. So, stay positive and don’t let it overwhelm you; it’ll all be over soon.