This internship checklist is broken into two parts! First half is all about what you can be doing BEFORE your internship to prepare. The second half focuses on what to expect once you’re there and how to make the most of your experience. You ready?
Money, Money, Money
Internships are expensive! You are, more than likely, going to move for this internship which means you’ll need to find housing, buy your own groceries, and be responsible for rent/fees that come with moving.
If you’re reading this early in the game, and you’re not quite ready for an internship – START SAVING YOUR MONEY NOW. Create a savings account specifically for a future internship. The more places you can apply to without being held back by a financial burden, the better off you’ll be when it comes time for you apply!
If you’re reading this and you’ve secured an internship – YAY! Congratulations! A few tips for you to make the burden as little as possible:
- Check out Furnish Finder (click here)
- Furnish Finder is a great website for traveling health professionals. You can plug in your location + your max monthly budget to find a good housing option perfect for your financial needs! Since Furnish Finder is used often by traveling nurses, the listings include information regarding how close they are to each nearby hospital!
- Your host may also be willing to negotiate price depending on how long you will be staying with them.
- Look into Airbnbs (click here)
- Airbnbs sometimes offer private rooms or entire apartments/houses.
- While the initial price point can be overwhelming, reaching out to each host and asking about extended stays may allow them to cut down the price significantly if they know you’ll be there for several months
- Try Rotating Room (click here)
- Another housing option specifically for medical professionals. This option allows you to input your hospital and they’ll locate rooms available to sublet near the location you put in!
- Ever heard of VRBO? (click here)
- This is similar to Airbnbs, so you’ll need to reach out directly to the hosts and ask about the option for extended stays and lowered prices
- Local Universities
- Sometimes local universities (especially in the summertime) will have dorms available to rent at a highly discounted rates
All Consuming, Time Sucker
Your internship will take up the majority of your time. With working full-time during the week at the hospital, your downtime at home will consist of assignments and straight exhaustion. You’ll appreciate the time that you do have to yourself to breathe.
Because of that, my biggest recommendation is to not take classes or work another job on top of an internship. That’s why creating a budget and saving early on is so so important.
However, only you know what you can emotionally, mentally and physically handle. Some people work better under pressure – it just depends. But if you’re looking for outside advice from someone – my recommendation is to be fully present and immerse yourself into your internship and not worry about doing extra things on the side.
Pack with Self-Care in Mind
If you’re moving – don’t just focus on the essentials (textbooks, good shoes, appropriate attire – whether it be business casual or scrubs, and a journal).
Focus also on what YOU may need if you have a bad day.
Many students find their internship to be one of the most stressful seasons of their lives, simply because it’s a new environment, a lot of new information, and a lot of practice actually (and finally) DOING child life things on your own. All this time you’ve been reading and observing child life but now you finally are in the driver’s seat and it can be absolutely exhausting.
On top of that, you’re having to do some of the not-so-fun child life things like work with non-accidental traumas (abuse), be present for the death of a family member and lead the conversation when talking to the surviving children, or participate in memory making for a child that has passed away.
All of this is a lot on a student and it’s important that when you go home, you have something that feels like “home” to help you process or cheer up.
When I first started as a child life specialist, this looked like King Gyro’s number 5 with a large Sprite, a dark room and my favorite Netflix shows.
Now, my self-care looks like debriefing with my husband, a good cry, and maybe doing something to engage my creative side.
You’ll figure out what works best for you when these situations come up, but it’s good to come into your internship prepared; know that you will experience this and need a game plan or something waiting for you at home (examples: knitting, puzzles, painting supplies, etc).
You’re Here! Hi!
You made it! Welcome!
First thing you should know, is that the onboarding process may take some time. But it shouldn’t be too big of a hassle because your internship hasn’t started and you’re not trying to juggle a million things anymore. This is your only focus! Yay!
So expect it to be time consuming as you send emails back and forth to your supervisor and get all of your identification and login information you need situated. Your patience is so helpful during this time as a lot of it is sometimes outside of your supervisor’s control.
You’ve Got a Friend In Me
A lot of internship sites accept more than one student at a time. Seek to find out the contact information for the other student ahead of time from your supervisor. Connecting with this student will be super helpful as you may decide to share a room and cut the price of your housing in half! You’ll be able to connect with someone who is in the thick of it with you which can be so comforting during this stressful experience.
Use your co-intern(s) as a collaborative resource rather than competition. In the past, when we’ve taken on two or more students at once, it can feel like they’re competing against each other; wanting to look better than their co-intern in their supervisor’s eyes. But here’s the catch: as a supervisor, I want ALL of my students to succeed. There’s definitely things that each student is going to do differently, but make sure that you’re not competing against each other at the end of the day. Because the ultimate goal is that ALL of the students will go on and take their certification exam and be a CERTIFIED Child Life Specialist. And we need good ones out there! So lift each other up and support each other rather than compete and tear each other down!
If you’re the only student – don’t be sad! All of the team’s energy will be going straight to you which means more experiences and prioritizing ONLY your needs rather than trying to juggle the needs of multiple students. Use this to your advantage!
Vulnerability and Courage
Like I mentioned earlier, this experience can be stressful. It’s a new environment, new people, and you’re expected to do things for the first that you may have never done or practiced before.
Be vulnerable with your supervisors and let them know your thoughts. You should have one-on-one time with your supervisor pretty regularly and this is where you can talk about any concerns, struggles, or questions you may be facing.
Ask. Be open, be honest, be vulnerable.
This is your opportunity and while there’s people there to help guide you in the right direction, your vulnerability and honesty with yourself and your supervisors will change the trajectory of this experience overall.