Finding a practicum or internship site for most counseling students is a daunting task. We all hear the stories of how difficult it is to secure a site, let alone a site that is a great fit for us. For some programs they match you with a site but if you are in a program like mine, the responsibility to secure a placement for your internship is left up to you. Here are some tips to help you and maybe give you peace of mind as you start this journey.
1. Start Early! Seriously, I’m not joking you have to start as soon as possible. Everyone says start early and you may even think you are ahead of the game, but in reality you probably should’ve started when you began your program. I started looking for a site in January 2012 when I was scheduled to start to my practicum in August 2012 and every person I contacted said they were full. It is important to keep in mind that many sites already have interns and those interns have to stay for maybe two or more semesters. Therefore, they may not have room to accept anymore interns at certain times. So how do you prevent becoming frantic about finding a site? start EARLY! I can’t stress that enough.
2. Brainstorm and Make Your Own List. Your school may give you a list of approved sites, but alot of times there are places that aren’t on that list that would make a great site. Get out there and do your research. You can find many agencies that would love interns but just haven’t been asked about it yet. I was able to get the two sites that I was placed at approved and put on the list. This was an advantage to me because I was the only intern at the site in the beginning, and this also opened the door for my peers.
3. Call and Email! I made it a point to email my resume and cover letter while also following up with a phone call. Many site supervisors are constantly in and out of the office, email in my experience email was always very reliable.
4. Ask Questions. Before you go on a interview for a potential placement, make sure you research important questions to ask. There are so many things that are going to be crucial when you make your decision if this is the right site for you. Questions about hours, your supervisor’s credentials, video/audio recording capabalities, what is the client “no show” rate, what theoretical orientation do they use? These are just a few things you want to get information on.
5. Network. Always be mindful of your surroundings and let people know what your doing, who you are, and what your goals are. You never know who you may be sitting next to. Always be on your toes and make connections with people. That counselor you always talk to at the coffee shop, that social worker at your child’s school, your friend that is in non profit, let them know you are looking for a site! It’s all about who you know!
Good Luck! You Can do it! 🙂