By Kaley Thornton
My experience with finding my junior internship was basically a rollercoaster. Every internship site is different in the way they hire their interns, but maybe my experience can help someone when they begin to look for their first internship. There is such a thing as looking too soon, and there are questions that should be asked before accepting an internship position. These are both things I learned the hard way.
I first began looking for an internship the fall semester of my Junior year. I was on the hunt for an internship for the summer of 2017. The first thing I did differently was look out of state, rather than in state, for a site. I’m a single mother, I have rent and babysitter fees to pay, so I knew I needed to find somewhere that pays and provides housing. I used the ATRA website to find hiring internship sites, and that’s where I found three various places in the Colorado Springs area. A few of which specifically said that they provide housing and pay.
I first tried calling the hospitals, but had no luck with getting a return call. I then decided to email the Recreational Therapists on these sites personally, attaching my resume, a cover letter, and a reference list. I simply explained where I go to school and that I’m considering my internship for the following summer. After about two weeks, I heard back from two out of three sites. Both sites told me that they did have openings, but that they would have to start a contract through my school. At this point, I sent the information to my intern advisor, and he began the paperwork and communication with the sites.
After about a month, my advisor and I did not hear back from either site. I then decided to email them again, but to no avail. Christmas break came and went, and I was nervous about my internship creeping up on me. When classes began for the spring semester, I reached out to both sites, and immediately heard back from one. Throughout the month of January, we got the contract started and were getting dates finalized for my internship site. There wasn’t any interview, and they didn’t call my references, but they said that I was accepted to their hospital as an intern. I was getting pretty excited, and felt it was a good time to ask how much I would be getting paid so I could plan accordingly.
This is when I got my first major dip in my rollercoaster ride. I was informed that there had been a miscommunication about whether the internship was paid or not. On the ATRA website, this specific internship opportunity did not specify “yes” or “no” on whether they have benefits, and I had just assumed that since the other Colorado sites said yes, that this specific one did too. At this point I had to thank them for accepting me as an intern, but that I had to respectfully decline due to personal reasons.
It’s now month two into the semester, and my fellow classmates are finding their new internship sites. I was beginning to panic a little bit, but still had hope of finding the right
internship for me. My classmates and I were given an opportunity to volunteer at the annual Oklahoma Recreational Therapy Organization. I took this opportunity to hand out my resume to potential supervisors and networked with as many people as I could. This was nerve wracking for me because I’m typically very introverted. I was given several praises for being prepared, but 80% of the time it was followed with “we already have our intern hired for this summer.”
I was starting to lose hope, but my intern advisor had a connection to a hospital nearby. This specific hospital was the same field that I’m interested in and is known for being hard to get into without a recommendation. The only dilemma was that this specific site is an hour drive from my home and doesn’t pay. I went ahead and emailed this site, letting them know I was looking for my internship and sent them my information.
As I waited for a response from this internship site, I then went back to the ATRA website and looked at all the internships available. I looked for quite a while before I found Bradford Woods. The website specifically said that there’s pay and housing, and when I read the description, I fell in love with their facility. I immediately emailed the site and gave them my credentials. Afterwards, I set up a meeting with my intern advisor to discuss everything that was going on.
During our meeting, he informed me of some concerns he had for me to go to a camp setting rather than a clinical setting. We discussed pros and cons and came to the conclusion that Bradford Woods would be a great place to go for Junior internship, since it was the spitting image of what kind of career I want after school.
Bradford Woods communicated with me very quickly and I had set up a Skype interview within a week. The interview lasted about an hour long, and we discussed what the camp offers for their campers, and what my role would be as an intern at their site. The more we discussed the opportunity, the more I fell in love with it. When the interview was over, I was told that they would get back to me on their decision.
While I waited to hear back from Bradford Woods, I then emailed the hospital in Oklahoma to let them know that I found a potential other site. They were very understanding and were glad I was keeping them in the loop, although I did take a little longer to respond than I would like to admit.
After a week from my interview, Bradford Woods had asked me for my internship manual so that they could determine if they would meet all the requirements for my education. I then sent them a copy of the manual as well as my intern advisor’s information. After another week of waiting to hear back from Bradford Woods, they emailed me with a letter asking me to join their facility. After accepting, they sent me a link to the paperwork that needed to be filled out by me.
The biggest things I had to do were fill out paperwork like I would at any job with my information on it, a TB test, and a physical. I already have my CPR and First Aid training, but since Bradford Woods is in a different state, I had to be sure that mine complied with their requirements. Soon after all of that was finished, I got an email from my intern advisor letting me know that the contract was already set up and complete.
Now that I have my internship set up and I’m ready to go, I have to send my intern advisor some paperwork over my health and proof of insurance. This was a very interesting journey to say the least, but I’ve learned that I just need to take it one step at a time, and I will get there.