“You’ll never know what you’re capable of doing if you’re not given more than you think you can do”- Anonymous
“I have not heard back from the clinic about the co-occurring mental health chemical dependency counselor position. Which upsets me, after all I interned there for a WHOLE year. I think of Marian Edelman’s words, or shall I say Six Lessons for Life. I work hard! I have initiative! I am persistence! Which, according to her, are magic carpet tools to success. So why didn’t I get the job? Today I have an interview for a social work position at _____.”
Reading this entry, I find myself laughing and wanting to slap the shit out of my younger self. I had clearly forgotten I was the intern, the HELP! I had slipped into the mindset of most students, which I was at the time. That mindset is thinking I had a solid in with the agency. Thinking because I worked my ass off that I should be moved to the front of the line for any openings. Sadly, that is not often the reality. Don’t spend your practicum time thinking this will turn into a job. You should be learning and milking every source of knowledge, and resource available to you. After all, you are most likely paying to be the HELP!
Within the first week of your practicum, make an appointment with your manager to establish goals. Discuss projects you’d like to tackle and accept ones that you’re not fond of- after all, this is a learning opportunity. Remember you can take these skills elsewhere and the wider your range of skills, the more valuable you will be to the employer. Attend workshops and seminars. Ask questions (one or two is great- beyond that you need to ask for an informational interview), take notes on topics that interest you. Observe the skills used by people in the kinds of positions in which you envision yourself working and polish those skills. Remember everyone you meet is a prospective member of your network.
Reflecting back, I didn’t get the position but I walked away with a tool box full of clinical tools that helped me land plenty of other jobs. I share this to say, do your best work, because the day will come when your internship will come to a close. Before you close that door, schedule a meeting with the team to get feedback, ask about any job opportunities in the company, and (this is important!) ask them to be a reference for your resume! You’ve put months of hard work into your internship, so you might as well make it worth your while.