It may finally be time to apply for your final-year externship! You’ve studied hard, grown as a clinician, and developed special interests. Now is the time to put all of that to use and land the final-year externship of your dreams. It’s time to prepare your materials and practice for your interviews. For me, these steps ensured that I was prepared for the externship process and left a memorable first impression.
Build a Powerful Resume
Your resume should highlight your strengths, skills, and work ethic. All of the “small” things you participated in, such as fundraisers, hearing screenings, conferences, manufacturer trainings, and more should be included in your resume. This shows that you go above and beyond the standard expectations and requirements of your program. If you had a job before or during your graduate education that relates to audiology directly or indirectly, include it along with your roles and responsibilities. One great tool that the Academy offers is a free resume review for members, which was a wonderful tool in my preparation! They provided great feedback on wording, formatting, and prioritizing the most important information in order to make my resume catch the eye of its readers.
Write a Meaningful Letter of Intent
Many clinical sites receive dozens of applications. Writing a meaningful letter of intent is how you make yourself stand out. Write about what led you to pursue audiology, your favorite memory with a population you served at a specific clinical site, and your “why” for the clinic site – why it stood out to you on HEARCareers (or wherever you found it). While your resume includes important information, this is the interviewers’ first impression of you, so make it count!
Secure Solid Letters of Recommendation
Think about the professors and clinical preceptors that have really made a difference in your education. Those that have invested their time and knowledge in you are likely to provide strong letters of recommendation. I prepared a “talking points” sheet for those that wrote my letters which outlined my experience, my interests, and why I wanted to go to that particular site. This makes their job much easier and reminds them how prepared and professional you are. Once you have received your letters of recommendation, always follow up with a thank you note!
Submit the Application
In many circumstances, when submitting your application, it will be the first time interacting with this facility. In your letter of intent, make it personal and memorable. Include a random fact about yourself, why you’re excited to apply to this site, or a service they provide that you want to learn more about. Make sure you include all of the proper documents (check, double-check, and triple-check). Nothing is worse than sending the wrong letter of intent to the placement of your dreams!
Prepare for the Interview
Ask professors, classmates, family members, current preceptors, or really anyone who will listen to conduct a mock interview with you. This will give you time to prepare for commonly asked questions as well as some out-of-the box questions. Remember that it is important to not sound overly rehearsed. Those who are interviewing you have reviewed your resume, letter of intent, reached out to professionals who may know you, and more than likely have glanced at some of your social media. You should also research the services offered, the facility, their mission, as well as the people you are interviewing with if possible.
Be authentic! One of the best pieces of feedback I received prior to starting my interview process was to be willing to admit when I didn’t know something. For example, if I was asked a question about a topic I haven’t had much experience or training in, I would reply: “That is a great question. I have not had much experience with ABC. Here is what I do know about that topic. I would love to learn more and I know that your placement would give me that opportunity.”
You should also ensure that the facility has all of the aspects you are searching for. Does it offer the clinical opportunities you are interested in? What about interdisciplinary opportunities, trainings, or research? This is your opportunity to interview this facility as well and determine if this is the correct fit for you. Always have at least one or two questions prepared at the end of the interview. This shows that you are interested in the position.
Send a Follow-up Thank You Letter or Email
I’m not sure if this is the “Southern belle” that has been instilled in me from such a young age, but always, always, always send a thank you email. If there are weeks between stages of interviews, send a handwritten note! If there are only a few days, email works just as well. Thank the interviewers for taking time out of their busy day, meeting with you, and learning more about the opportunity.
It’s important to remember that this is an exciting time in your educational career. Explore all of the options, plan, and prepare to help ensure you obtain the best final-year externship for you. For other externship-related posts, search the keyword #externship on the SAA Blog! Best of luck!
Caitlyn Crowder is a third-year Doctor of Audiology student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She recently accepted a fourth year externship position at the University of Missouri ENT, Hearing, and Balance Center in Columbia, Missouri. Caitlyn is interested in pediatrics and cochlear implants. Caitlyn currently serves on the SAA Board of Directors as the Secretary.
References and Resources
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