“What motivates you?” This question is often asked during an externship interview and can be daunting. Students’ motivations may change depending on a variety of factors including where they are in their graduate education, and the pandemic has created new challenges that have ultimately made staying focused in school increasingly difficult. More than ever, audiology students need to be self-motivated as they continue to navigate virtual schooling. Having classes and clinic virtually can be challenging to manage. In addition, second- and third-year AuD students are preparing for externship interviews. Audiology students have shown they can rise above the challenges of COVID-19 and make the most of their education. However, motivating oneself can be hard when we no longer interact with people face-to-face as often. This post serves to provide tips on staying motivated and strengthening your interview skills during the externship process.
- Find An Accountability Buddy
Whether it’s a friend or a classmate, find another person to keep you on track. You can do this by setting up a Zoom call with a friend and encouraging each other to get work done during the entire session, or planning a time to celebrate after you both have finished a set of tasks. Having someone to coach and cheer you on will help you concentrate and better direct your energy to complete the task at hand.
- Set Personal Goals
These can be daily goals, such as completing an assignment or spending an hour studying, or longer-term goals, such as researching the latest hearing aid technology. Even if you are not a goal-oriented learner, having a checklist to keep you organized throughout the week can help you stay focused and prioritize your work.
- Plan Out Your Time
Set aside time blocks to get your work done. Doing things in smaller chunks is a great way to motivate yourself to get things accomplished. Work on an assignment for 45 minutes, then take a break and reward yourself for getting it done. You will feel better once you have gotten things accomplished!
- Discover Excitement in Your Learning
Find the things that interest you in your classes and direct that energy towards your learning. If you’re excited about the information or a specific topic presented in class, you’ll be more driven to study and master the material!
- Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, make time for activities that benefit your mental health. Letting your mind and body rest is integral to your success as a student. Take time to go on a walk, catch up with friends and family over a phone call, or get that extra needed sleep. Once you recharge, you’ll find that you are even more motivated to take on the activities of the day.
- Do Your Research
Conduct research on the facility and the people interviewing you. Write down your shared clinical interests and try to engage them with your knowledge. Focus on asking the bigger picture and reserve smaller, less important questions for current externs if you have the opportunity to speak with them. Some sites may extend an opportunity to visit their clinic and, if you feel safe to do so, go for it! Putting yourself in the facility’s environment gives you a great idea of what that clinic is all about and how they operate.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice answering possible questions before the interview. Write down your responses and rehearse them. After preparing your questions, conduct a mock interview. Find a friend or a family member, or reach out to career services at your university. Try to schedule the mock interview with someone who doesn’t know you personally. You know audiology, so prepare for soft-skill related questions and conveying your answers concisely. Also, practice smiling! Even when you are on a phone call, interviewers can often infer from your voice if you’re smiling.
- Be Prepared
If you have a virtual interview, set up your computer at least 10-15 minutes early. Ensure that your internet connection is stable, your webcam is in a good position, and the audio is working properly. Face a window if you can to allow natural lighting to highlight your face. During the interview, make eye contact with the camera instead of looking at yourself on the screen. Free your space from distractions and have a notebook ready to jot information down. It’s a great idea to have your phone on hand (on silent, of course!) in case you have connectivity problems. You can use your phone as a personal hotspot for a stable connection or ask to continue your interview on the phone. Be prepared, as technology issues may arise.
- Keep it Professional
An interview is not the time to stand out with your dress or makeup! Stay neutral and polished. Recommended attire includes black or gray suits, solid-colored shirts, sensible and comfortable shoes, minimal jewelry, and hair pulled off of your face. Even though most of your interviews may be virtual, dressing professionally will put you in the right mindset.
- Be Confident in Yourself
Execute the interviews with the confidence of someone who already has the job! Go into it with the mindset that you are the best person for the position, and don’t be afraid to tell them. Be prepared with examples that demonstrate why you are the most qualified candidate. Confidence is essential, but also make sure to be yourself. Ultimately, you want to accept an externship where you fit in, so you want to find the right balance between the clinical experiences offered at the site with the audiologists’ personalities who will be precepting you for an entire year. Remember, they’re interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing them.
- Send a Thank You
Remember to formally thank your interviewers by sending a short email or even a ‘thank you’ card. This gesture speaks highly of your professionalism and it also emphasizes your gratitude for the time they dedicated to you. Most externship preceptors are not paid to take on a student, so it’s important to acknowledge that you value their time. Keep the ‘thank you’ simple and concise!
Stay tuned for more tips in this externship blog series about things you can do during quarantine to get ready for your externship year!
Sarah Pupa is a fourth-year AuD student at the University of Pittsburgh who is completing her externship at Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat of Atlanta (PENTA). She is currently serving as the Externship Subcommittee Co-Chair on the SAA Education Committee and as the liaison to the Academy’s Research Initiatives Council. Her clinical and research interests include working with children with complicated illnesses and special needs, interdisciplinary care, and increasing the accessibility and visibility of audiology services.
Brandon Roppel is a second-year AuD student at Northwestern University. He currently serves on the Externship Subcommittee within the SAA Education Committee. Additionally, he serves as the Student Representative for the Educational Audiology Association. His current clinical interests include aural re/habilitation, cochlear implants, and educational audiology.
Sam Sekator is a fourth-year AuD student at Vanderbilt University who is completing her externship at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, California. She currently serves on the Externship Subcommittee within the SAA Education Committee. Her current clinical and research interests include working with individuals with hearing loss and additional disabilities, cochlear implants, and vestibular sciences.
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