Beginning the Journey Towards a Child Life Practicum
Applications, Resumes, Letters of Recommendation, Essay Questions…
Phew! Is this hard work or what? There just do not seem to be enough hours in a day to get all those applications completed and sent in! What I’ve learned from the application process is that it takes time. And a lot of it! So here is how I dealt with the the whole process…
4 Months before the [dreaded] application deadline(s):
- Create a folder on your computer and/or buy a binder you can keep all your practicum materials neatly organized in one place.
- I bought a binder and had a folder on my computer!
- Create a list of all the hospitals you are interested in applying to. This is your first round so keep your list a little bigger than what you think. Look at hospitals that are out of state — don’t be scared! Also, I did this in an Excel spreadsheet because I found it way easier to copy & paste 🙂 Writing them out in a hand-made chart would be awesome too!
- Print your sheet out (if you typed it) and color code all the hospitals in your list into 2 colors! Why, you ask? Because now you are narrowing down your choices to the hospitals you are going to actually apply to.
- Print off all the hospital’s practicum applications and sort according to their respective deadlines. (Granted, printing all of them off can be pricey if you’re doing this at home. If this is the case, create/handwrite a new list that outlines the applications that are due first). You’ll have to print them all out eventually, so keep that in mind too! You are probably going to have multiple applications due the same day as most hospitals follow the ACLP (Association of Child Life Professionals) deadlines. Sort those applications according to which one you want the most out of them all!
3 Months before the [information overload!] application deadline(s):
- Begin completing the applications from your list. To clarify, just start with the basics! Complete all the areas EXCEPT for the essay questions. This sounds crazy, but trust me, it helped me feel like I was getting a head start without overwhelming myself.
- RESUME. RESUME. RESUME. Add your personal flair to the document. I also cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you have no spelling errors and that you have your resume up-to-date! Another thing to make sure is that you have contacted all your previous managers and have checked in with them to make sure that it is okay if the hospitals contact them with any questions. (This is not asking them for a reference or recommendation; you are just clarifying that it is okay to list their contact information on your resume and it is okay for the hospital to contact them).
- Cover letter time! Some hospitals do not require this. BUT DO IT ANYWAYS! A cover letter informs the hospital briefly about your experience and why you are the best fit for the child life practicum! Don’t delay on getting this started, and get it proof-read by a family member or friend. Another great resource is to bring both your cover letter and resume to your school’s career center!
- Buy materials. Now, it is not required that you print your resume and cover letter on resume paper. However, doing this adds a touch of professionalism that will impress them. So just do this too! 😉
- Resume paper – I found some inexpensive paper at Walmart.
- 9×12 manilla envelopes – I bought the white kind that had a removable sticker. You can also buy the yellow kind that have a metal clip thing on the back! Whatever you prefer!
- Clear address labels – I have heard that instead of writing the hospital address on the folder, that some have bought clear labels and had the addresses typed up. Why not go that extra mile to impress them just a tad more even BEFORE they have opened your application? [who woulda thunk].
2 Months before the [starting to panic] application deadline(s):
- Pat yourself on the back for getting this far!
- Request your official transcripts from your college/university. Some hospitals only require unofficial, so sometimes you can print them off on your own! Personally, I always provided official transcripts.
- Request your Letters of Recommendation! This is a huge step to overcome, but don’t be frightened of it. Most people are very willing and ready to provide letters for you! Requesting them 2 months in advance gives them ample time to get them ready for you. Also, make sure you pay attention to the hospitals that require academic or professional as well as signed and sealed or not!
- Complete the hardest part: the essay questions. Once you get 1 or 2 applications completed, you’ll find similarly worded questions on most applications. To save you some time, use your answers on multiple applications, but add a few different twists and turns by adding a few sentences or taking some out. You don’t need to make drastic changes, but add the extra touch that shows you researched the services they provide and incorporate those in your answers when you can! Also, I had my boyfriend proof-read these, and he enjoyed correcting any mistakes and learning more about me. It was nice to have a loved one helping me out! I highly recommend including family and friends as much as possible. Makes the process more enjoyable!
1 Month before [you’re so close] application deadline(s):
- Begin creating your portfolios for each hospital. This requires many steps, so I will lay them all out below:
- Gather letters of recommendation for each hospital.
- Print off cover letters and resumes for each hospital.
- Gather official or unofficial transcripts for each hospital.
- Print off the application essay questions for each hospital.
- Print off practicum applications for each hospital.
- Now that you have gathered all your extra materials, add them with their respective hospital applications and put them into your manilla envelopes! I always placed my cover letter on top and then followed how the hospitals wanted them sorted after that. If they don’t specify, then sort your documents how you like!
- MAIL THOSE SUCKERS OUT! You finished them all and everything is ready to be mailed. Try to get everything completed with a week left. That way you are not driving to the post office in an unsafe manner! 🙂
Best of luck to you all on your applying process! Again, the way you get your applications completed may be totally different than mine, but this way allowed for a more stress-free experience.