Applying for internships

Applying for internships

Alright, honestly I don’t even know where to start with this, so please hang in there.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the internship process, but it is hard! I really have to make a thoughtful effort to be in the moment and enjoy it.

I truly thought I was an organized person. In trying to keep almost 25 different hospital’s requirements straight, I realized I wasn’t as organized as I thought I was. Keep in mind there are MANY different ways to approach this process. This is just mine.

I started with a an excel spreadsheet and quickly realized that wasn’t going to work for me. I needed something physical I could touch and manipulate, I like to cross things off. So after getting some fantastic advice from other child lifers, I decided to make a binder.


My binder had a plastic folder pocket tab for each hospital. I first made a list of each hospital I was interested in. I think this list came to 50 hospitals. After researching each hospital the list got narrowed down to 40 hospitals, and by the end it went down to 30.

After researching each hospital I typed up a checklist for what that hospital required with the application, as well as any information I should know regarding the hospital. This went in the front pouch of my plastic dividers. As the process went along this gave me a place to put things for the application packet such as letters of rec, verification forms, CPR Certification copies, official/unofficial transcripts, etc.

This is the checklist I would type up for each hospital based on what it said on their website. I also included contact information for each hospital incase I had a question.

This is the checklist I would type up for each hospital based on what it said on their website. I also included contact information for each hospital incase I had a question.

The Common App

The common app is a bit difficult to fill out the way the PDF is designed. So I suggest uploading the document to It’s free and it makes it much easier to fill out the application.

This common app asks general information about you, your schooling and experience. You are also asked a couple of essay questions. You’re asked to keep these responses to 200ish words, so you have to be thorough, yet concise.

Towards the end of the application there are forms that you need other people to fill out. Any child-related experience needs to be verified using these forms. You will have to email these forms out and print copies for yourself.

When finalizing the common app, make sure you physically sign each copy, and utilize the checklist on the front page.

Letters of Rec

As you may or may not know most of the hospitals require 2-3 letters of recommendation and they must be sealed with the seal signed by the writer. These letters come in two forms: a typical written letter of recommendation and the common app recommendation form. Some hospitals require one type and some require both. It can be difficult to keep track of which hospital wants what. I highly recommend you contact each hospital and ask them what they would like.

With the envelopes sealed it is also difficult to know which type of letter is in there, is it the common app recommendation form or a letter of recommendation? To help myself with this I did end up creating a spreadsheet I could refer to. I also sent this to my recommenders so they could keep check them off as they went. They would also write the name of the hospital on the outside of the envelope or put a sticky note on the envelope.

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Other Items

  • Official or Unofficial transcripts. If the hospital requires official transcripts make sure you allow at least two weeks for them to get to you.

  • Supplemental Questions. Don’t forget to check and see if a hospital has supplemental essay questions that you need to include in your application.

  • Always verify a hospital is offering an internship. You never know if they’re going to need to take a break. This is how I went from 50-30 hospitals.

  • I highly recommend utilizing Jessica’s service, The Child Life Mentor. She will look over ANY and ALL internship documents including the common app, your resume, cover letter, and supplemental essay questions. She was an incredible support for me through this process.

  • Some hospitals require you to send the application via email. Check with them if you need to put all files into one PDF, Zip file, etc.

  • Some hospitals require a check to cover an internship fee.

  • I’ve seen some hospitals require UPS or Fed Ex over USPS. Theres a $2-$3 difference between UPS and USPS. To send out 23 applications it came out to be about $130.00 for me.

The most difficult part of this process for me was staying organized. As I am writing this, I am pretty sure I made a HUGE mistake and forgot to include some supplemental questions in one of my packets. Darn.

Now that I’ve sent everything out, it’s time for me to sit back, and hope for an interview and offer. This is a stressful process, but try to enjoy it. I know I did! You’ve worked hard to qualify for an internship. I feel like this process alone is a right of passage. Not everyone makes it this far but you have!

Let me know what tips or questions you have in the comments below!

The end of 2018 - Grad school update & my practicum at UC Davis

The end of 2018 - Grad school update & my practicum at UC Davis