Students Say: Relief From Externship Anxiety
Finding the right externship or clinical fellowship doesn’t have to be a daunting task. A recent graduate offers pointers for a successful search.
I am only too familiar with the stress and uncertainty of
landing an externship, having recently gone through the process as an AuD
student. Planning and preparing for the strict timeline of interviews, and
knowing what to look for in potential sites can make this a better experience.
Allow me to share several suggestions for those of you about to start your
An externship is best approached as the last time you will
get one-on-one supervision to refine your skills. In the case of audiology,
unless you've already decided which area will be your career focus, you want an
externship that gives you experience in as many aspects as possible. This
variety will help you decide on an area to work in and give you experience
needed to apply and interview for positions. Many of the tips and websites I
share here also apply to newly graduated speech-language pathologists searching
for a clinical fellowship.
Nailing the interview
Interview preparation should include mock interview
questions and actual practice scenarios. Many resources are available online,
but navigating them can be a challenge in itself. Here are some websites I
- ASHA and the American Academy of Audiology provide a broad
overview on how to prepare for an interview.
- For links to sites with lists of tips and articles on
interviewing, visit About.com. You'll find potential interview
questions with a "best answer" for each of them—a good way to self test your
- Behavioral interviews—in which employers ask how you handled
specific situations in the past to determine if you have the skills they are
looking for—are also very popular.
You are also interviewing them
Applying and interviewing for externships is similar to
doing so for graduate school. You seek an externship site that will give you an
excellent education so you may confidently apply for jobs. Keep the following
- Learn exactly what your schedule will look like. A site may
offer a variety of services with a range of populations, which would give you
expertise in many areas. But make sure this broad exposure is available in your
externship. You don't want to be limited.
- Ask about your qualifications at the end of your externship.
For instance, if you want to get a job working with cochlear implants right out
of school, make sure you will have sufficient opportunities to become competent
in that field.
- Be realistic. If a site promises too much, it's too good to
be true. No one graduates with complete competence in every area of audiology.
If your site promises that, make them get real and tell you what to expect.
- Know what level of supervision you will have—and be
specific. Will you be 100 percent supervised and gradually taper off, or will
you go from 100 percent to 0 percent in a matter of weeks?
- Make sure the site is interested in your education and in
making you a good audiologist. They shouldn't treat you as a full-time,
independent audiologist with your own schedule and little to no supervision.
(You'll get there eventually, but you can't start there.)
Good luck with your site search and interviews!