[For Students] My Journey to a Child Life Internship

December 4, 2023

[For Students] My Journey to a Child Life Internship

This week on the blog we are welcoming a guest blogger! She is an aspiring child life student who just secured an internship. Read more about her experiences with mentorship and the application process. As a student pursuing the field of child life, you know the stress and anxiety that comes with securing a coveted […]

This week on the blog we are welcoming a guest blogger! She is an aspiring child life student who just secured an internship. Read more about her experiences with mentorship and the application process.

As a student pursuing the field of child life, you know the stress and anxiety that comes with securing a coveted child life internship. It takes dedication, hard work, and anticipation. After countless hours of coursework, volunteer experiences, and volunteering hoping to make a difference in the lives of children and families during their hospital stays, the prospect of an internship is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Will all the time you put in result in the desired outcome? Will being a first time applicant set me up for failure? Today, I want to share my perspective on applying for a child life internship and experiencing the whirlwind of emotions during “Offer Week.”

The Application Process

Applying for a child life internship is a meticulous process, akin to putting together a puzzle with many unique pieces. First, you need to meet the prerequisites, which include specific coursework, within health care and outside of healthcare volunteer or work hours, a practicum if possible, and then obtaining eligibility to apply for the internship. The ACLP has this all laid out for you here. Once these prerequisites are met, and your eligibility assessment has been completed, it’s time to begin the application process. I applied for the spring internship round, and started the application in early August, and it was due September 7th. 

For me, the application process was a culmination of hard work and self-reflection. I poured my heart into highlighting my relevant experiences on the common application, and answering the questions hoping to express my experiences, highlight my passion for working with children, and portray my commitment to the child life profession. Even after doing this, I did not feel 100% confident with my application, and this is when I decided to schedule a meeting with Lauren.

The Application Review

Child Life On Call offers application reviews with a CCLS offering tailored feedback on application materials to make necessary revisions and increase your chances of being accepted into an internship program. The Child Life Internship is extremely competitive these days, and gaining feedback from a professional was a pivotal moment in my application process.

Before the meeting I sent Lauren, a CCLS qualified in this area, my common application question answers , as well as my experience descriptions. She was able to look over them ahead of time and make comments so that when the time came for our meeting the hour we had together could be used to walk through those suggestions, ask questions, and workshop. She went over all materials with me, and helped me identify specific strengths or moments to include in my application, make the most of my word limit, frame certain stories with the best wording, and overall make me feel genuinely confident with the application I was submitting.

She also made herself available to me via email for any other questions or concerns I had, making me feel supported and encouraged navigating the application process. I went from feeling “meh” about my application to feeling rock-solid and as though it showed my strengths and made me a competitive applicant. Due to how helpful Lauren was, I told myself if I was lucky enough to receive an interview, I was going to schedule an interview prep session as well.  

Click here to check out Child Life On Call’s services.

The Waiting Game

With the application submitted, all that was left to do was wait. This period of anticipation was both exciting and nerve-wracking. I couldn’t help but constantly check my email for any updates from the internship sites I had applied to. Every notification had me holding my breath, hoping for an interview invitation. I definitely had strong moments of doubt and emotions getting the best of me, but also moments of hope and dreaming of the future. I focused on my why and reminded myself of all the hard work I had put in to get where I was, and that that alone was something to be proud of. I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and family that were there for me when I began to doubt myself. I found staying busy, focused on school and work, and doing things that made me happy helped the time pass. 

The Mock Interview

When I got the thrilling email that I was invited to a first round interview at my top internship site prospect, I immediately went back to Child Life On Call to schedule a mock interview. Child life students know that preparation is a huge benefit to children, so why would it not benefit us as well? In hopes of preparing the best I could, I scheduled the interview with AJ, and am so grateful I did because I truly would not have been able to earn an internship without her support and advice.

She helped me know what types of questions may be asked, and not just how to answer specific ones, but strategies for answering them. As a CCLS, AJ knew how to provide specific feedback and discussed my experiences with me, probing me to add theory into my answers.  AJ also recorded our whole zoom so that I could rewatch it multiple times listening to her feedback, and my strengths and weaknesses. I ended up covering my wall in sticky notes of her feedback so that I would see it everyday! More than anything, she gave me confidence in my interview skills for such a specific type of interview.

Click here to book an appointment with Lauren or AJ.

The Interviews

When the moment arrived and I received an interview invitation, I felt a surge of excitement mixed with anxiety. The interviews were a chance to showcase my personality, skills, and dedication. It was a surreal experience talking with child life specialists who shared my passion and were eager to learn more about me. The hospital site I interviewed with had two rounds, a short interview with many applicants, and then a select handful invited back for MMI’s, multiple mini interviews. 

The first interview day was filled with a whirlwind of emotions. It was a short interview with a few questions and after I finished, I was convinced that was it. I did not feel good about my answers and began to spiral. However, we are our own toughest critics and I wound up being invited back for the final rounds. I also believe spending over a year volunteering at that hospital helped me as they knew my work ethic and commitment to their team. I would strongly advise everyone to volunteer at their local children’s hospital, in the child life department if possible, and apply there for your internship. Making connections cannot hurt! I believe this was one factor in my success. 

 The day involved multiple interviews, a tour of the hospital, and the opportunity to interact with current interns and staff members. This was the time to ask questions and get a sense of the child life department’s culture.

Offer Week

For students like me who are pursuing a career in child life, one of the most thrilling and pivotal moments is the Child Life Internship Offer Week. It’s a week filled with anticipation, hope, and, for some, the realization of a lifelong dream. It’s the time when you hope and pray for that coveted internship offer. I vividly remember the mix of emotions during Offer Week – excitement, anticipation, and nervousness. It felt like a rollercoaster ride where each day was a different adventure. The uncertainty can be overwhelming. Did I make a good impression during the interview? Will my dream hospital choose me? These questions occupied my mind.

I knew my hospital was planning to make a call at 11:00 am so I sat with my roommate next to my phone. 11:00 am came, no call. 11:05 nothing. 11:07, and I began to lose hope. 11:10 rolled around and my phone rang! When the offer finally arrived, the feeling was indescribable. After the hard work, dedication, and countless hours spent preparing, receiving that offer was a moment of pure joy and relief. It was also a validation and assurance that my chosen career path was in reach.

Child Life Internship Offer Week isn’t just about the offers and rejections; it’s also an opportunity for self-reflection and growth. 

  • If you receive an offer, it’s a testament to your dedication and persistence. It’s a reminder that hard work pays off.
  • If you face rejection, remember that it’s a part of the journey. Use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep your eyes on the ultimate goal. Submitting an application is a big step and you have a lot to be proud of. Getting an internship does not determine your worth or future success. 
  • Lean on your support system during this week. Share your anxieties and joys with friends and family who have been by your side throughout this journey.

The journey of applying for a child life internship and experiencing Offer Week is an emotionally charged one. It’s a few months of growth filled with self-discovery, hope, elation, disappointment, and the fulfillment of a dream. The excitement of receiving that offer letter makes all the hard work worthwhile, and it signifies the beginning of a new chapter in one’s journey toward becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist. Whether you receive an offer or not, the journey to becoming a child life specialist is a remarkable and fulfilling one. For me, it was validation that I chose the right path and a celebration of the bright future ahead of me in the world of child life. Remember that each step brings you closer to making a positive impact on the lives of children and their families.


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