Spoiler alert: There is no magic number of places you should apply to for practicum and internship. Generally, the more you apply the better your chances are of getting interviews. But, that doesn’t mean you should apply to 53 hospitals all over the country. It’s really important to be thoughtful about where you are applying.
Generally speaking, I recommend applying to between 25-35 sites if you are able to. Not everyone is able to pick up and move across the country for their internship. Every round, I have a student who is messaging me and worrying about finding housing in their new city after accepting an internship. It’s important to be very realistic when applying for practicums and internships.
2 Important logistical things to consider when determining where to apply:
Affiliation is important because that is something that determines whether you are even eligible to be a student at that hospital site. If a hospital requires affiliation with a university, you cannot apply as an independent student. This is based on the decision of the legal department of the hospital, not the child life department.
Location, location, location. An internship is really hard and, of course, unpaid. Do you have family or friends that live nearby and would let you stay with them? Do you have any sort of support system nearby? I say it all the time, Hawaii seems like a cool place for an internship, but can also be extremely isolating and expensive! Maybe you want to live somewhere where family and friends will visit?
Other things to consider:
- Educational Environment: Does the hospital help you meet your career goals? Why or why not?
- Program size: Does this matter to you? Maybe you volunteer in a small community hospital, but you want to learn more about large child life teams, then you might consider applying to a large hospital.
- The more sites you apply to, the less time and attention you can give to the application materials. If hospital sites need additional materials or essay questions, you might find yourself stretched very thin if you are applying to way too many places.
In this era of child life education, there are so many applicants each round. Be intentional and self-reflective about your application process, don’t just create a list of boxes to check, create a list of places that are realistic for you and help you meet your academic, professional, and personal goals.