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Advice for Interns

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​​In their book The Successful Internship: Personal, Professional, and Civic Development M. King and H. Sweitzer discussed the Five Stages of Internship. Understanding that you will most likely progress through these stages will help prepare you for the feelings you will experience during your internship.        

  1. Anticipation: You are excited and perhaps nervous about beginning your internship. You have probably imagined positive and negative experiences and you have developed a set of expectations. Be careful of adhering to these expectations, as each intern's experience is different.          

  2. Disillusionment: Now that you have begun your internship, you are in the midst of serving clients or patients, juggling multiple projects, and trying to demonstrate your skill level. You might begin to question your abilities to perform well, build relationships, succeed in your chosen field, and learn from the internship. It is normal to go through this phase but you need to take an active role in order to exit it. It is important not to lose motivation in this stage. As you  progress, you will gain experience and these feelings will fade away.           

  3. Confrontation: The previous phase taught you what you need to improve in; the confrontation phase is when you focus on growing your skills, admit your uncertainties, think about others' perspectives and discuss with them if necessary, reassess your goals and expectations of this internship.           

  4. Competence: You have gained experience, become more confident, know your purpose, and refined your skills. You see yourself as part of the team or facility and feel you are making a positive, professional contribution.           

  5. Culmination: The internship is coming to a close; you reflect on what you have learned and the relationships you have built. Your caseload is transferred to someone else. This can be a sad time as well as a happy one, because it marks the completion of a career milestone.           

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  • Interns often identify with one of the following groups: the clients/patients, the co-workers, and the organization. They may put the needs of one group over the others, which can lead to interpersonal conflict and/or disobeying policies. Be careful to stick to the rules of the facility or business you are interning at but maintain friendly, professional relationships. Learning to achieve this balance will help you in your career and decrease stress.            

  • Clients/patients may try to test you because they are unsure of your role and responsibilities as an intern. Adhere to the policies of the organization and be consistent; this will also create a more trusting relationship, since the patients/clients know you stand by principles and keep your word.​​​