So You Got An Internship

I did it! I did it I did it I did it!!! Early Monday morning the email came through and confirmed that I was among the lucky few who matched in Phase II this year.

To anyone reading this who did not match, I feel your pain – I was in your shoes a year ago, and it felt terrible. Do whatever you need to to grieve, take care of yourself, and re-charge. I hope I can serve as evidence that the re-application process is not as fatal as it seems right now.

It’s a great feeling to know that the end is in sight, to look at my 2015 calendar and say, “On THIS date, I will have my doctorate.” It also feels good to have a set plan laid out for me for the next year. I remember scrambling for clinical jobs and hearing either that I was overqualified because of my masters, or that I was ineligible because I was not licensed at the masters level. Right now all I need to do is fill my time until September 1st, my first day as a Predoctoral Intern. Because most clinical positions are not looking for short-term employees anyway, I find myself flashing back to college as I apply for summer jobs in retail and manual labor. It will be a good way to decompress from everything that was graduate school, dissertation, and applications before plunging into internship.

Over the next several weeks I hope to impart some of my acquired “internship wisdom” into this blog, with posts about choosing where to apply, putting together applications, conducting interviews, and ranking. For now, to provide a visual aid for those of you who have not gone through this process, this is the average graduate student’s projected mentality over the course of the application process:

And now I am going to go home, put on my big underpants, and take a nap.

So You’ve Decided To Turn Off Your Phone

Earlier this week I found myself spending 24 hours in a town that had no cell reception. Completely by accident I turned off my phone and was unreachable by the outside world. In the moment it felt wonderful, not having to worry if I would hear it ring as my partner and I explored rural South Dakota. When I got back to “reality” I had missed 2 urgent emails and an important phone call, in the middle of spring break. A time when it is generally understood that people are less technologically available.

When you are in graduate school (and in several dozen other lines of work), there is no disconnecting from the real world without consequences. I’ve discussed the Self Care Paradox before – we are encouraged to take time for ourselves, but heaven forbid you are not prompt in getting back to someone. We have all read the hundreds of blogs and articles about this generation’s addiction on technology and addiction to email, smart phones, text messaging, et cetera. But can you really call it an addiction if it becomes a necessity in order to function in your environment? Is wearing clothing in public also an addiction?

While undergoing Phase II of the internship process, I responded to an email about an interview two hours after it was delivered to my inbox. I was told that only one interview spot remained, which conflicted with my schedule. Fortunately, I was able to make the time work through some creative juggling of responsibilities, but had I been more technologically dependent the ordeal could have been avoided. Another time, I received an email offering me a position proctoring an exam (income I badly needed at the time). I responded within an hour and was told that the job was given to someone else because I had taken too long to get back to them.

By attempting to maintain balance in my own life, I lose out on potential income and arguably cause myself even more stress by having to compensate for being “less dedicated” than my peers who have constant access to their email accounts. I would love to routinely “shut down” technologically, but at what cost? Many people do have this luxury, so maybe several instances of this so-called technology addiction is simply a misunderstanding of those of us who may be penalized for not being constantly available.

National No Internet Day is coming up. Will you shut down? If you do, what will you miss?

So You’ve Decided To Adopt A Pet

I am an animal person, especially furry animals that can cuddle you back. Research has shown that people who have pets are happier, healthier, and live longer, but that only justifies my already-existing obsession. During my junior and senior years in college, my roommates and I discussed – with varying degrees of seriousness – adopting a kitten. Unfortunately, pets were not allowed in our on-campus apartment, and we did not want to risk the fines, not to mention what would happen to the cat if we were caught.

As I was preparing to start graduate school, my first order of business (just after determining my financial aid eligibility) was adopting a cat of my own. I only viewed apartments that were pet-friendly and frequented petfinder.com for kittens that needed homes. I even had an appointment to meet with a vet about the last kitten in a found litter scheduled before I had begun the drive to my new home. Aside from wanting to do what I could for homeless animals (I’ll post another week about my decision to volunteer with the Humane Society), I felt that bringing a cat into my home would help manage my graduate school-related stress. Animals have always been a source of comfort to me, and none is more comforting than the pet that greets you at the door every day when you return home. That is how I decided to adopt Armani.

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My third day in Connecticut, I welcomed Armani into my apartment. It was a wonderful decision. I am now the proud caretaker of two cats, as my partner and I decided to adopt from the Humane Society together last year. I will share more about that in another post. Over the last three and a half years, he went from over-sized kitten to thirteen-and-a-half pounds of love. He is unbelievably playful but still curls up at my feet every night. The point is, Armani has gotten me through my program because, no matter how stressful my day is, he is always there to greet me when I come through the door (and about half the time he is watching for me from the window when I drive up).

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I have watched Armani grow up, and even though he can be a jerk sometimes (I once had to go to practicum with a scratch on my face because he aggressively decided that cuddle time was over), he is MY kitty and I love him! Nothing makes you forget that your dissertation chair just destroyed your most recent draft like seeing how high your giant tuxedo cat can jump for a catnip ball. For the record, he can go about seven feet straight up. I will try to get a video of it, because it is amazing.

My pets are my biggest form of self-care because they love me no matter what. If I’m running myself too hard, Armani will choose the perfect moment to fall asleep on my lap for an hour, and I have to slow down while he uses me as a human cat bed. Cats are zen, and they bring their humans into their zen. Good kitty!

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So You’ve Decided To Get A Roommate

Brief update from last week: I did manage to scramble and set up my Phase II applications, and I have gotten some responses from sites (both positive and negative). Right now I do not want to jinx the process and so I will be focusing on other aspects of the Graduate Experience for this blog. Hopefully I will soon have some good news, and at that time I will be more than happy to exhaust all of you with Tales of Internship.

For my fourth year of graduate school, I took the plunge and got a roommate. I realized I could afford a much nicer apartment if I were splitting the rent. (Right now I pay about the same rent for my half of an enormous two-bedroom, two-bathroom with study, fireplace, walk-in closet, and vaulted ceilings for what I was paying for what can only be described as a glorified closet. Possibly more on that at a later date.) However, I had been tolerating tiny, sub-par apartments because they seemed like the better alternative than having to share my space with another person. (I have had some less than ideal roommate experiences. There will not be more on that later for the sake of privacy.)

I met Katelyn at the start of my second year. She was about to enter the program and relocate to the area, and I was looking for someone to sublet my apartment because I had taken a job in Residential Life and had to move to campus. She ended up not subletting from me. Frankly my first grad school apartment was not in the most savory neighborhood. We stayed in touch and bonded over our mutual love of cats the fact that we have both lived in Minnesota. At the end of my third year, I wanted to stay in the same area for a job but did not want to stay in my closet of an apartment that reeked of the last tenant’s cigarettes and where management never fixed anything. Down the road was an infinitely nicer building – recently renovated, responsive, on-site maintenance, et cetera. The problem was, it was twice my current rent and only had two bedroom units. Katelyn had accepted a practicum in the neighborhood and was considering moving to my area (in our second and third years, we do practicum 3 days per week and class 2 days per week, so you can save a bundle on gas if you live closer to externship).

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Neither of us couldĀ afford the apartment we wanted individually, so we bit the bullet and moved in together. We have our differences – I tend to get up early, she tends to sleep in, I’m a neat freak, Katelyn isn’t – but we get along really well. I think it is largely because of our ingrown Minnesota nice-ness that makes us step back and consider the other’s feelings, and think twice before bringing up a minor issue (because really, is it the end of the world that it’s your roommate’s turn to take out the garbage and they want to do it in the morning and not right this second?). We also compromise – I get the bigger closet to cope with my trauma of the Tiny Apartment, and Katelyn gets the assigned parking spot right in front of the building. But I think the biggest key to our success in not killing each other is named Debbie.

I read a statistic somewhere that said that 75% of roommate arguments stem from disagreements about cleaning. “It’s your turn to vacuum!” “Why haven’t you washed your dishes yet?” and the like. We preempted these arguments by hiring a housekeeper to come by twice a month and clean up after both of us. We split the cost in half, and it ends up being very affordable.

So if you are thinking about defraying your school costs with a roommate, choose someone whose quirks you are familiar with and know you can tolerate, and who can tolerate your quirks. Also invest in a housekeeper. Trust me, it’s the best investment I have made. Oh, and if you have cats, get a unit with a fire place.

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Trust me.