As if the crushing disappointment of Phases I and II was not enough for you, sites with different fiscal calendars have been able to add more intern spots throughout the summer. I would argue that this is probably the most stressful phase of the application process, in that you are engaging in what is basically a free-for-all of openings, applications, interviews, and offers. When I did the Post-Match Vacancy Service during my first application cycle, I was also starting a job and moving forward with the next year of my life. To be honest, I was almost relieved when sites either rejected me or failed to respond to my application all together, because it meant not having to pay the $2500 fee to break my lease, leaving my roommate high and dry, and quitting my position almost immediately after starting. Not to mention the possibility of moving across the country with as little as one week’s notice (this has happened in the PMVS. Sites will sometimes get approved for more interns in mid-June but want a July 1 start date). Then again, if it weren’t going to involve an inhumane amount of stress, it would not be graduate school.
That being said, I do wish I had been more aggressive in applying to post-match openings. For one thing, I might be finishing up my internship in the next few months rather than starting. For another, the cost of relocating on such short notice is probably about equal to what I had to pay to re-apply.
If you do choose to use this service, your best bet is to be quick and thorough. Many openings are first come, first serve with applications and do not set specific deadlines, and so if you choose to take the weekend to polish your cover letter, that position could be filled by Monday morning. Also, if you happen to have a connection at a site, PMVS is the time to use it. Sites are looking to fill positions quickly, and if someone can recommend a good fit, they will jump at the opportunity to at least offer you an interview. Does a site have a history of taking students from your program? Did a former supervisor work at a particular site? Do you have a classmate who matched there and might be able to put in a good word? I have heard of at least four people getting placed in the PMVS at sites that never submitted the opening to APPIC. At this point in the game, it is more about who you know than what you know.
Finally, keep in mind that not everyone uses this service. Many people are not in a position to drop everything, even if it is for an internship, on the kind of notice they often get in this service. When I was considering sites, I assumed I would be up against the 600 or so other unmatched students. But this year, I have been privy to some inside information at a couple of sites and was surprised to see how few applications are submitted. One APA-accredited site in a popular part of the country received only four applications for their opening. (Granted, this could be an anomaly – I was not able to get information about how many applicants they have gotten in previous years when they have used this service.) Compared to the up to 500 applications some sites get in Phase I, how can you not apply with those odds? And as with Phase II, there is no application fee. You are merely submitting materials you have already compiled. Why not go for it?
I have followed the PMVS for the past three years – once for my own research, then because I needed an internship, and now in solidarity with my friends who were left unmatched. I’ve noticed that the number of post-match openings, especially APA accredited post-match openings, seems to be increasing. It is becoming more and more possible to get an internship outside of the typical match process.
Next week I will tackle the dreaded process of re-applying. Have a great weekend, everyone!