So You’re Doing Phase II

I think I have been over this before, but in case I haven’t, I will recap. As the discrepancy between number of applicants and number of available internships increases, students are panicking. We are applying to a greater number of sites, and so sites are receiving double and even triple the number of applications they are used to. Blah, blah, blah, longer rank list, blah, blah, blah, computer, blah, blah, blah, math, and a higher number of sites are finding themselves with vacancies on match day.

APPIC’s website says that, unlike in Phase I, the number of interviews you have and the number of sites you rank has no impact on your chances of matching in Phase II. This does not make sense to me, and I have a theory that they are just saying that so they don’t have to run the numbers, but the point is that this information is not available.

Both years that I found myself filling out Phase II applications, I saw that sites that had denied me an interview in Phase I had post-match openings. It can feel awkward to re-apply to sites that have rejected you, but I absolutely recommend trying. Because sites are getting such a high volume of applications, they often deny qualified applicants simply because they cannot interview everyone. One site that I felt was an exceptional “fit” for what I wanted from an internship happened to have Phase II vacancies both years that I applied, and yes, between Phase I and Phase II, I applied to that site four times. I was rejected by that site three times. During Phase II this past year, they offered me an interview. (“And that, kids, is how you turn a no into a yes.”) I had to resist the urge to tell them that if they chose not to rank me, they could look forward to receiving my application again this fall.

Phase II is an incredibly condensed version of the application process. You have about a week to research sites, compile your materials, and submit applications. Then sites have about two weeks to conduct interviews. If possible, I strongly suggest trying to get a few days off of work, class, practicum, etc, since Phase II can become practically a full-time job. On the plus side, it is a much more affordable process. If you registered for a match number in Phase I, you can apply to as many sites as you want in Phase II with no application fee. I suggest taking advantage of this. When compiling your initial list of sites, you think about ruling out sites that don’t meet a specific list of training standards, but in Phase II I would recommend broadening this criteria. When looking at the list of openings, ask yourself, “Would I rather have ________ as my internship, or re-apply next fall?” Again, remember, it’s only for a year. I ended up matching at a site I hadn’t considered applying to in Phase II, and the more I learn about my placement the more I think this is the best place I could have ended up.

Regarding interviews, I have heard rumors that there are sites that request that you come in person during Phase II. My understanding was that APPIC does not allow them to require that you drop everything, buy a last-minute ticket, and fly out, but I have heard from others that some sites do ask for this.

It’s easy to get down on yourself for not matching. Hundreds of perfectly qualified applicants do not match every year. It’s most likely not a reflection on your skills as a clinician but a product of a bad situation that is beyond your control. As someone on the forums said, “What a great opportunity to practice my frustration tolerance!”

PS: Netflix added the Animorphs TV series to their line-up. If you are a product of the late 90s and early 2000s like I am, join me in my nostalgic self-care of the week. 🙂

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So It’s Match Day

I once got a fortune cookie that said “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” Terrible choice of fortune aside, this is a good mentality to have. Unfortunately, due to the match crisis, no one is guaranteed an internship. Every year hundreds of perfectly qualified, wonderful candidates just don’t match. After the interviews and hard work, the final phase of getting an internship comes down to luck. APPIC publishes more general statistics on how your number of rankings correlate with your odds of matching, but I know people who matched with one ranking, and I know people who had nine or more rankings who didn’t.

For all four match days that I waited anxiously for that notification email, I had two plans in place: One for good news, and one for bad news. I wrote myself a congratulatory and a consolation letter, and I had both at the ready on the morning of the match. The congratulatory letter was accompanied by a bottle of champagne that I bought before I started applying, which I had reserved for the day I got an internship. (Little did I know that I would be sitting on that bottle for about three years before I could open it.) The other letter came with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a nip-sized bottle of whisky.

You know yourself better than anyone, but you won’t know for sure how you will react on Match Day until it happens. On my first match, I was convinced I would be an inconsolable wreck if I didn’t get an internship. When the email came, I said “OK, I can work with this.” I kept waiting for the tears that never came – it just did not bother me as much as I thought it would. One year later, I assumed I would react similarly, and I ended up having a full-scale meltdown.

The day that I finally matched for internship, I was on a flight home from Spring Break with my partner. We played chess on the plane to keep my mind off of the knowledge that there was probably an email waiting for me when we landed. (I do not recommend this. My preference is to create a safe space for whatever news you receive and whatever reaction you will have. However, after two years I was feeling pretty hopeless, and it got increasingly difficult to rearrange my life around those dates.) I pulled up my email on an iPhone the second we got the okay from the flight attendant to use mobile devices.

When I saw the good news on the screen, I had to re-read it five times. I handed the phone to my partner and said, “Does this say what I think it says?” Then I started cheering. The other passengers gave me strange looks. I kept repeating “They’re going to let me graduate. I can’t believe they’re finally going to let me graduate.”

Next week I will talk about managing Phase II, then the Post-Match Vacancy Service, re-applying, and moving. For now I am in a clinical trial because this blog does not pay very well. Happy Independence Day to my American readers.