Studying speech-language pathology at the graduate level involves far more than just hitting the books and learning theory. SLP programs also require students to get real-world experience through internships, something Bailee Jackson, second-year graduate student at St. Cloud State University, is currently in the process of doing.
During the latest episode of The Missing Link for SLPs podcast, Bailee delved into the various ways these practical internships can benefit those pursuing speech careers. Not only will they help students learn the ropes of the field, but they might clarify what specific area of speech pathology an intern wants to work in post-graduation.
Of course, not every practicum goes as smoothly as Bailee’s has, but all graduate students can make the best of their internship experiences. If you’re looking for or starting a speech internship, here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of it.
Be Open With Your Supervisor
Every supervisor is different, but being open with yours from the get-go can kickstart a line of communication that will benefit you in the long run. This is exactly what Bailee did, emphasizing from the very start that she was open to any kind of feedback. She expressed what she was hoping to gain from her practicum, and she’s reaped positive results from that.
If you have specific goals or are hoping for honest opinions on where you can improve, following Bailee’s lead might be useful. At the very least, it will ensure you and your supervisor are on the same page from the very beginning. It could also strengthen your professional relationship with one another and enable you to improve your skills.
Make a Good First Impression
First impressions are everything, so make sure you’re showing up for yourself on the first day of your internship. This means getting there on time, being professionally dressed, and preparing yourself for just about anything. It also means being outright about your passion for the field and your willingness to learn.
View Mistakes as Learning Experiences
One takeaway from our conversation with Bailee was that SLPs at every level have bad sessions and bad days. Whether you’re interning for the first time or practicing after years in the field, you’re bound to have sessions that leave you feeling deflated afterward. The important thing is to view these as learning experiences rather than dwelling on them. Note where you could have improved and vow to try a different approach next time — then move on.
Put It in Perspective
Even if you feel your speech internship isn’t going so well, it’s important to look at the larger picture. Sure, 10 weeks can be a long time to remain in a role that you may not love, but it will serve as another learning experience. Getting practice working with speech patients will give students a clearer picture of what they do and don’t want in their future careers. Even a negative experience can push you closer to your dreams and goals.