Recently a reader reached ask out to ask if I had any suggestions for getting and staying organized through internship.
I do! I certainly wish I was more organized but I would love to share with you how I’ve stayed semi-organized over the last year while juggling internship, school, my graduate assistantship, and life.
1. Get an organizer you love and know you will use. There are tons of great ones out there. I found through my first year of graduate school that there wasn’t enough room for me in some of the smaller planners. For internship I went with a 8.5×11 sized one from Target. Some people in my cohort preferred the opposite and went with a pocket sized planner that they could easily carry with them. If you are more tech savvy then go with an online calendar. Use whatever one will work for you but USE it! Life will get super busy and some days your planner is the only thing that will help you know where you are supposed to be and at what time (or maybe that’s just me!).
2. Dropbox is your friend. I didn’t use any cloud storage before internship but now that I do I can’t imagine life without it. Dropbox allows me to easily access my files anywhere I am. If I was working on something at home for internship I don’t have to worry about putting it on a thumb drive or printing it out because I can easily access my files from school. I love dropbox so much I actually moved the majority of my school counseling related files (coursework, resources, ect.) over winter break. My classmates and I have also found that this is an awesome way to share resources since you can share specific files. Since we have shared our files I have gained many more resources that I can easily access. The key is putting things in folders and keeping them organized like you would a file cabinet. Using dropbox is pointless if you can’t find what you are looking for so clearly label your items. *If you click on the dropbox links above and decide to sign up it will give me extra space. Once you join you will be able to share and gain more space, as well.
3. Excel is also your friend. During practicum last year I tried tracking all of my hours by hand. This made things a little tricky because I sometimes made mistakes adding up my hours (what can I say. I wasn’t a math major). This year I switched to tracking my internship hours via Excel. I am not an Excel wizard and was lucky enough to be given a pre-made form to track with; however, I think even without the form it would be easy enough to create it. The first column is type of activity: Individual, Group, Classroom, Supervision, Consultation, Administrative, or Other. The second column is for direct time spent with students and the third column is for indirect time spent with students. These are calculated by .25 increments and up to 2 hours at a time. Column four is for the date. I only dated the first line item for that day to make it easier to see each day. The fifth and last column is for a brief description of activity. For me I note with initials who I met with since I have requirements of meeting with X number of students for X number of hours during internship. The form that was given to me totals the direct and indirect hours. At the bottom of an excel sheet there are tabs. Each tab is labeled “week 1,” “week 2,” ect.
Speaking of hours – plan ahead! For example, this year has been unique in the number of snow days the local school systems have had. Its late March and snow is still in the forecast! Because of this I stayed over Spring Break and worked several days at internship. I knew that there was snow in the forecast for the following week and I got an extra day off because of it. I was also able to enjoy the snow day because I knew I had covered the hours during break. Get your hours in early if possible. Being in schools exposes you to TONS of germs. Sickness is inevitable so try to build in some hours so you wont have to stress about it.
I also use excel to keep a running list of the students on my case load – it sometimes changes – and the dates I saw them. When I was in the high school I also noted what period I was pulling them from. I tried not to hit the same class all the time with students that I met with fairly regularly. I also noted on this excel sheet who I had permission slips to tape with as a reminder.
4. I have a notebook specifically for my internship site. At the beginning of the semester I am never sure what will end up in the notebook but I know it will get used. This semester I am in a middle school. I have a list of each grades schedule since they all vary, as well as the bell schedule for both a 1hr and 2hr delay. I have a list of the phone extensions for classrooms and offices in the school. I also have lists of students assigned to me by each of the counselors I work with. In Virginia we are mandated to complete Academic and Career Plans (ACP) with students so I also have my ACP list there. Typically I also have resources I have collected at that site, lesson plans, drafts of a newsletter, ect. Just anything and everything that is in paper form that I have gotten at or may need for internship lives in this binder. Andrea Burston shared on her blog how she made a counselor notebook, if you want to see another approach.
5. I like to sketch out my day when I arrive to internship. This was easier at the high school level than elementary and middle, but I still tried to do it. I do this in a small notebook that I keep in my internship bag. A counselor that I currently work with does something similar but in a word doc. She just starts fresh each day. Doing this helps me keep track of what I want to accomplish for the day.
6. Plan to take care of yourself. Internship has been an awesome experience, but with this experience I have also had some really hard days. Find things that you know will help lift your spirits when you feel like things were just way to heavy whether that is your cohort, friends from home, or your supervisor(s). Find a group of people who will lift you up when you think you are not doing enough or aren’t a good counselor. Everyone has bad days and as this new profession becomes a reality it can be overwhelming at times. The good news is the great, awesome, amazing days far outweigh the bad… but be prepared to help yourself when you do have a bad day.
What I wish I would have known…
6. Plan ahead. Something that I haven’t done enough of is planning ahead to the job hunt. I didn’t think enough about what future employers would want to see when I go into job interviews. Since it is currently job fair time, I would suggest going to one or two and chatting with school systems to see what they want from their applicants. I have found that some school systems are very data focused and want to see data when you interview. Others want to see how you have implemented ASCA into your internship experience. Other school systems want to hear more anecdotal experiences and what you have done in internship. Figure out where you want to apply and tailor your internship experience to make you the best job candidate possible.
Watch this video! Andrea Burston & Danielle Shultz give some great advice about grad school, internship, and job hunting. I watched it the summer before I started internship and found it really helpful.
Thanks for stopping by!