I often receive e-mails from Child Life students asking what I would recommend to make their application POP when up against others applying for a practicum/internship. This is a very valid question as you can imagine everyone your up against for the position also “loves kids” & is “very creative”. So, what are some things that you can add to your resume to stand out?
- Experience with Kids
We know you love kids (its a requirement for the job!), but show your program just how much. Hospitalized kids, kids in summer camps, babysitting, kids with special needs, tutoring, etc. By showing that you’ve worked with kids in a variety of settings you appear well rounded & it’s clear that you enjoy spending your time being around kids! Below are some of my favorite organizations that often are in need of volunteers:
- Be Involved with the Child Life Council
Becoming a member of the CLC will not only open a world of resources and information for you, but it will also show prospective hospitals that you’re serious about becoming a CCLS. Want to show them that you’re super serious about becoming a CCLS? Attend the Child Life Conference! Attending conference not only give you an opportunity to network, learn, and have fun in a new city, but it also looks very impressive on a resume. This shows interviewer that you’re passionate about Child Life, that you’re willing to learn about Child Life, and that you’ll be dedicated during your internship. Want to know more about what conference is like? Check out my post from the CLC conference 2014: https://adventuresinchildlife.com/2014/06/10/child-life-conference-recap/
- Start a Blog
Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I made in my journey to becoming a CCLS. Writing this blog gave me a reason to do research about the job, made me become aware of news and advancements happening in the field, network with other aspiring child life specialists, and now as a professional I use my blog as a portfolio of my work! Blogging about something shows that you’re truly interested in the topic and that you genuinely enjoy it. If you do decide to start a blog, let me know and I’ll give you a shout out! 🙂
- Recognize your Special Talents
There may be many special talents that you have that you don’t even consider special. Try and see things from a CCLS point of view and what they experience on a daily basis; do you have any skills that can relate?
- Great at public speaking? As a CCLS you’re often times asked to provide in-services for members of the multidisciplinary team. It’s GREAT if you don’t faint at just the thought of speaking in front of a crowd.
- Worked in retail during the dreadfully busy holiday season? Multitasking at a high-stress fast-paced job while having to maintain focus on customer service as well as the task at hand sounds a lot like Child Life to me!
- Speak another language? Having grown up speaking Spanish myself, I never thought this would be something I’d mention during an interview – it’s no big deal, especially here in Miami where everyone speaks Spanish. This is an invaluable skill when working in healthcare (or anywhere, really!) and you should definitely brag about it.
- Worked as a waitress/waiter or telemarketer during college? People skills are everything for Child Life. You need to know how to talk to children, yes, but you also need to know how to speak to their scared, angry, nervous, tearful parents.
- Take Pictures
It’s great to hear about how creative a candidate says she/he is, but it’s even better to see it! Take pictures (while abiding to HIPPA regulations) of the work you’ve done with children, medical play activities you’ve created, art work patient’s have made for you, etc. This will really make you stand out from other candidates.
During your experiences volunteering or during your practicum, keep a journal of special moments that you witnessed the CCLS have with a child or that you yourself had with a child! Before an interview I always like to go over my personal journal where I’ve jotted down special moments I’ve had with patients and their families. This is a great “refresher” for when interviewers ask those great “Tell me about a time when you…” questions.
- Trust me, if you don’t refresh on your experiences before an interview you’ll sit there trying to think of a special moment you had with a patient but all you’ll be able to think about is how much time you’ve been trying to think and how quiet everyone is & then you won’t even remember ever seeing a child before! Very awkward and a sure way to make you feel you “failed” the interview but it happens to the best of us!
- If keeping a journal isn’t your thing, then when preparing for an interview make sure and just take some time to recall on those experiences & jot a few down. This way they’re fresh in your memory & you can think without eyes staring at you.
Now this point I’m only adding because I am 4 courses away from getting my masters degree so research has become my middle name. I now enjoy reading research articles for fun! (who am I?) – All jokes aside, you really do learn a lot from reading research articles. Search articles about Child Life, pediatrics, distraction, siblings of hospitalized children, children’s perceptions of death, etc. Having this knowledge in your back pocket will really blow your interviewers away when you reply to a question with “Well, I actually read a research article about that which suggested…”
If you’re still in school, tailor your classes as much as possible to Child Life (for those of you like me, whose university does not have a Child Life major). Take classes like medical terminology, children with special needs, a survey of developmental disabilities, death and dying, psychology, ethics, hospital management, etc. Different universities offer a wide range of courses so when picking classes always keep an eye out for those course descriptions that relate to Child Life and/or the hospital setting in general. My favorite elective was “childhood around the world”!
- Be Creative
Being creative is something all child life specialists claim to be but no two are the same. Show your creativity when applying for your position whether it’s decorating your application folder with washi tape or including an extra letter of recommendation from a child you know. After sorting through mountains of manila envelope applications, finding creativity in one will definitely set you apart. DISCLAIMER: don’t get too carried away with creativity; you are still applying for a professional role so shoving confetti into your application might be too much. Ask a trusted friend or parent for advice if you’re not sure!