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Rejected of two rounds of applications and interviews for Counseling Practicum?

I am a master's student in Art therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy. Our program requires more than 750 hours and requires at least 500 of those hours to use art therapy with clients; the rest can be talk therapy. So, there are limited practicum sites that I can apply for. There are limited sites in my area. I am NOW at the point where I am applying to sites that are over a 75 minute driving commute (one way) time. I have gotten rejected twice after interviewing from 2 sites. My first round of applying, I applied to four sites and had two interviews. This round I have applied to 6 sites, and have had two interviews, with one more scheduled.
Many sites, filled their positions within a week, that I was not fast enough to even apply for. I am doing all of this work on top of my regular graduate work, work, while having disabilities.

I am feeling emotionally defeated and drained. If I can not get a practicum site, then I will not be able to graduate and become licensed. I am furious at the situation. I understand that COVID-19 caused many sites to close for supervision, and now the competition to find a site is very high. How are my less experienced classmates getting hired while I am not? But I am not the only one in this boat, one of my peers it took her three rounds of applying before she got a site, she felt it was partially due to age discrimination. I am wondering where I am going wrong? I am working closely with the practicum director and a career counselor. I did not have this problem when applying for regular jobs, and even the job I am currently at wants to promote me.

So what am I doing wrong? I am also working closely with a career coach and the practicum director. I have a website and a digital portfolio, which I have specially for practicum.

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Kim’s Answer

Sakura,

I think what you are doing "wrong" is letting this situation totally get to you! Take time to exercise, walk, enjoy nature, clear your head! Life is HARD. It doesn't get any easier. Coping skills are essential!

What would you say if a married couple walked in, and was having relationship problems, due to the husband's inability to find a job? The wife is criticizing him, and he feels like a failure, because, no matter how hard he tries, he just can't land a job? Counseling ourselves is one of the most difficult challenges. Keep your chin up! When you walk into an interview, remember that YOU are interviewing them too! You want to know that you are a good fit with their culture.

If you feel in any way that it is disability related, that's another issue. You can ask for assistance with their HR person. But, just because you are not selected does not mean it's discrimination.

The mock interview suggestion is a good one. You ARE getting interviews, so your resume is good. Could it be better? Perhaps. But I would focus on the interview skills. Personally, the only times I interview really-well is when I've decided I don't really care if I get the job or not. The stress is gone! If you are stressing, find techniques to calm yourself prior to the interview. You want to exude confidence - Own the room, without being arrogant. If there is small-talk prior to the interview, try to "connect" with the interviewers. You WILL get over this hurdle. It might mean making tough decisions you don't want to make, like a long commute, or, even moving. But, you will get there!!

Best of luck!
Kim
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Sukura !

I am sorry that you have experienced this challenge and I would like to give you some advice which I hope doesn't duplicate the places that you've already explored. It's good that you're working with your practicum director and career counselor. Maybe you can work out something with your practicum director to approve something at places you haven't tried yet.

I am leaving links to places for you to try in your Santa Rosa area that you may not have explored yet. I am not sure if it could be any site that would say yes or if you got a list of the only ones your program will approve, but that is what you'll need to work out with your practicum director. The need to find alternative sites would be important for you.

Have you tried the Adult Homes and Nursing Homes in Santa Rosa ? I have left a link below for a list of them. Have you tried senior community living sites ? I left a link for you below. I am trying to guess which sites you may not have tried yet. It's just a thought, but Santa Rosa Junior College has a disability department and you might be able to work with students that have a disability there. I think perhaps you may have tried all the hospitals already but I am leaving a link for you below just in case. It has a list of hospitals in Santa Rosa. I also left a link below for Santa Rosa Community Health. I apologize if you have tried all of these so far.

Try not to feel too bad about not being selected thus far from your interviews. Some agencies/companies interview with the idea to keep the persons' resume and interview notes on file for future positions. You may have interviewed just fine. At first, I thought it may be because you don't have your Masters as yet, but you said others were getting the practicums. Sometimes there are very many applicants and it's hard to make a choice. So it may not be about you, it may be about the employer's circumstances. Don't give up.

More suggestions on where to possibly find a practicum to fulfill your hours:

Santa Rosa Community Health - Mental Health https://srhealth.org/service/mental-health/
Santa Rosa Behavioral Healthcare Hospital - https://norcalbehavioral.com/santa-rosa-location/
Kaiser Behavioral Health - https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-california/santarosa/departments/psychiatry-adult/
Kinder Care Early Education and Daycare - https://www.kindercare.com/our-centers/santa-rosa/ca
Adult Day Care Programs - https://www.caring.com/senior-living/adult-day-care/california/santa-rosa
Kaleidoscope Day Program for Adults - https://www.caring.com/senior-living/adult-day-care/california/santa-rosa
Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers - https://startyourrecovery.org/treatment/rehab-centers/california/santa-rosa

I hope that these leads can be of help and are not duplicates of the places you've already tried. Whatever you do, be persistent and know that you can do this. I wish you all the best moving forward with this !

P.S. Do not hesitate to inquire at the HUD Housing Projects and Section 8 Buildings. You may have a lot of children to work with in the Housing Projects which would be great for the Art Therapy. Also go to any homeless shelters. I wish you success in finding a practicum !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

ADULT HOMES AND SENIOR NURSING HOMES - SANTA ROSA https://www.senioradvice.com/nursing-homes/santa-rosa-ca
SENIOR LIVING SITES https://www.aplaceformom.com/independent-living/california/santa-rosa
SANTA ROSA JUNIOR COLLEGE DISABILITY DEPARTMENT https://drd.santarosa.edu/
HOSPITALS IN SANTA ROSA https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=hospitals&find_loc=Santa+Rosa,+CA
SANTA ROSA COMMUNITY HEALTH - INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES CARE PROGRAM https://srhealth.org/service/other-services/intellectual-developmental-disabilities-care/
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Andrew’s Answer

Hello Sakura.

There could be several reasons.

- Check your resume and update for each job interview. Cater skills so that company sees a potential match and improve your chances.
Ask others in your field to provide suggestions or ways to make your resume stand out.

- During your interviews, do you notice any areas you can improve? Maybe you can do mock interviews with your career counselor to find areas where you can improve or make adjustments.

- Ask for feedback from previous interviews. Why were you not picked? Hopefully, the hiring manager/team can be honest why you were not picked.

- Stay positive even in the face of failure. If you come into an interview and have negative body language/tone, the interviewer may pick up on it and pick someone else.

- Try to reduce pressure on yourself. There will always be more interviews to do and not getting called back is not a sign that you are lacking as a candidate.

- Spend some time on reflection and ask what you could be doing differently rather than feeling defeated. The other candidates might be stronger in certain areas and you have no control over that.
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Amy’s Answer

Sakura,

It's clear from the interviews you're landing that your resume is impressive.

To make a stronger impact during your interviews, consider fine-tuning your approach. Practicing through mock interviews is a great strategy, especially with someone who can offer you honest, constructive feedback. Since you're already working with a career coach, why not request a mock interview session with them? Their feedback could be invaluable.

Alternatively, don't hesitate to contact the companies where you've interviewed to ask for their input. This could reveal specific areas for improvement and ways to distinguish yourself from other applicants. If their feedback is largely positive, use the opportunity to network and inquire about other job openings they might know of.

I understand that this process can be frustrating. Keeping a positive mindset might be challenging, but it's crucial not to let your frustration show during your interviews. Celebrate your successes, like securing interviews, which many people struggle to achieve. Now that you've mastered this step, it's time to refine your interviewing skills. Take the advice you receive to heart, practice it in mock interviews, and remember that the goal is to find the job that's the perfect fit for you, not just the first job you interview for.

Best of luck on your journey!
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Karin’s Answer

Hi Sakura,

First of all, I am really impressed that 50% of your application result in interviews! That means, you are a strong, competitive candidate!

Do you suspect it has anything to do with your disability that you didn't get an offer after the interviews? It doesn't have to be, but did you notice any change in their behavior? On the other hand, if they interview 3 people and they are all wonderful, you still only have a 33.3% chance to get the offer. If they interview 5 people, your chance is only 20%.

Normally, I would say if you are getting interviews you will get an offer sooner or later. And once you have one offer, others follow because you now can be very relaxed going into the next interviews, and it shows. But when there are so few options, it's really difficult.

I think you need to throw a wider net. Is the practicum normally done in one (or more) block(s) or in parallel to your studies? If it is a block, you could potentially go out of town for a few weeks/months to do it. If it's concurrent with your studies that won't be possible of course.

Are you networking? Do you know any people who could potentially offer a practicum. What about the previous cohort of art therapy students. Where did they do their practicums? Can they connect and recommend you?

Try to apply preemptively. Contact people who might be in a position to offer a practicum and catch them just the week before they would have advertised.

How about professional societies and conferences? Have you made any contacts there? Here is e.g. a link to the career center of the art therapy society:

https://arttherapy.org/career-center/

You can also connect with people on LinkedIn and advertise yourself as practicum seeking.

You also find some more links below.

I hope this help! Good luck!

KP

Karin recommends the following next steps:

https://www.chla.org/internship/expressive-arts-therapy-internship
https://www.bchcreativearts.org/bcharttherapyinternship-4-1
https://cfa.lmu.edu/programs/mft/beyondtheclassroom/thehelenblandgartenarttherapyclinic/practicum/
https://health.ucdavis.edu/children/services/child-life/child-life-training
https://www.dsh.ca.gov/Napa/Internships/index.html
Thank you comment icon I have talked to alumni and have applied to some of those sites. I appreciate you breaking down the percentages that helped me feel a little bit better. I did not think about preemptively applying. One of the sites I applied to, is technically one of those, so hopefully I get that one. No it has to be done at the same time as studies to ensure proper supervision. I am now seeing I have to apply to even more sites. There is one city where there are a lot of sites but the parking is bad and break-ins are high and none of those sites pay so the risk in that city in my opinion are not worth it. I am feeling stuck and the expectation for me to take out even more money so that I can do a free internship because I am forced to do a far commute is feeling beyond unfair. Sakura
Thank you comment icon Agree, it's not fair! You should at least be reimbursed for travel and parking. Karin P.
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