Sunday, September 24, 2006
Internship Applications = Sudden Death
I've once again embarked upon the internship application process. This is my last time trying, for a number of reasons... some because if I don't get placed next year then it would require special circumstances to allow me to delay completion of my doctorate, because the rulebook says everything - including dissertation and internship - needs to be completed within 7 years of enrollment, which would be 2008. And more because I just don't think I can do this to myself again. Words fail to describe the level of anxiety, nausea, self-doubt, frustration and headache that the mere thought of doing this again creates.

For background - I applied once, in 2004, and went on several interviews... and then decided, somewhat last-minute, that given our plans to move across the state and send Willem back to school and Emily starting kindergarten and Jacob not being a year old yet, it was all too much to add me going back to work more-than-full-time. So rather than risk damaging my family life, I backed out then - sent nicely worded, grateful-for-the-opportunity letters to each of the sites I was considering, and focused on my family for a year. Which was good in the moment, but turns out to be professional suicide.

Because then in 2005, I applied again, and not only did I not get a placement... I didn't even get any interviews. I was straightforward and honest in each of my essays, explaining why I had taken the year off and why that year off was going to make me both a better mother and a better intern when I did return, yada yada... and therein I made my second professional suicide gesture. Never be honest with them about family, they don't care about work-life balance and mental health. It's only psychology, after all, no reason to expect some human-ness to the process.

Sigh. So this past spring I was universally rejected and went into a deep dark depression for a very long time... I really have only felt consistently better in the last month or two. I had to work through the idea that I might never get my dream job, or even anything in the neighborhood of it. That I had racked up well into the 6-digits of student loan debt which would have been okay if I had gotten the doctorate and would get a job that paid enough to cover the loans, but now that might not ever happen. That I was rejectable - me, who had never NOT gotten what I set my mind on ever in my life. I'm someone who finished a 5-course semester of my master's degree a month after giving birth, with three of my final papers typed one-handed while breastfeeding. I was back at work 4 days after an appendectomy because I didn't want to hand off teaching my class to a substitute that early. I've worked through migraines, back pain, uphill both ways, through snow this deep, and so on, and so forth. A combination of luck and hard work got me what I wanted, always, before - and so I was absolutely clueless as to how to deal with rejection when it happened. It was just baffling and scary and overwhelming, and I didn't cope very well.

Which brings us to the present. I've finally worked through all that, accepted inevitable money problems due to student loans, realized that I can still find self-worth and enjoyment of life even without the profession I'd been working toward for a decade, and generally crawled out of that deep, dark place. So, by all means, let's risk another slide down in there by sending out a new round of applications!

And, by the way, let's pause and reflect on just how long and drawn-out this process is... I started gathering application materials and so on in September, with hopes of having it all in the mail by mid-October. Then I wait. In December I will be notified about whether I got any interviews at all out of the roughly 15 sites I'll apply to. Then in January the interviews will actually happen. Then I wait. The last Friday in February, I'll find out *whether* I got placed, and the following Monday I'll find out where, if I did. Ugggggghhhhhh.

Remind me again, why is it that alcoholism is a bad idea? Because it's starting to seem like a reasonable coping skill right about now.

But I wouldn't be me if I didn't try one more time. So I'll write the 30-page application and send out copies to everyplace within reasonable - and some unreasonable - driving distance. I'll put my heart and soul into it, though no I will NOT be honest this time, about my true life and priorities. And if I get rejected again, then I'll know that it's for-real, and forever, and I'll cope. Somehow.

Though I did get a sign directly from the Internship Gods this morning that perhaps I shouldn't apply at all... when I was gathering some papers to start work this morning, I had to go out into the breezeway to dump off last year's application shtuff, and there were three enormous bees in the breezeway. Bees, which I am deathly allergic to. My heart is still pounding, two hours later. So, clearly, that was a sign that if I work on the internship application, it will mean certain and sudden death... right?

Guess I have to risk it anyway.