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Internship Application Survival Guide

By Gaby Ritter, MusicWorx Intern
Edited by Theresa Kwong, Communications Consultant

So, you’ve completed or are close to completing all of your music therapy coursework… Congratulations! The final step before preparing for and PASSING that MT-BC exam is completing a rigorous, 1200 hour clinical internship! You may feel excited, nervous, overwhelmed, elated, or a combination of everything at once! I’m here to help guide you through the steps of finding and applying for internships. This is based on my personal process, so pick and choose what works best for you!

What Kinds of Internships Are There? 

There are two main ways to secure a qualifying music therapy internship. The first option is to go to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) website and explore their national roster of acceptable internships (found here: https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=amta2&WebCode=OrgSearch). If you find and secure an internship through this list, it will automatically count towards your required clinical internship hours. 

The other option is securing a university-affiliated internship. These internships are not included on the national roster. Rather, they are special relationships individual schools and programs form to allow for your continuing clinical education. You can ask your program director to see if there are any preexisting affiliations, or you can conduct your own research and then connect an internship director with your school to assess a potential partnership. While this second approach may take a bit more navigating on your part, university affiliations can vastly expand your internship options! 

How do I keep track of my options? Two Words: Get Organized.

When I began my internship search, I knew I wanted some kind of organizational tool to aid in the overwhelming process. I decided a spreadsheet would be the most helpful for me. While it’s easy to approach the internship search thinking, “how can I become exactly the person the internship director wants?” I recommend beginning the process with a shift in mindset. Think instead, “what do I want in an internship?” Whatever comes to mind should be the building blocks of your own spreadsheet. I included an example of what I used, but please know you can and should customize your own spreadsheet based on your wants and needs. While the options are endless, it’s crucial to find an organizational system to best set yourself up for success.

Title of Company Where is it located? Housing or Stipend? Link to Website: Link to Intern Application: Application Due Date: Notes/Populations
MusicWorx Inc. San Diego, CA No https://musicworxinc.com/ https://musicworxinc.com/clinical-internships/

(not currently accepting applications)

00/00/0000 Numerous sites and populations

Multiple supervisors

First 3 months outlined, last 3 = more independence

Other Column Ideas: supervisor’s name and contact information,  assign yourself a “complete application by” due date, note if the internship is university-affiliated or a national roster site, how many interns are accepted, etc etc… There’s no limit to what you can do!

Update Your Resume!

Most companies require you to submit your resume along with your application. Rather than copying and pasting the resume you may use for any old job application, this one needs some very specific information! I’ve included some general do’s & don’ts for internship resumes, but make sure to consult your program’s specific application requirements and tailor your resume accordingly.

Essay Questions Tips and Tricks

Internship applications will most likely require you to answer several personal essay questions to supplement. Rather than viewing the prompts as tedious or time-consuming, try to think of them as your first introduction to your potential supervisors, or as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants. In my experience, several internship sites use very similar essay prompts. I’d recommend noticing which sites have similar requirements first. Then, keep track of your drafted answers somewhere so all you have to do is personalize your responses based on each specific application question and associated company. 

BEFORE YOU START…

  1. READ the questions thoroughly
  2. Intentionally OUTLINE your ideas and main points 

(outlining helps map out your responses so they aren’t too short/too wordy)

COMMON Q’S

Why do you want this particular internship?

Why do you want to be a music therapist?

What do you consider your personal strengths and weaknesses?

What are you hoping to learn or get out of internship?

BEFORE SUBMITTING: 

  • Have a pal proofread your work and make edits.
  • Check for grammar or spelling mistakes.
  • Ensure that your responses answer every component of the original prompts.

Musical Competencies/Video Submissions: 

It is more than likely that along with a written application, organizations will require a supplemental live or pre-recorded musical skills demonstration. While musical requirements vary by internship site, here are some general guidelines for recorded submissions. 

  • Present yourself and your surroundings as you would for any professional engagement (appropriate clothing, hair out of your face, organized surroundings). 
  • Make sure your filming location is somewhere without excessive noise.
  • Give yourself time and permission to reshoot.
  • Choose songs you enjoy playing and that highlight your various abilities (incorporate different genres, styles, instruments, etc.).
  • Make sure your video is framed appropriately (E.g., if you’re playing the guitar while singing, your hands, the instrument, and your face should be in the shot). 


Interview Preparation: 

A few days-weeks after you submit your initial application, you should hear if you are invited to schedule an interview! The internship application process can feel so chaotic, and while people prepare for interviews in their own ways, I personally knew I needed to find ways to take control of the process. Here’s what worked for me…

I began my interview preparation by googling “common internship interview questions” as a way to familiarize myself with what I may be asked. I was so fortunate to stumble upon the most perfect resource of 35 mock “Music Therapist Interview Questions,” and felt like I had hit the jackpot! I then went through each question from that website, as well as several others, and wrote out personalized notes and ideas for each question. I was able to think through various clinical scenarios and reflect upon my previous experiences prior to my interview, so I felt more grounded when it came time for the real thing! In addition to cultivating my own interview responses, I asked several friends and family members to hold mock interviews. You may feel a bit silly or inorganic at first, but practicing my interviewing skills with loved ones was such a game changer for the actual interview. 

OTHER INTERVIEW CONSIDERATIONS: 

  • Check the date and time of the interview (keep in mind time zones if the potential site is out of your immediate area).
  • If the interview is online, find a quiet space with reliable wifi where you won’t be easily distracted. 
  • Make sure you present yourself professionally and appropriately.
  • HAVE QUESTIONS in mind for when interviewers inevitably ask, “do you have any questions for me?” This is one of the last opportunities you’ll have to make a strong impression and/or show your excitement for the program… Make. It. Count.

REMEMBER: You’re interviewing the interviewer and the organization too! It is just as important for an internship to align with your wants as it is for you to align with the internship’s.

Hopefully this survival guide helped shed some light on the music therapy internship application process. There are tons of resources out there and while these suggestions worked for me, make sure you do what you need to do to feel successful in your own internship endeavor. 

And Remember… You Got This! 

References

American Music Therapy Association (n.d.). American Music Therapy Association. https://www.musictherapy.org/

Music Therapist Interview Questions. Mock Questions. https://www.mockquestions.com/position/Music+Therapist/Describe-a-session-that-went-really-well-Why-was-it-successf-3260613.html

Organization Directory Search. American Music Therapy Association. https://netforum.avectra.c om/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=amta2&WebCode=OrgSearch

[Pediatric Music Therapy Internship Preparation Course]. Love, A. Pediatric Music Therapy Internship Preparation Course [Powerpoint]. Pediatric Music Therapy. https://www.pediatricmusictherapy.com/product-page/pediatric-music-therapy-internship-course

 

Further Reading

The Evolution of Music Listening


Music Therapy With Houseless Individuals

CONTACT US TODAY

BARBARA REUER, PHD, MT–BC
CEO / Founder
P: 858.457.2201
E: breuer@musicworxinc.com

MUSICWORX INC.
11300 Sorrento Valley Rd., Ste. 104,
San Diego, CA
92121

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