It is a busy time of year for third year AuD students who should all be in the thick of the 4th year externship search. As you attempt to finalize your placements for the upcoming year, here are some suggestions based on my conversations with classmates and my experiences as an AuD student.
One of the greatest resources for finding externships is HearCareers sponsored by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). This site lists nationwide externships available in a variety of settings. Sites that choose to list their information have to fill out a brief profile. This is useful for AuD students because it provides an idea of what the setting may have to offer prior to needing to make initial contact. One great feature of HearCareers is the ability to search externships by state, useful for those in search of a particular geographic location. Keep in mind that HearCareers is by no means an exhaustive list of externships.
An overlooked resource can be your own audiology program. My program maintains a database of potentially available externships. In addition, our clinic director seeks feedback from students who have completed their externships to get an idea as to whether or not they would recommend the location for future students to acquire clinical experience. If a past student has been to a location and had a great experience, that can provide insight regarding what to expect. It may also pave the way for obtaining that placement, particularly if the former student left a good impression.
Conferences are another great place to learn about externships and job opportunities. Don’t be afraid to network, both on the exhibit hall floor and in sessions. I attended the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) conference in 2012 and they had a great system. There were ribbons available for students that said “Looking for externship” and ribbons were available for professionals that read “Looking for 4th year student” (or something to that effect). This served as an effective means of encouraging conversations between AuD students and externship contacts. Keep in mind that both the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and AAA both have job fairs available too.
Another often untapped source for either job or externship information is through hearing aid sales reps. Often times sales reps have information about potential opportunities offered by audiologists within their sales territory. I have also found some externships posted on hospital career pages. These positions may not make it to HearCareers, but if you know a city you are interested in, search hospital job pages (especially children’s hospitals). Similarly, I have seen externships and jobs posted on email listservs for various organization. Both the Educational Audiology Association and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology have active listservs where positions and externships have been posted.
If you know you are going to stay locally, your prior clinical placements can come in handy. This is why it is important to act professionally even if you are only a first year student. You never know when you may need to call upon a placement or professional you have previously worked with. I contacted an ENT office I had as a placement during the fall of my second year and ended up obtaining a position there.
When it comes time to deciding which sites to apply for and which position to accept, some introspection is needed. Do you already have an idea of what type of setting you wish to work in or are you still exploring? I have several areas of audiology that I really enjoy (pediatrics and private practice) but I knew that my vestibular skills were one of my weaker skill sets, so I ended up taking a fourth year position at an ENT office that sees some children, has a brisk hearing aid business, and does a good amount of vestibular testing. I knew I would be able to maintain and hone my pediatric and hearing aid skills while further developing my vestibular skills. Just some food for thought to keep in mind as you explore externship opportunities!
Caleb McNiece is a 4th year AuD student at the University of Memphis. He is currently completing his 4th year externship at an ENT practice located in the greater Memphis metropolitan area. Caleb is the former Region 3 Representative serving on behalf of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (NSSLHA) Executive Council. He has been active in the University of Memphis NSSLHA and Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Chapters. His anticipated date of graduation is May 2014. Caleb aspires to own his own private practice one day.