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Heartbroken over externship

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by letitbe_lindsay letitbe_lindsay (New Member) New Member

2,681 Visitors; 25 Posts

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Hi all,

I graduate with a BSN this December. This past spring, many of my classmates (myself included) applied for the various student nurse externships around Arizona in an effort to prepare ourselves for our future jobs. Despite my experience as a PCT, management experience, resident assistant experience, membership in several professional clubs and organizations, and 4.0 grade average, I did not receive an offer for an externship. I did not even qualify for an interview. After getting the bad news, I met with the career services people at my school (again), to talk about my resume, but I was still devastated, especially because I felt I was one of the more qualified individuals among my classmates.

Summer went by and I began an unpaid internship at Pima County Employee Wellness, which I enjoyed, but I still felt I was lacking something. School started back up a few weeks ago and all my classmates who received externships are all aflutter with all the things they learned and the job offer promises that have been made to them. Today during my clinical practicum experience I had the opportunity to work with a classmate who did her externship this summer...and she is so, so, so far ahead of me it's not even funny.

How do I make up for this heartbreaking loss? I know clinical experience is the number one criteria most graduate schools and high-acuity nursing areas look at (I am interested in going to UCSF for my Masters or getting into the ICU, both of which are incredibly competitive). I feel like there is no way that I will get where I want to go without this experience. I'm almost tempted to try to get one after I graduate, and take my NCLEX afterward, just to ensure that I can have those extra hours of experience.

But mostly, I'm just depressed. Why do I try so hard and get nowhere at all? What other kinds of things can I do to boost my resume?

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

5 Followers; 57,962 Visitors; 13,046 Posts

I am sorry to read that you did not get your first choice of a summer experience and I understand your disappointment and worry. But life is full of set-backs like that and other people have overcome much more serious challenges: you can too if you keep plugging away. It may just take a little longer for you than it will for some people -- but you can still get there.

For the moment, you should be concentrating on being the best student you can be while maintaining your mental health. Graduate strong and healthy. If you can find a few opportunities along the way that will get you some extra clinical skills (part time job, extra clinical experience, student practicum, student independent study, etc.) ... then take advantage of that opportunity. But don't ruin your mental health over it. That won't help anything.

I suggest talking with your academic advisor and seeing if he/she can help you come up with some ideas that would be workable within your school structure. For example, I know of one student who regreted the externship she chose and wishes she had done it at my hospital instead. So, she is now doing an independent study here for school and will get a little extra exposure here that might help her get a job here after graduation. See if such a possibility exists at your school.

Another option would be to become a volunteer at the hosptial of your choice. It may not help directly with your clinical skills, but it might help you land a job there after graduation. You could work your way into the positions of your dreams once you have your foot in the door.

Take it one step at a time. Your life and your career is not ruined because you didn't get the externship you wanted. It's just a set-back --- one of many you will have in life. Remember, "It's not what happens to us in life that defines us. Over that, we often have no control. It's how we react to what happens that determines who we are." React well to this and you will be fine -- perhaps even a better person because of it. Don't let one set-back ruin your outlook and/or sanity. Don't sabatage your future success by obsessing about it.

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3,800 Visitors; 144 Posts

1) Please remove the chip from your shoulder. On graduation day, the student with the 4.0 and the students who just barely passed will all get the diploma.

2) I get a feeling that you have a sense of entitlement from all of your qualifications. That's your downfall.

3) You were "more qualified" than some of your other classmates? Was this something you decided yourself? Your "less qualified" peer got ahead of you in the externship, so I think you need to "demote" yourself back down to the level of your peers. Peers=equals.

You need to do your own reality check--it's not your credentials that are limiting you--it's you. Sounds like career services didn't say what YOU wanted them to say, and that only adds fuel to the fire.

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1,628 Visitors; 38 Posts

It seems like your resume is inadequate in describing your abilities. Have you considered a professional resume writing service like CareerPerfect.com?

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2,681 Visitors; 25 Posts

1) Please remove the chip from your shoulder. On graduation day, the student with the 4.0 and the students who just barely passed will all get the diploma.

2) I get a feeling that you have a sense of entitlement from all of your qualifications. That's your downfall.

3) You were "more qualified" than some of your other classmates? Was this something you decided yourself? Your "less qualified" peer got ahead of you in the externship, so I think you need to "demote" yourself back down to the level of your peers. Peers=equals.

You need to do your own reality check--it's not your credentials that are limiting you--it's you. Sounds like career services didn't say what YOU wanted them to say, and that only adds fuel to the fire.

I really apologize if my post came off this way to you. I believe I am a humble individual, and I don't have a chip on my shoulder. After this happened the first thing I did was to ask these employers how I could better market myself to their needs in the future, and address career services for help and advice on my job hunt. My first reaction was not to say, "BUT I DESERVED THAT!," it was to ask, "Why didn't I deserve that? How can I make myself deserve it?" Obviously this is a hard question to reflect upon for any individual and currently I am struggling with some professional self-esteem issues as I figure out the answers. Although I thank you for your thoughtfulness of this post and certainly I applaud your candor, I have to tell you, someone I don't even know telling me I have a chip on my shoulder when I'm trying to get help is incredibly hurtful.

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6,272 Visitors; 208 Posts

I'm sorry that you did not have the same opportunity this spring...but in your post you state you have PCT experience. Can you go back to being a PCT 1-2 days/evenings a week while you complete nursing school??? IMHO that is your foot in the door.

I did an externship the summer before my senior year...but that is not why I got a job when I graduated. When the externship was over, I continued on at a PCT and worked as much as possible (while maintaining my grades) and that is why I got hired as a resident. I proved that I was hard working and had a great attitude, even when I was exhausted.

Good Luck to you!

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PureLifeRN has 4 years experience and specializes in OR.

5,943 Visitors; 149 Posts

1) Please remove the chip from your shoulder. On graduation day, the student with the 4.0 and the students who just barely passed will all get the diploma.

2) I get a feeling that you have a sense of entitlement from all of your qualifications. That's your downfall.

3) You were "more qualified" than some of your other classmates? Was this something you decided yourself? Your "less qualified" peer got ahead of you in the externship, so I think you need to "demote" yourself back down to the level of your peers. Peers=equals.

You need to do your own reality check--it's not your credentials that are limiting you--it's you. Sounds like career services didn't say what YOU wanted them to say, and that only adds fuel to the fire.

I did not get this vibe at all from the OP. Sounds like you've got a chip on your shoulder....perhaps you did not have a good GPA as the OP?? lol, chill out. She came looking for advice, not a lecture.

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Meriwhen is a ASN, BSN, RN and specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

2 Followers; 4 Articles; 59,129 Visitors; 7,869 Posts

After getting the bad news, I met with the career services people at my school (again), to talk about my resume, but I was still devastated, especially because I felt I was one of the more qualified individuals among my classmates.

First, I'm sorry that you did not get picked for an externship. I know that you are are disappointed.

Second...how do you know you were one of the more qualified candidates? Or more accurately, how do you know for certain that your classmates were less qualified than you? Yes, you have the best GPA, but as I've learned myself, the cherry doesn't automatically go to the one with the highest marks...and that can be crushing to one's ego. I've felt your pain.

Perhaps your classmates had something you didn't. It could have been more pertinent work experience, more relevant organizational memberships, a resume that better presented their abilities, better interviewing skills, better networking, better clinical experiences, better timing, more flexibility...who knows?

I agree: talk to your academic advisor to brainstorm new ideas and opportunities for you. Also take a hard look at your resume and see how it can be improved. If you don't like what career services told you, you could always post your resume here for feedback. Ask a couple of your classmates who did get externships if you could see copies of their resume, so you can get an idea of what they had on them.

And definitely don't keep beating yourself over it. You can't undo what's happened, so you need to focus on what you can do for the future. Like llg said, you may not land in your dream job right away, but just keep pushing forward. IMO any experience you get along the way can only help you--even if it doesn't directly help you get into the ICU or grad school, it can help you grow and develop both as a person and as a nurse.

Best of luck with the rest of your studies!

Edited by Meriwhen

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 43,833 Visitors; 5,400 Posts

Definitely take a good look at your resume and interviewing skills. Read up on how to dress, act, etc.

Also be aware it is often as much who you know outside of your resume that determines who actually sees it. I believe strongly in the medical field that networking is often the key to success. Utilize your clinical time this semester to definitely be building those relationships. Every contact a nursing student has in the medical sector should be looked at as an informal job interview in its own right.

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