The time has come. Time for stress, uncertainties and crippling anxiety over the near future. Internship applications have just opened for us final-year medical students, which means the next month will be a flurry of navigating different hospitals’ job application portals, writing contrived cover letters and embellishing lackluster resumes to sell ourselves.
To understand why it is a tedious and arduous process, I need to explain what the internship matching process is like for us. There is a centralised website on which we register as a candidate, type in our CV and list preferences for hospitals we want to intern at. There are 15 slots available and they recommend a good spread of metro and rural hospitals. Of course, if you’re feeling confident that you don’t need back-ups, feel free to take your chances, but for most of us the majority of that list will be filled. But wait, there’s more. For each of the hospitals you preference, you also need to apply on their individual websites. Each hospital has its own requirements and that may be a cover letter, re-upload of your CV, answering specific questions etc. So, if you preference 15 hospitals you better be prepared to do the work for all of them. And don’t think one cover letter can be used repetitively with a changed address, because they all have their own mission statements and values they look for in an employee plastered all over their websites. So there needs to be considerable tailoring and editing to make them applicable to each one.
And then, if that isn’t enough for you, we have a 15-minute online interview on the 4th of June. 5 questions, with 1 minute reading time and 2 minutes to answer for each. It will be recorded on a program and distributed to all the hospitals we apply for. We only have one go at it and will only be allowed to redo the interview with a different set of questions if there’s technical difficulties or the internet cuts out.
Phew! That’s pretty much the gist of it. It’s pretty daunting for someone like me, who has never really needed to formally apply for a professional job through CVs and interviews. I’ve been really lucky to have all my past jobs almost fall directly into my lap, so this time round I’m really starting from scratch. There’s a lot to learn regarding the finesse and techniques that come with job applications.
Which is actually something I want to talk about. There’s something about this process that irks me. As I’ve been filling out my CV and listening to my peers discuss how to embellish it so that they sound more enticing, I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of “selling myself.” Don’t get me wrong, I understand its importance when you are trying to stick out from a crowd of high-achievers and I certainly will endeavour to write a polished CV, but it all just seems so contrived and artificial. How can I make a short sales assistant role from years ago sound ten times more attractive and important than it was? I feel the same way about our upcoming interviews, where I once again have to make mountains out of molehills. “I’ve demonstrated leadership skills through my role as the head VCE English tutor at a well-established tutoring institute, working in a team of 20 tutors collaboratively to guide students in their learning and achieve outstanding results…” Ew. I sound so fake and unlike myself. Perhaps it’s because I am still a student and realistically have zero experiences as a doctor, or because I don’t have other relevant past careers or outstanding skills I am particularly proud of. But I genuinely feel like I’m weaving bullshit from virtually nothing and it makes me feel guilty to be playing the game.
And don’t get me started on writing cover letters. Explaining how I embody the hospital’s core values and can see myself aligning with their mission statements? What lies! I just want a job in a nice environment that isn’t hours away from home. Your hospital is fifteen minutes from me, therefore that’s why I’m applying! Definitely can’t say that. Sure, I’m not lying when I wite I am a diligent worker who continually strives for academic and professional excellence, but does it really make a huge difference? And how can they make us prove everything we write is true? We are all going to use the same flowery, suck-up flattery because no one is dumb enough to say otherwise.
But as I write all of this I realise I am in a position of luxury. The luxury to make my own choices. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but my academic transcript gives me a huge advantage compared to some of my peers. I recently had a meeting with a mentor I am close to (who is also coincidentally in a senior position related to the internship process at the hospital I study at), and she reminded me that our scores play a major role and that virtually everything else will come second. I expressed some concerns in having a relatively mediocre CV and she told me not to worry, and that I’d be ranked fairly well from my scores alone. She also had confidence I’d be sensible in the interview and not say anything drastically stupid (let’s hope she ends up being right), which means 80% of the job is done. So, what does that mean for others who are not in this position? When you’re already behind before the race has even started? It means that everything above that I have attacked and lamented over as being artificial is someone else’s potential lifeline. When certain variables have already been fixed and this is the only possibility of changing the outcome, wouldn’t you? It’s a tedious and stressful time for everyone involved, but it’s a necessary process to make things a little fairer and give everyone an opportunity to achieve a positive outcome. I shouldn’t complain, it’s a rite of passage every cohort before us has been through, and so will every subsequent one. It’s probably also good practise to develop some skills for the future where I will actually build up an impressive CV and have a wealth of experiences to show-off.
So that’s where we’re at. I need to have everything submitted before the 4th of June and I’m already tired. And I haven’t even started! Fingers crossed I find the motivation in the next few days to smash out some great cover letters and have everything done in time. I’ll let you know how it all goes!