And so it begins

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!

36 thoughts on “And so it begins

  1. Yeah, the system is pretty shitty. Similar to college or grad school apps, but you mentioned 15 e.g. so that is even more intense. Egh. Iunno. It’s pretty ew. Not judging, just agreeing with you. I always wanted to find a way to be honest AND write a good cover letter, so like, to have my cake and eat it too. That way, my conscience AND my career prospects are both taken care of. I don’t know how strict the application process for doctors is, but do consider adding a hint of honesty to your apps. Nothing makes you stand out like being yourself. Then again, I don’t want to screw up your process for you, so do what you think is best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No I completely agree, honesty is integral to a job application and I’d like to think most of us won’t blatantly lie in our applications. I’m just already over this process and we’ve barely begun haha, making myself sound more important than I feel like I am is tiresome. Been editing the same cover letter for days now!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think rewording the part of “I want to work there because I live next-door” (or something like that) will actually work. Something like: The proximity of (name hospital) to my home will facilitate immediate response time to emergencies as well as enable more time on the job. Or something like that, LOL. Just have to make everything you want sound like a positive for THEM!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My kind of problem solving! This is gold really. And could really help those of us that get stuck on questions like that. The process: write the truth, find a way to make it a benefit to the asking party.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Ahahaha that’s very true! Man there’s so many embellishments and minor tweakings of truth in a job application it’s doing my head in. I’m ready for it all to be over and there’s literally a month to go

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with ‘Sheree’ above. You’re pure gold Helen so you can afford to be yourself 🙂 There are subtle ways you can let some personality shine through however. I recall an application from a very good candidate for an office job and she’d hit on making her application stand out by calling her CV file a special name, which I don’t recall, but something like ImTheOne.doc and it really stood out when she attached it to her email. Such a small thing yet it really worked to create the *right* impression!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww that’s so kind of you, thank you! Ooo what a creative name! I’m not sure whether we have the liberty of doing that but I will certainly will try to find ways of showing a bit more of my personality so I’m not just another one in the pack 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Helen, wish you all the luck in your future endeavours. May the force be with you.
    Thanks and much appreciated for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I agree with Xena and Lucy about the proximity answer, seems plausible that mitigating immediate response on call will matter…though I believe whatever you say is genuine, it comes through here and will work because you are being you! I so appreciate your honesty here and how hard you’re working to follow/reach your goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All the best! It does sound like a very drawn out process but I’m sure you’ll be fine. I’m not in medicine but am also applying for roles and internships so definitely know how you feel!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, it seems a tedious process and unofficially impersonal. I mean, how many things must be done before you’re interacting with actual people? I’ve no doubt you’ll look really good on paper, because the paper will indicate who you are, your interest, your investment in your interest, and your performing successfully thus far. I trust you’ll have enthusiastic recommendations, too. Your reasons for wanting to go where you want to go are sound, though I suppose you’ll have to find some language from the organization (the hospital) that you can speak back to with similar language of your own. It’s prudent to see all this process as ritual and culture, though I suppose part of that is coming across fresh and new and enthused and promising each time. Then, of course, you have deal with this unprecedented tension caused by the virus.

    I certainly wish you well and you receive exactly the right situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, we actually don’t get to interact with anyone this year! They’ve made the interviews an online recording as well, to minimise unnecessary human contact and to allow hospital staff time to focus on more pressing matters. I am slowly getting there and drafting up all my cover letters, it’s a long and tedious process but we will get there. Thank you so much for all of the support, I really appreciate it.


  8. I remember someone telling me a joke about a guy whonaces an interview with his insights and experience.
    Then the interviewer asks:
    “Just one thing I am curious about. You are clearly very accomplished, but what do you think is your biggest weakness.”
    Guy doesn’t hesitate: “Honesty.”

    “That’s interesting,” says the interviewer, “but for myself, I don’t think I would consider honesty a weakness.”

    The guy replies: “Well, I don’t give a **** what you think.”

    — fact is, I gey the conflict, and I always baulk at stuff like selling myself as a “motivated creative individual” or whatever when I know darn well that nobody’s likely to write: “I get up, when I feel like it and maybe have an idea once a year if I can be arsed”…

    But somehow, just like the way people like yourselves surprise yourselves by learning to do impossible things when training to do the work you have committed yourself to, people somehow tend to find a way of showing what is written on their hearts.
    I don’t doubt you’ll do that… and it will do you credit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahaha I have to say, this made me chuckle. Thank you very much 🙂 I’m going to be myself but in a. nicely packaged form. With 3 minutes to answer each question a recorded interview there’s a bit of pressure there but we’ll see how it goes!


  9. I would say, just add how experiences in your past jobs help you in your job as a doctor. Sales Assistant or hostess job help developing patience with people and professionalism. You learn managing time and multi-tasking. Being a cheerleader or team-sports player builds teamwork habits. Being a nanny helps you learn take responsibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s