A person working on a laptop at a desk with a musical keyboard

This past weekend, many of my music therapy colleagues celebrated the milestone of completing all academic coursework, and many are on the way towards starting internship soon.

As I reflect back on the different life transitions in my music therapy career, I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since I finished these milestones! A lot has changed since entering the “real world,” yet, I still see how some things I learned in internship continue to be relevant in my day to day as a working professional.

For me, internship was a season of self care, capacity stretching, and professional growth. These things have all stuck with me, and continue to be relevant in my work at Music Therapy Connections.

Self Care – With new assignments and experiences each week, internship is very fast paced. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed at all the new responsibilities, but through regularly journaling about my day, my reactions, and the struggles that I encountered, I began to see how important it was to be in tune with my inner thoughts and actively seek opportunities to cope with stressful situations in a healthy way.

For me, self care looks like setting time aside in my schedule or in my commute to mentally and emotionally transition from home life to work life. I also like to do things that remind me that my identity and purpose isn’t defined solely through music therapy, such as spend time to deepen my relationship with my family and friends, as well as exercise.

Capacity Stretching – As a student, you are usually doing music therapy once a week, and preparing and doing documentation for that one session for a couple of days. In internship, you are typically leading multiple sessions a day for five days a week, and decreasing prep and documentation time significantly.

While growth in capacity doesn’t happen overnight, it is something that is essential in the transition from internship to working life. Not only is it about growing capacity, but it’s also about becoming more comfortable with increasing efficiency with planning time. This is definitely something that I am still growing in, especially since I know things will only get busier!

Professional Growth – I love how internship not only prepares you to do music therapy, but to also interact and work with other professionals and other individuals who support your clients. Establishing effective work and professional habits and communicating with others is definitely a skill that I use every day to talk with parents, support workers, future contracts, and to the public.

That being said, there are some things from internship that I’ve since learned were specific to my internship season.

Constant accountability – Every week in my internship, I had time devoted to meeting with my supervisors to discuss any issues and to help me stay on track. Now that I am working, it is important that I take ownership of my work and take steps to develop areas in need even when I don’t have a supervisor to keep me accountable.

Access to Information – As an intern, I took advantage of my student status and utilized my school library’s database of research articles on a weekly basis. Now that I’ve officially graduated,  I miss no longer having that access through my student account. I guess part of working in the real world is about letting go of student perks, eventually…

That’s all my post-internship thoughts for now.

Shout out to all the new interns, current interns, and post-interns who are all walking this music therapy journey with me! If you have any internship stories, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!