Drum roll please…..

I secured myself a practicum!!!!

On Tuesday June 26th I drove about 2 hours north for an interview at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. It was a group interview and honestly I was pretty nervous. Up until this point I had done 6 phone int58ac5444e9a9aerviews. All of the practicums were out of state, so phone interviews were the best route. None of those phone interviews went well. They were awkward, I had a hard time playing off the interviewers reactions since I was unable to see them, and I feel like it’s just very hard to sell yourself over the phone.

So although the interview at UC Davis was 2 hours away I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to do an in person interview. It was a group interview, so it was me plus 3 other candidates interviewing with 3 Child Life Specialists. Now, this is the first time UC Davis is offering a practicum – I was completely unaware of this – so I really was only up against 3 other girls. I didn’t have to try to compete against a ton of other people. This absolutely worked in my favor.

We were asked 5 questions:

  • What is it about UC Davis that made you apply here as opposed to another hospital?
  • What is your experience like and how does it set you apart from the rest of the candidates?
  • In what area do you think you can improve your work with children?
  • What is your elevator speech for what a Certified Child Life Specialist does?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

I walked away from the group interview feeling great. I was able to listen to the other candidates responses to the questions that were asked, and what each of their experiences with kids was like. In all honesty, I felt like I was truly one of the more qualified candidates. After the interview, the current Child Life interns at UC Davis came to pick the 4 of us up and took us on a quick tour of the floors. This was pretty cool because we got to pick the brains of two current interns and it got us excited to see where we may complete our practicum.

About a week later I got a call from a woman named Emily at UC Davis and she offered me a spot – they had two spots to give! I was thrilled, I just wanted to scream, but at the same time I was speechless. I have been waiting for this for so long and I got the break I needed! I finally feel like I am on the right track and making really good progress in my career.

My practicum will begin in October 2018, and go through December 2018. It will be about 12 hours a week, 2 days a week. The Child Life team is still figuring out logistics but I will certainly be documenting my experiences! It sounds like we will do two rotations one in the infusion center and one in the PICU. We will have assignments to complete while there such as presenting a case study, as well as readings. I am really excited that I will be at the hospital during the holidays! I am sure I will have a ton of fun activities to show everyone.

This is going to sound a bit corny but, I believe in signs. The week before my interview I had Chinese food and received these TWO fortunes in one cookie: I took them as a sign. Dont give up!

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So, how did I do it?

I think a lot of it was luck. I know this isn’t helpful, but I wasn’t up against many other candidates.

I prepared for the interview! I have a list of interview questions that I have typed up, that I reviewed my answered for so I knew what to talk about. If you want it, let me know and I will send it along!

My experience. I know this got me ahead of others. We all have babysitting, nannying, and a genuine love for children. However, I have 5 years volunteer experience in a hospital setting, and I spent the last 7 months working one on one with a child as a behavior specialist in his school. I worked with his school team, healthcare providers, and blended family. I also spent time at an Oncology camp as a camp counselor. This 100% put me ahead because I was able to reference these experiences of how I am more prepared than others for this practicum.

I went in very confident! I felt good about myself, I got myself a coffee on the drive there, I did my make up, got a blow out that morning, and was really just feeling genuinely good about myself.

And if all else fails….Fake it till you make it!!! If you pretend you know what you are doing, people will believe you actually know what you’re doing and will put confidence in you! I do this often unfortunately, but it works!

GOOD LUCK!!!

Camp Okizu

I just got back from 9 days at a camp called Camp Okizu. I had such an amazing time! First of all,  have never gone to camp, even as a kid. My only frame of reference was from The Parent Trap with Lindsey Lohan.  Summer-Camp.jpg

A little background on Camp Okizu. It is located in Berry Creek, CA which is about an hour from Chico, CA.  Camp Okizu is an Oncology camp. They have weeks where kids who have or had cancer can attend, as well as weeks when siblings of those affected by cancer can attend. They also have family camps. There is always medical staff there to make sure the kids are getting their medication, and to assist with any situations that may arise. Every year there is a new theme. This year the theme was Superhero!

 

I went to Oncology week 1, so the population I worked with were kiddos who had cancer, or are currently going through treatment. The first two days were staff training days. There was about 40 of us counselors, and over the two days, we really got to get to know each other through playing games, and spending time during meals together. A lot of the counselors were either oncology campers themselves, or a sibling of a camper. There were also plenty of us who are interested in working with this population in our field. Because many of the counselors were campers themselves, Many of them know each other very well. They are all very welcoming to the new staff, and by the end of the 9 days you feel like you have known these people forever. It has been about a week since I’ve been home, and I am missing them all very much.

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Padfoot, Strawberry, Atari, Stat

In my cabin, I had 3 other counselors with me. Two of which were experienced, and one other who was new. To the 4 of us we had 7 girls between the ages of 9-12. The councelors all chose camp names instead of going by our given names. I chose the name Padfoot. (Points given to any of you who know what the name is in reference to.) We slept outside during the night, which was absolutely beautiful! I have never seen so many stars.

 

Our days were filled with tons of activities. As a cabin we got to do swimming, boating, arts & crafts, archery, fishing, hiking, etc. The kids also got to break off into Special Interest groups and do activities with other kids of various ages. During the week, meals were made special and unique by adding twists. We did a baseball lunch -the kids had to literally catch their hotdogs and chips, absolutely amazing lol!- we had meals outside with other cabins. We also had special events during the day – Mission in Metropolis – playing games to redeem for tickets, which the kids could turn in for a snow cone, or dunk a counselor.

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This is what the week looked like

This experience was absolutely exhausting, by the time I got home I was dead tired, I had a ton of mosquito bites, I needed a shower, and couldn’t wash my clothes fast enough. However, It was one of the most exciting and rewarding weeks I have had in a long time. I met so many amazing kids who openly shared their story with cancer, there was crying, laughter, and mourning the loved ones they have lost from cancer.

 

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids, or co counselors to have had this experience with. I will absolutely be back next year for Oncology 1! If you live in the area, I strongly encourage you to check them out!

Camp Okizu Website

The end of Child Life month

Child Life month (March) was filled with a ton of excitement for me. Including getting a few fun prizes for a child life giveaway I entered.

I have followed Shani (Child Life Mommy) for the past few years. She was one of the first Child Life Specialist I contacted when I was looking for information on the field of child life. More recently, I came across Dawn (Dose of Play), Randi (Kid Cope Specialist), and Diane (Adventures in Child Life). These incredibly women have all been inspirations while navigating the field as well as creating this blog!

For Child Life month some child life specialists like to do give aways of something they have created, a favorite distraction/prep toy, or just something child life related. I entered a giveaway that I won! No joke, I was so excited about this, I never win anything!

I am excited to begin my collection of these toys and books so that when I do become a CCLS I will be able to use them! I also plan on playing with them so I can become more familiar with them and how they can help.

Be sure to check out their blogs and follow them on Instagram!

Child Life Mommy

Dose of Play

Adventures in Child Life also check out her Etsy shop

Kid Cope Specialists

 

 

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From Adventures in Child Life!

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It’s time for your check up from Child Life Mommy and Understanding Myself from Kid Cope Specialists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some fun distraction toys from Dose of Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My plan for 2018

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I am a planner. I need checklists of things to do and things that are on my mind. With that being said, I of course have a plan for 2018. This will also give you an idea of what you can expect to see me writing about over the next year.

  • I want to look into becoming certified in Infant Massage. Babies in the NICU need soothing touch so I think this would be a great thing to build my resume with. I am looking into a couple different programs
  • I am signed up for my first intro to Child Life class through UCSB Extension. It begins at the beginning of Jan. They offer an online certificate in Child Life. I am starting with just the intro class because I am hoping to get into a grad program that offers child life.
  • I need to submit my grad school applications for Fall 2018.
    • University of Minnesota – I really really really want to get into this program. Send me positive vibes!
    • Arizona State University –  If I choose this route I need to take the remaining required Child Life classes through UCSB extention
      • Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Family and Human Development
      • Social Work – I like this route as well because I can always make a career change if I really want/need to. I would take the Child Life classes through UCSB to qualify for the exam. The tricky part is going to be finding an internship that will work for both social work and Child Life. Not sure if that is possible.
  • I want to begin volunteering at a new hospital, make new connections and just get a fresh start. I have already begun the process through UCSF Mission Bay, I am just waiting for the health clearance.
  • Apply for a Child Life practicum.

 

A little background on me

My journey began about 5 years ago in 2012 when a friend of mine was in school to become a Nurse Practitioner. She had to complete rounds in Child Life and mentioned it to me as something she believed I would be interested in. At first, I brushed it off…working with sick kids? That seemed terrifying and sad. At this point I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I know I wanted to work with kids, and I knew I wanted to be in a medical setting, but I did not want to be a doctor or NP. I played with the idea of entering the field of psychology, social work, teaching, opening my own in home daycare…so many thought of what I could do!

I eventually came back to the idea of Child Life and decided to start volunteering with my local children hospital. I began volunteering there in Feb 2013 trying out the different departments. I began with Art Cart in the Cancer Center where I worked with a child life specialist and set up art activities for the kids and their families in the waiting room. After that, I decided I wanted to try something else and was placed in the waiting room in the outpatient surgery unit. I was really only there for about a month. I had the hardest time navigating that unit. Lastly, I came across the Preschool Playroom, and that is where I would stay for the next few years.

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I loved working in the playroom. It was a playroom specifically for ages 0-3. At first I was volunteering directly with a Certified Child Life Specialist, and I loved her! After talking to her and picking her brain about what a Child Life Specialist does, I realized pursuing a career as a Child Life Specialist was exactly what I wanted to do and I was exactly where I needed to be in order to do that.

The hospital ended up changing things around, and instead of CCLS’s running the playrooms they hired Playroom Coordinators. This was a bummer for me because I really wanted to work alongside a CCLS. I think I went through a total of 3 or 4 playroom coordinators before one of them stuck. I ended up taking a break from volunteering because school became a bit hectic. I went back to volunteering about 6 months later and the woman who was my co volunteer 6 months prior ended up being hired as a Playroom Coordinator. I thought this was awesome! I was so excited because I thought to myself, “This could be my next step! I can get a job as a playroom coordinator”. However, that wasn’t in the cards for me.

After I applied for a position, no one was giving me a call back regarding my application and I became frustrated. Eventually my supervisor put in a good word for me and I got an interview. The interview didn’t go great, it was very awkward and really felt like they were doing it to check me off their list. I decided to move on from the idea of getting a job at this hospital. I hoped they would have more invested in me, having been a loyal volunteer for 4 years. I wasn’t getting the help or guidance in the Child Life field, so I decided to move on, which turns out was for the best!

I have been working for a sports medicine office for about 5 1/2 years as an assistant and I decided it was time to move on from there too – needless to say 2017 has been filled with a ton of changes.

I found an awesome job working with a small company as a behavior specialist. It is new, it is hard, and I wouldn’t call it my dream job, but it is a step in the right direction and I am learning so much! I am very excited to begin this new journey.