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Many students are hired by an agency where they do a placement or internship. As a student, you want to make the best possible impression you can during this very important part of your training! Even if an agency can’t hire you right now, they may be able to offer you a position down the road and you also want to be able to get a great reference from your placement supervisor. 

TRO asked several professionals who supervise Therapeutic Recreation (TR) students: “What should students do to really shine during their placements or internships?”. Here are some of the responses we got:

  • Do NOT have your parents call to make initial contact with your potential placement. It is an immediate turn-off!

  • Be prepared when going for your placement interview. Bring a copy of your resume with you. Think ahead of time about your learning objectives. Do you have an area of interest that you would like to focus on?

  • Review your placement / internship manual beforehand so that you have a good understanding of the competencies you have to complete.

  • Do your homework about the organization before going for a placement interview. We always ask students “What do you know about us?”. Most organizations have websites that will give you a wealth of information.

  • Complete all pre-placement steps on time. You don’t want the start of your placement delayed because you haven’t completed the necessary paperwork. This will not leave a good first impression with your agency.

  • Ask questions... you are not expected to know everything...demonstrate enthusiasm through being inquisitive.

  • Be punctual and watch very carefully the number of days that you are absent from placement. “We will be watching and assessing you as a potential employee”.

  • Take initiative and complete your required competencies early. This leaves more room for additional experiences.

  • Learn team members names and work collaboratively with everyone you encounter.

  • Come to placement dressed appropriately. Look around when you come for your interview and your first day of work. How do the front line recreation therapy staff dress? Aim to dress in a similar fashion.

  • Take on a challenge! You have the support of your agency and school supervisor so don’t be afraid to try something outside of your comfort zone.

  • Communicate early on and openly with your supervisor about struggles you may be having. “It will be more difficult for both of us if you wait until you are having real difficulty”.

  • Be open to constructive feedback. “I have had people cry and argue about feedback that I have given. It is a bit of a red flag if I feel that you are not open to hearing feedback”.

  • Get involved in whatever way possible (committees, lunch and learns, family meetings, workshops, team meetings etc.).

  • If you see a hole / need at the facility - be the one to fill it! Find new and innovative program ideas. Think outside the box.

  • Ask to shadow other disciplines to learn the full scope of team potential.

  • Do your best to work independently. Never hesitate to ask questions, but show that you are listening to information you have already received.

  • Go to annual conferences such as the TRO conference. You will be inspired by what you hear and will come away with lots of great information. This also shows your supervisor that you are motivated to learn as much as you can about your future profession.

  • Build your resume by taking advantage of in-house learning opportunities (workshops, lunch and learns, presentations etc.).

  • “The students that are the most successful  are those that stand out, go the extra mile, are curious, engage with our residents and appear as though they love the work”.

  • Offer to volunteer above and beyond your school requirements.

  • Make contact in the organization with those that have the decision making abilities to hire you. Your direct supervisor may not be the person who is responsible for hiring you. Make yourself known to that person as often as you can.

  • Be sure to ask at the end of your placement or internship for a letter from your supervisor confirming the number of hours you completed and a brief description of your role. This will help when you apply for your Registration with TRO.

  • At the end of the placement / internship, send a thank-you email or card. It will help you stand out from other candidates and help us remember who you are.