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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Kayla’s Declassified Spring Survival Guide


by Kayla

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Let’s set the tone for this blog. Ready? Close your eyes, picture a perfectly sunny Southern California day, a beautifully organized planner with all of your assignments for the month, a nice cold iced coffee,  and a feeling of finally settling into your routine for the semester. Blissful right?….But then you remember, you’re still looking for an external residency site. I don’t know, maybe I was alone in feeling continual stress in the background surrounding finding an external residency during spring semester (but something tells me I probably wasn’t). And something else tells me that you all might be feeling something similar if you are at this point in your journey towards the PP-OTD program.

Luckily, I’ve already been through it so I can share with you some of the things that I learned while reaching out to possible external sites! Tip One: I cannot stress enough is to take the time to sit down and REALLY have a heart-to-heart with yourself and decide what you want out of your residency experience. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to find a residency that speaks to your why. It makes all of the difference when you are reaching out to sites. Not only can they ~feel~ the difference if you are walking in your truth, but I think it will give you more of a confidence boost and help you fall into the right situation! If you seek to find a residency that speaks to your why, I promise, it is so much easier to portray your passion and ultimately, what you will bring to that site as a resident!

Tip Two: Hearing “no”, is okay! In fact, the words “no”, “thank you, however”, and “unfortunately” shaped my spring and summer of 2021. While it was definitely not fun to hear at the time, each time an opportunity didn’t work out, it was just another chance for me to reframe, refine, and re-try! Self-reflection was HUGE for me at this time. I was always thinking about how to make myself stand out as a candidate and refine my elevator speech (oh, the infamous elevator speech) about the PP-OTD program even more compelling and intriguing to potential residency sites.

Segueing into tip three….. This is a process of finding an external residency site. I chose those words intentionally, it is a process. For some, it may be quick, for others it may require a little bit more time, but enjoy the process! Enjoy YOUR process.

This last tip, I cannot stress enough. Use your resources! Former residents, program faculty, *cough, cough* yours truly, and literally anything else you can think of. If you have to complete an interview, set up a mock interview. If you have to write personal statements, have your peers and a trusted faculty member look them over and give you feedback. While these opportunities may seem scary or seem like more work at the time, they truly help make us better in the long run. I think this would be a great place to share some wise words from a mentor, “No one has ever been too prepared”.

So, now let’s go back to that scene we set at the beginning. Picture that perfectly sunny Southern California day, your perfect planner, that pristine iced coffee, and that feeling of peace after finally settling into your routine for the semester. But this time, imagine yourself with a feeling of confidence replacing that stress about finding an external residency. Confidence in yourself and confidence in your plan; you’ve got this!

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