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About a quarter of students in the 2006 APPIC Match learned on Early Notification Day that they didn't pair off with an internship site. But their internship searches were far from over. About two-thirds of the 731 unmatched students eventually found placements through the APPIC Clearinghouse.

So if you're facing the Clearinghouse on this year's Match Day — Monday, Feb. 26 — don't despair. Instead, get working. Take the three days between Notification Day and when the Clearinghouse opens to prepare emotionally and physically for the fast-paced application process, advise Clearinghouse veterans.

Here are a few ways you can prepare:

  • Read the instructions. APPIC's Clearinghouse instructions for internship applicants cover how the Clearinghouse works, list Match Day do's and don'ts and offer advice on getting organized and finding support. Be sure to subscribe to the APPIC Clearinghouse e-mail list, through which training directors communicate directly about unfilled positions when the Clearinghouse opens. Directions for subscribing are on the first page of the clearinghouse instructions.

  • Decide where you are willing to go. In the Clearinghouse, your geographic options may be limited, so consider whether your finances can handle a nonfunded position, if your career goals mesh with a nonaccredited position or where you might be willing to move. "Figure these things out beforehand, because you have to make relatively quick decisions on Match Day," says Keilin.

  • Ready your materials. Prepare an electronic file that includes only a cover letter and your curriculum vitae and does not exceed 10 pages-a firm APPIC Clearinghouse rule. Sites don't expect a tailored cover letter, says Keilin, but consider creating two somewhat customized versions if, say, you are going to apply to mostly Veterans Administration sites and counseling center sites. Gather electronic copies of additional materials training directors may ask for, including your APPIC Application for Psychology Internship form and letters of recommendation. If you can't get these materials electronically, have plenty of copies on hand.

  • Enlist help. Ask your family and friends to help you field calls, fax application materials, make coffee and track information about sites you have applied to. It's also wise to inform your faculty advisers right away that you weren't matched, since training directors may call them about your qualifications, or to share leads.

  • Get up early Match Day. Apply to the sites you are most interested in as soon as the Clearinghouse opens, say experts. "What started as a trickle on Monday morning turned into a flood by that afternoon," says Clarissa Bush, PhD, training director of the clinical neuropsychology internship at SCO Health Service in Ottawa, of application e-mails she received from potential interns during one recent Clearinghouse. She says she was able to look more carefully at the applications that came in the morning when things were slower, and by afternoon was deleting messages that lacked detail about a student's training goals or expertise. Her advice: "Carefully target the programs that offer the training you want and get that across in the first few lines of the email to get noticed."

  • Be confident. Entering the Clearinghouse doesn't mean you are a poor candidate or a bad therapist, says APAGS Chair Kristi Sands Van Sickle, PsyD, herself a Clearinghouse veteran. Students may have, in fact, limited themselves geographically or applied to too many competitive sites, says Keilin. And some top-flight internships are available, say APPIC officials. Some are there because they joined late because of a funding delay, didn't initially receive many applications or sought interns taken by other sites.

Read a few examples of success stories in our January 2007 and March 2005 issues.

The Match for beginners

Looking for basic info about internships and the Match? Visit our Match primer and APPIC's FAQ.