Rikki Lieberth

Your externship can be one of the most valuable parts of your education.

It provides the final link between your education and your future career, building a bridge between school and the world of work. Take advantage of this exciting phase of your education to do the following:

  • Apply the skills learned in class in real life situations.
  • Gain confidence in performing these skills.
  • Learn the expectations of employers.
  • Practice working with patients.
  • Think and problem-solve in real-life situations.
  • Gain a better idea of what kind of job you would like after graduation.
  • Demonstrate your abilities to a potential employer (many times students are hired to work at their externship site after graduation).

A successful externship requires your full attention and effort. Some students make the mistake of thinking that this part of their education is just one more assignment. But nothing could be further from the truth! During your externship, you will deal with real people and real problems. At this time, you will begin to establish your professional reputation and influence your ability to get a job. The dental world is a small one!

The first days of your externship can be busy and stressful. Put your best foot forward and be patient with yourself. It takes time to make the adjustment from school to a workplace. As an intern, you may not be 100% confident of your abilities and feel a little anxious about your skills. Offices enjoy when you are not afraid to get in there and get your feet wet. Keep in mind that no one expects you to know everything.

There are three actions you can take to help you get a good start:

1. Shift your focus to the goals and needs of others: the employer, the patients, and your co-workers.

2. Develop and maintain a positive attitude.

3. Make a good first impression! 

4. Learn all you can about the externship site and your duties.

It is critical that you arrive on time to your externship site, especially on your first day, this is your first impression.  Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early on that first day. If you haven’t been to the location already, figure out how to get there and how long it takes prior to your first day.

Introduce yourself to anyone you don’t know, and be kind and helpful to everyone at your site, and lastly, remember to be positive.

Good luck!