Field Placement: Finding Your Fit – Part 2

What am I supposed to do?

What if you do everything right – ask all of the right questions, attend an interview, meet the person who will be supervising you – and you find yourself feeling less than thrilled with your placement?  Regardless of how long your placement experience might be, you want to ensure that it is as productive and positive as possible.   Here are a few things you can do if your placement isn’t going quite as well as you had hoped.

  1. Give it an honest chance. Look at the total time you will be in your field placement and compare it to how much time you’ve actually spent in it. Often, I find students expect to jump into the deep end of the pool and don’t fully appreciate that the field placement host needs time to get to know you and what you are capable of.  For example, if you will be spending 280 hours at your placement and you’re feeling let down after only 28 hours, you may be judging your placement prematurely.
  2. Ignore Facebook and other social media! EVERYTHING that is posted these days is filtered to look wonderful.  Do not judge your placement experience by what your peers are posting about their placement experiences.  It’s a dangerous trap to fall into and it won’t change your circumstances.  It will just make you feel worse and who needs that?
  3. Do everything in a quality way. No matter how basic or repetitive initial tasks might be, approach them with a positive attitude and try not to look like you would rather be picking fuzz off of your old sweaters.  Remember, how you approach the tasks you are given can be just as important as how well you complete the tasks.  Why would anyone invest time and energy into someone who comes across as disinterested and bored?

If you have completed approximately one quarter of your placement (in the example above, 70-hours) and things aren’t great, it’s time to take decisive action!

  1. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Though you may not know how to approach your placement supervisor about the situation, they are not mind readers.  When asked, many students readily admitted that they hadn’t talked to anyone about their concerns. Your college placement contact can help you develop practical strategies, and your field placement supervisor will likely be pleased to know you would like to take on more challenging tasks.    You have nothing to lose by communicating and everything to gain!

Occasionally, field placement hosts don’t deliver what they promised – sometimes because of circumstances beyond their control and sometimes because they didn’t plan properly.   If the challenges you are having in your field placement are serious, speaking with your college contact as soon as possible is the best course of action: you need to know what your options are.  The sooner you do this, the better you will feel.  Your situation is more likely to improve when you make things happen rather than waiting for things to happen to you! 

You have to be willing to ask for what you want if you expect to get it.


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Kathleen Stewart

Parent, cart-wheeler, teacher, marathoner.

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