By Mallory Even, LPMT, MT-BC

We all know the route to becoming an MT-BC. There is no way around the 6-month clinical internship, and I am so glad it is this way! We all need the field training to put our book knowledge to use, and to also figure out who we are and what we want to do as music therapists. Internship is a critical time in a music therapy student’s life when they get to go out in the field and become independent in a safe and supervised environment.

When I started my college experience at Florida State University in 2001, I declared Music Education as my major – I wanted to be a band director and a darn good one! During one of my freshman courses, Dr. Jayne Standley came to speak to our class about the research she was doing in the NICU as a music therapist; this was the first time I had ever heard of the field, and long story short, I changed my major that day and never looked back!

We know that the field of music therapy is gaining more and more recognition these days, which is leading to more entry level freshmen declaring music therapy as their major (hooray!). The problem is that the number of current nationwide internship sites cannot keep up with the number of internship-eligible students the colleges and universities are pumping out every year. Applying for an internship in 2015 is a much more competitive and completely different experience than it was for me and my fellow students 15 years ago.

Simply stated: we need more internship programs to maintain the growth of our profession!

What can we do? Over the years, I have had several students approach me about interning with Metro. The easy answer for me was, “We are not a national roster site, sorry!” But more and more students would come back saying, “My professor would love to affiliate with you!” and thus began the MMT Internship Program. We are now affiliated with University of Georgia, Florida State University, University of Alabama, and have had internship applications from students that are enrolled in colleges all over the southeast region (side note: if we are not already affiliated with a prospective intern’s college, we complete that process if and when that intern is chosen for our program).

If you are on the fence about starting an internship program within your practice or program, I would encourage you to honestly answer the following questions before committing:

1)     Am I passionate about teaching students? If you cannot answer this with an enthusiastic “YES!” then I would hang tight on creating your program until you can! I view starting an internship program as being similar to deciding on whether or not to add another member to your family. This is not a short-term commitment, and it should be taken very seriously by you and your team.

2)     Do we have enough team members to responsibly supervise an intern 40 hours a week for 6 months? I could not say “yes” to this for the first few years of Metro being in business, which is why I held off for a while. Alone, I could not physically spend enough time with an intern to make it be the experience they needed. Guess what? I still can’t! But I have a FABULOUS team who helps me with our interns, and it works for everyone! (Our interns LOVE being able to work with multiple supervisors and within multiple sites/populations).

3)     Is this something I see myself or my company doing for years to come? Once you start, it’s hard to stop! Students will see and hear about the awesome program you have in place, and will start applying for your next open position(s). If you cannot make this time commitment (and financial commitment – email me if you want more info on this!), then I would recommend waiting to start your program. The first year we took interns, we had one student apply. The next year we had 3, and then 7, and at this point in time, we have already heard from a handful of students that are waiting to get their applications in for our Fall 2016 internship start date! It snowballs, so be prepared!

4)     If you answered “yes” to all of the above, you need to decide on an AMTA National Roster Internship Program or a University Affiliated Internship Program. You can find out all of the info for the National Roster Internship Application process here. You should know that this application process is lengthy, and it takes a while to get approved … I would plan on a least a year before you can get any interns in your program! University Affiliated internships are just that – an agreement is made between your practice/program and the University. Typically, each University has an MOU that they will need you to sign, and I have a document that our interns sign as an agreement between themselves and MMT.

If you decide that starting an internship program is the right thing for your company or program, know that you are helping the field of music therapy in ways that will have a long-lasting effect! We have really enjoyed having interns with us at Metro, and by inviting students into our company we have learned so much about ourselves not only as individuals, but also as a team.

Owner & Director, Metro Music Therapy | Atlanta & Orlando
Licensed Professional Music Therapist
Music Therapist-Board Certified
Certified NICU Music Therapist