My Journey Thus Far

In an effort for you all to get to know me better I’m going to share with you my journey as a child life student thus far.

I began college at Missouri State University in the Fall of 2011. It wasn’t until the Spring of 2012 that I declared my major as Child and Family Development with an Emphasis in Child Life. After declaring my major I began taking basic development courses. I am very fortunate that my university has Certified Child Life Specialists¬†on staff as our advisors and professors as well as offers many courses taught by Certified Child Life Specialists. The courses that I took that were taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist¬†and required for my graduation are: Childhood Illness Disease Injury and Disorder, Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect, Principles of Development in Early Childhood, Working with the Hospitalized Child, Therapeutic Play, and Child Life Theory and Practice.

In the Summer of 2015 I completed the most amazing practicum in Cape Town, South Africa. Myself, 11 other students, and 2 of our professors and Certified Child Life Specialists spent 3 weeks completing a practicum in Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital. I could go on forever about how incredible my experience was, but if you all want to hear about that I can make a separate post. ūüôā

After I returned from South Africa I began preparing my internship applications for the Spring 2016. To give you all an idea of my experience, prior to applying I had completed all of my 10 required courses, a 100-hour practicum observed by a Certified Child Life Specialist, 170 volunteer hours in two different hospitals, and 3,000+ hours with well children. I applied to 17 sites and received 4 interviews with no offers.

I.  was.  devastated

After not receiving an offer I knew that I had to do something in the mean time of applying again to gain more experience and beef up my resume. I decided that I wanted to complete a second practicum. Since my practicum experience was international, I felt that completing a practicum in the United States as well would set me apart. Deciding that I wanted to complete another practicum was much easier than finding one. Unfortunately the majority of practicum sites follow the same application dates as internship applications. I spent hours upon hours searching every children’s hospital in surrounding states to see if they offered a practicum and if their application dates had passed.

After my lengthy search I found two hospitals who’s application dates had not passed yet, Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, and The Children’s Hospital at St. Francis in Tulsa, Oklahoma. With Little Rock being about 4 hours away from Springfield, and Tulsa being about 3 hours away from Springfield, I knew that if I wanted to do this I was going to have to be creative in order to make it work.

I ended up receiving the practicum at Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock. I was so excited! Now came the tricky part, where was I going to stay, was I going to move out of my apartment in Springfield and move to Little Rock?

Luckily I nanny for a wonderful family who was willing to work with me on what days I worked so that I was able to travel back and forth from Little Rock to Springfield. I decided that it would be best for me to continue to work and stay in a hotel when I was in Little Rock.

Here was my weekly schedule for 12 weeks:

Mondays: Nanny from 7:30 am-5:30 pm

Tuesdays: Nanny from 7:30 am-5:30 pm

Wednesdays: Nanny from 7:30 am-5:30 pm, then drive 4 hours to Little Rock

Thursday: Practicum from 9:30am-2:30pm

Friday: Practicum from 9:30 am- 2:30 pm, then drive 4 hours back to Springfield

Saturday & Sunday: Try to relax, complete practicum assignments and run errands

While completing my practicum at Arkansas Children’s I decided that I was going to apply to a few hospitals for summer internships. I applied to 7 hospitals and received 1 interview¬†with again no offers. However, I was in the top 5 at the hospital that I interviewed at, but they were only taking 3 interns.

Again, I was devastated. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I still was hopeful. Now I realize how extremely difficult it would have been for me to complete my practicum at Arkansas Children’s while trying to figure out living situations as well as everything else that comes along with an internship.

So again I began to yet again prepare my applications. The third time around I applied to 12 hospitals. Two hospitals emailed me saying that they were no longer taking interns, which then dwindled my hospital count to 10. Out of those I received 2 interviews……(read on to find out if I received any offers)

12 weeks, 123 practicum hours, and over 5,00 miles driven I completed my practicum at Arkansas Children’s Hospital!

In this blog I’m not going to sugar coat anything, so I will say that those three months were exhausting!¬†However, I wouldn’t take back that experience for the world. I learned so much from the specialists and patients that I was able to work with.

Fast forward to the present, I was offered and accepted an internship at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee! I am so grateful for this opportunity and proud of myself for all of the work that I put forth to get myself here.

Lesson to all of you: “Nothing worth having comes easy”

I can promise you that working extremely hard toward your goal will make reaching it so much sweeter!

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!




Who am I?

My name is Jenna Goodall and I am currently a student at Missouri State University and aspiring child life specialist. When searching for child life blogs, I found many blogs with a lot of great information but none that I could really relate to. Unfortunately the child life world is very competitive, and the journey can be complicated for students. This blog is my way of sharing my personal journey with other child life students in a effort to give another perspective in the increasingly competitive world of volunteering, practicums, and internships.