Demystifying the Audiology Externship Process: Finding, Applying for, and Choosing an Externship

The externship application process requires a significant amount of planning and organization and is often a source of anxiety for the AuD candidate. In this post, I will break down the application process—from finding open placements to organizing your application materials to interviewing to accepting an offer—by providing my personal experience and tips for each stage of the application cycle.

Finding a Placement: Where to Start

There are a few key questions to ask yourself before you begin the actual application process.

Where do I find externship placements?

Most sites will begin posting their externship openings during the summer of the application cycle. The platforms that I used the most to find externship placements were HearCareers on the American Academy of Audiology website, the Association of VA Audiologists (AVAA) website, and the 4th Year Audiology Externships Facebook group. If you are a student who wishes to stay near your university, you might consider looking for openings at your current or previous clinical rotations. A relatively recent addition to externship search platforms is the American Institute of Balance (AIB) externship matching program, which requires a candidate to fill out a survey with their primary clinical interests, and AIB will place the candidate in contact with clinics who are looking for externs that meet their criteria.

How do I determine which externships to apply to?

There are several things you should consider:

  • What types of environments do you see yourself working in? Are you looking for something that does a little bit of everything, or do you primarily want to dispense hearing aids?
  • Where do you want to work after graduating, and is there an opportunity to continue working her for full-time employment post-externship?
  • Do you want a paid externship position?
  • Do you want to be in a specific location?
  • Are there any personal life considerations that will influence where you apply?

What exactly do I want in an externship?

I know that I want to eventually work in an academic environment, and I wanted an externship that would make me the most marketable to academic institutions. I did not apply for any unpaid externships, and I was looking for a position that would allow me to balance my professional and personal life. I also knew that I wanted to move somewhere new that had lots to offer outside of work. I kept a mental checklist of these things when scouting for open positions, and I did not apply to any externships that did not meet these criteria.

How many externships should I apply to?

You will also need to decide how many externships you will apply to. There is no “gold standard” for this, but the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) Externship Guide [PDF] reports the majority of students apply to between five and 10 externships. Keep in mind: This does not guarantee that you will receive more offers. I applied to 12 externships and received five offers.

Organizing Your Application Materials

The majority of clinics will require a curriculum vitae (CV), a cover letter, and three recommendation letters. Pay very close attention to each clinic’s requirements, as they are not always the same. I created a filing system to stay organized that included

  • a copy of all required materials;
  • an Excel document with each clinic name, address, and point of contact; and
  • a list of the people whom I intended to ask to write recommendation letters.


By this point, you may have a CV instead of a resume. A curriculum vitae, or CV, is a longer, more exhaustive list of everything you have done—it includes your education, clinic rotations, honors and awards, research participation, extracurricular activities, and so forth. You should also include details about your capstone project. Consider asking classmates and faculty members to review your CV and provide comments or edits. ASHA also has developed this helpful resource for writing a CV.

Cover Letters

Externship sites will also want a cover letter, letter of interest, or personal statement. This document should expand on your CV and should illustrate to the reader why you are the best fit for the open externship position. When I was writing my letters, I always searched for the clinic’s mission statement and found a way to incorporate it into my letter. For example, “The XYZ Clinic’s mission to _____ is of particular interest to me because ____.”

In general, your cover letter should be about one page (four to five paragraphs). Here’s a writing formula that worked for me:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and why you are applying.
  • Paragraph 2: Highlight clinical experiences and how they relate to this specific externship.
  • Paragraph 3: Include additional relevant experience (e.g., NSSLHA, SAA, research, volunteer, etc.).
  • Paragraph 4: Provide a wrap-up summary, and advocate for why you are the best student for this position.
  • Paragraph 5: “I sincerely hope that you will consider me for this position, and I look forward to hearing from you.”

Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters will typically come from current or previous clinical supervisors and/or faculty members. Pay close attention to each clinic’s requirements, as some will want a specific combination of letters from clinical versus academic faculty. Externships will also specify whether these letters should come directly from the writers or if you can submit them with your application packet. I tried to choose letter writers whom I felt would paint the best picture of me as a student, researcher, and clinician. I enlisted a few writers who could speak to my academic performance, another who could vouch for my research participation, and others who could attest to my clinical abilities and approach to patient care. You should also investigate whether any of your faculty have connections with the sites to which you are applying—connections go a very long way in our field!

When I completed my application materials, I saved them into one PDF document for easy submission and viewing. This way, externships could see my application materials in one place. You can find examples of CVs and cover letters in the SAA Externship Guide.


Interviews are one of the most difficult parts of the externship process, but I also found them to be the most enjoyable. Interviews can take place in a variety of modalities, including telephone, virtual, or in-person. They may also range from one-on-one interviews to panel-style interviews, and you should be prepared to undergo multiple rounds of interviews for one position.

Always keep in mind that you are interviewing each clinic as much as they are interviewing you. Always be prepared to ask questions at the end if you are prompted: This shows that you are proactive, interested in the position, and motivated to find out more information.

Interview questions will largely consist of clinic scenarios as well as personality-based questions that allow your interviewers to get to know you as a person. Competency-based questions will likely be centered around audiogram interpretation, pathologies, counseling, and device candidacy and selection. When practicing and preparing for interviews, the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique is an easy way to break down interview questions and ensure that your responses include the information that your interviewers are seeking Interviewing is a skill that requires a lot of practice, but your university may provide mock interviews that will help you become more comfortable and confident.

“Clinical Fellowships and Externships: Put Your Best Foot Forward” is a virtual event, recently hosted by NSSLHA, that discusses additional considerations for application materials and interviewing—as well as determining whether the position you are considering will fit into what you are actually looking for in an externship. 

Accepting and Rejecting Offers

There are a few steps to take before accepting your offer. First, develop a list of places you are considering as “finalists.” Second, rank-order your potential externship sites. These rankings will likely change throughout the entire application cycle but will be based on what each place has to offer, and whether you think the employer would give you a sense of belonging in the position. The rankings will help you reach your final decision regarding where you will spend your last year of graduate school. After you complete your list and your rankings, it’s time to accept an offer!

To accept an offer, follow the instructions that the hiring manager provided. In my experience, a simple email explicitly stating that you are accepting the offer will be sufficient. When rejecting an offer, you never need to provide a reason. Instead, respond courteously, and thank them for their time and consideration. Here are some appropriate response examples:

Accepting an Offer
“Dear ______,
Thank you so much for your invitation to join XYZ for the externship position. I am emailing you to formally accept the offer, and I look forward to working with you.”

Rejecting an Offer
“Dear ______,
Thank you so much for your consideration. Unfortunately, I am unable to accept your offer at this time. I wish you the best of luck in your search for an externship candidate.”


Applying to externships is a long process that consists of finding open positions, determining which positions to apply to, organizing materials, interviewing, and choosing a placement. Don’t be afraid to ask your faculty members or other AuD students for help. And use these tips as practice for your next big task—finding your first job after graduation. It’ll be here before you know it!

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