This past Monday I had my interview at VFMC for the summer unit of CPE (clinical pastoral education), which is considered to be an internship. The yearlong program starting in the fall is considered to be a residency and, according to the woman who interviewed me, I probably don’t have enough education completed for that, though the Sati Center’s program might suffice; it’s a little hard to sort out in the case of a Buddhist student.
I had been practicing and practicing my answers to eight likely questions and got to deliver two of them, but for the most part, my interviewer asked me to expand on things that had been in my essays, so I got to talk about myself for the better part of an hour, always an agreeable pastime.
I’d asked Ann Marie if I could take my jacket off after arriving and she hesitated before saying that if the interviewer was dressed casually, I could ask for permission to partially disrobe: “I’m feeling rather warm—would you mind if I took off my jacket?” Fortunately, the room we met in was quite chilly, so I had only one hot flash, and I ended up being glad that I’d made all that effort in regard to the jacket (and my ladylike new purse), because my interviewer was wearing a black jacket, which she kept on throughout, and when I asked her what a CPE student wears, she said—alas—“The way you’re dressed is appropriate.”
VFMC has four campuses, two I could walk to and two rather far away, including one clear across town, but both of the latter can be reached by bus. They would decide where to place me partly based on the population I want to work with and, I imagine, on their needs, as well.
I was a little disheartened to learn that I might not have enough education to be accepted into VFMC’s yearlong CPE program, and so was very pleased to find out that this doesn’t seem to be a consideration at TWMC, where I interviewed the following day. My chaplaincy classmate Sam said they didn’t seem to care much about this when they interviewed him, either.
He has been accepted into TWMC’s yearlong program and he’s really excited about it. Based on that, and based on my own communications with them, they are my first choice, so it was very lucky that the other interview was the day before—practice beforehand, and also practice in wearing a dress jacket, which you wouldn’t think would have much effect on anything, but somehow it does, as does carrying a purse. Like, it’s somehow harder to get on a bus wearing a jacket and carrying a purse. So by Tuesday, I was an old hand at both, and I really liked the two people who interviewed me, and we had a lovely conversation, again mostly based on their questions pertaining to my essays.
There was a man and a woman, and the man, in particular, several times pointed out a correspondence between two aspects of my experience that I hadn’t noticed. He did this in a very warm and kind manner and I finally realized that he was being a chaplain to me, and that he must be a really excellent chaplain.
Several times they both smiled and nodded after I answered a question, as if I’d given the exact response they were hoping for. One question was about a new role I might like to try on in a peer group. When I couldn’t think of anything, they both looked glum, which was kind of sweet. I think that was the only thing they seemed disappointed about, and, even better, it sounds as if my chances of getting into their yearlong program are better than my chances of doing their summer program. For one thing, there are more slots in the yearlong program. Also, there is a school in Berkeley that requires its students to do a summer CPE program, which helps fill up the summer programs. More on this interview next time.