Stop giving others credit for your work. It is a common pitfall – especially if you consider gender dynamics (see: Stop Negotiating Like a Girl) but there’s no reason to be passive about your achievements. Let’s pretend the following is an excerpt from a statement of purpose or cover letter:
I had the opportunity to shadow Jane Doe, SLP-CCC at Smith Regional Hospital. There, I was able to visit with patients and learn more about their experiences.
You “had the opportunity” to shadow? The way the sentence is written, you are a passive participant. Someone gave you the opportunity, when in reality you probably sought it out. I would bet that you are a motivated applicant (you’re here, aren’t you?) and you worked to get your foot in the door.
Part of showcasing your shadowing experience is also highlighting your motivation to learn. Try:
I shadowed Jane Doe, SLP-CCC at Smith Regional Hospital. Afterwards, I reflected on my interactions with patients and that reinforced my desire to be a speech-language pathologist in a medical setting.
In one version you got lucky and someone let you into a room to talk with patients. Snooze. In another, you sought an opportunity to educate yourself and then used it to purposefully enhance your clinical practice.
Which do you think an admissions council or employer wants?
One way to claim ownership is to write in the active voice. Make yourself the subject and pack in action verbs. See what I mean here:
The point of this isn’t to make you a grammar nerd, but to help you understand how to avoid passive voice because it gives away your power. Let’s try this again:
My university offers courses in dysphagia which taught me how to diagnose and treat swallowing disorders.
I implemented knowledge learned in academic coursework related diagnosing and treating dysphagia into clinical practice.
Much better. Ready, set, write!