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A psychology internship refers to several types of preparatory work environments that are suited to some, but not all preparation levels. Before graduate school, some people complete internships of variable length and locations. They may be of use for students wishing to construct more competitive graduate school applications. Other internships are broken down into pre-doctoral or post-doctoral studies, and they may offer a variety of different focuses, which help people determine the best ones. Considerations people might want to have about any and all of these are suitability to training level, degree of match with career goals, and individual features like compensation, supervision and support.
Suitability to training level is important when evaluating a psychology internship. People need to identify those programs for which they are qualified, and shouldn’t waste time applying to any programs for which they are under or over-prepared. An internship can have several goals, and where this may most matter is when people are attempting to complete the required hours for licensing. This is usually for post-doctoral students only, and students should verify that any internship they consider provides necessary levels of supervision and is approved by the region’s psychology licensing board.
No matter the educational level, it’s naturally wise to try to choose internship programs that are a good fit with career or study interests. Pre-graduate students may have the most flexibility because they can pursue an internship to determine what their interests are. Pre-doctoral students taking time off before writing a dissertation might want to get experience principally in the area in which they plan to write dissertations, and internships can inform later research. Those at the doctoral level should probably choose working conditions where they can practice what they’ll do as soon as they’re licensed. Those interested in counseling would want to counsel people as much as possible in an internship.
Psychology internship programs should also be assessed individually. Factors such as stipend, location and schedule should be considered when selecting a psychology internship.
Any interviews for a psychology internship should also be seen as a two-way street. During the interview, try to ascertain if the staff is running a program that will be beneficial, and not glorified secretarial work. Figuring out this question can be difficult and it can be useful to get a list of people who have completed the internship in the past and speak with them about their experiences. All people search for the most supportive environments where they can learn and use those skills to later perform their work, and thus it’s vital that any staff is supportive in this endeavor.
There are a few books on obtaining a psychology internship that may be of use. Licensing organizations have tips too. These may suggest what internships to look for and advise on how to be successful in getting hired as an intern.
I think that students in psychology programs should definitely pursue internships in their particular area of interest. For example, if a psychology student wants to do drug and alcohol counseling when he or she graduates, an internship in this particular area will provide valuable experience. In addition, sticking with an internship that is similar to what a student wants to do when he or she graduates will give the student a glimpse into what his or her future career will be like.
A good place to start when looking for a psychology internship is at the college or university where a student is participating in the psychology program. There is no one who is more knowledgeable about these types of internships than the student's course advisor.
When a psychology student consults with his or her advisor, he or she will be able to talk about available internships in the field. In turn, the advisor will be able to guide the student to the best internship to meet his or her current coursework needs and future career experience requirements.
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