By Samantha Holdren (Clinical Liaison)
Hello all and welcome to my internship application journey during the year of COVID-19!
This is one strange, unpredictable year, and I have a feeling internship applications and interviews this year are going to reflect that. So I wanted to give you all a step-by-step discussion of my process as I apply and interview this year, with all the nitty-gritty details of what I do each week to prepare and how everything turns out. Since this blog is starting the first week of September and I have already done prep work over the summer, I will fill you in on that first. But thereafter, each week I will cover what I have done for the week and what my goals are for the next week. First, let me tell you a bit about my background, what my ultimate goal is regarding sites, and the specifications I am looking for during this process.
My background: I am in the clinical psychology program at Sam Houston State University, which is extremely forensic focused. I have done my practicums at the Psychological Services Center (PSC; community clinic), Walker County Probation Department, and Austin State Hospital (ASH). I have had the opportunity to do many competency and sanity evaluations through the clinic, and I have done several risk assessments through ASH. I have participated in two Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) evaluations, and I have done therapy primarily with legally involved individuals, many of whom had trauma histories and personality psychopathology. My research has focused on sex offender evaluations, particularly SVP evaluations, and how race effects evaluator decision-making.
What I want out of internship:
What I have done thus far:
Happy Monday, everyone! This week's newest blog entry is by Dr. Heidi Strohmaier, PhD. Coming from a traditionally forensic PhD program, Dr. Strohmaier matched to her first choice site at the Tampa VA for the 2014-2015 internship year. Here she offers general internship application tips as well as some advice on how to change gears if you are looking to match at a site that differs from your previous focus area.
Applying for internship is stressful. There is no way around that. Taking a methodical approach and practicing some good self-care can make this exciting and overwhelming process substantially more manageable. I matched to the general track of a large VA hospital for my predoctoral internship and am now a postdoctoral fellow in primary care/health psychology at a large metropolitan teaching hospital. Although I specialized in forensic psychology during graduate school and was tempted to pursue a more traditional forensic route for internship, I ultimately decided it was in my best interest to seek a generalized internship program to prepare me for a flexible and well-rounded career. Below are a few tips I believe helped me maintain my sanity and achieve success in the dreaded internship match process. Although much of this feedback is broad, some of it will be particularly relevant to those interested in applying to internship sites outside the forensic realm or to sites that otherwise represent a change in direction from your graduate area of focus:
Good luck and take care of yourself! You have come so far and are almost at the end of your graduate training. There is a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Congratulations on getting this far.
It is almost October, and while our friends are enjoying the return of comfortable sweaters and pumpkin spiced everything, many of us in clinical programs are becoming increasingly aware of internship deadlines. Our newest blog features internship advice from a very special guest contributor. Dr. Sharon Kelley, JD, PhD matched to her first choice of the Univ of Mass Medical School/Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital for the 2013-2014 internship year. She then went on to complete a post-doctoral position at the University of Virginia's Institute for Psychiatry, Public Policy, and Law; and is currently a Research Associate in Law and Forensic Psychology at IPPL.
Happy Internship Season!
I was in your shoes three year ago, and am now attempting to pull together some useful advice for those of you in the middle of the process. Disclaimer: My experience might not map on perfectly to your experience. I think that’s ok. There are a lot of ways to be successful in applying for/matching at fantastic internship sites. That’s a long way of saying that if you don’t like my advice, you simply need not take it, and you will likely find success nonetheless.
Point 1: Get excited!
I began this post with Happy Internship Season deliberately. I mean these words genuinely (well, 85% genuinely—this is a stressful time and we all need to acknowledge that): You are preparing to take a substantial step in your careers, and you will handle the hard work, travel logistics, and frustration of waiting that comes over the next several months if you can muster up some excitement! You are almost a doctor, for crying out loud.
Point 2: Get realistic
Alright, now that you’re an excited and passionate internship applicant, it’s time to get real. This means different things for different people. It may mean that you have some geographic limitations, it might mean that feeling excited and passionate led you to identify 35 internship sites—and that’s just too many. It also means that you’re going to set aside some money for the next few months of your life. Here are some getting real tips:
Point 3: Get to Work
You’re good at this part! Put down those lab projects, manuscripts, and dissertations (temporarily) and write your essays and cover letters! Here are some tips for this part of the process:
Point 4: Don’t forget to have fun
Remember, this is an opportunity for you to find a great internship match for your training needs. And, not matching is not the end of the world. It’s simply an opportunity to take a step back, reflect on the process, and take another year to make your application even stronger –you’ll still be doing good work in the field that you chose. So, have fun with the process: you’ll be meeting other internship applicants, clinicians, and scholars outside of your graduate institution. Talking with these folks can be revitalizing. Get out of your head and enjoy yourself.
About the Editor:
The American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of the American Psychology Association) Student Committee is composed of elected student leaders representing the interests of our student members.