Internships are designed to provide students with practical experience in work settings where their knowledge of psychology is applied. Interns serve in community agencies, schools, hospitals, clinics, businesses and other similar organizations. Interns communicate regularly throughout the semester with the faculty member directing the program in order to share their experiences. The Internship Director for Psychology is Dr. Danielle Findley-Van Nostrand, email@example.com, office 509-B Life Science, office phone 540-375-2477.
Interested in an Internship?
Step 1: Decide if an internship is right for you (hint: it probably is!). Regardless of whether you are planning on entering a career or pursuing graduate studies, internship experiences are highly valued and increase your competitiveness. You can gain interpersonal helping and communication skills, job preparation and insight into careers, network, and practice applying psychological principles. And, credit earned counts as an elective in the major or minor, and can also be used to satisfy the Intensive Learning (May Term) requirement.
Step 2: Make contact with potential internship sites. Sites can be local or not, and experiences can span across many areas related to psychology, like helping professions, business settings, and research settings, among others. Strategies for searching for an internship will differ some depending on whether you are seeking local or longer-distance experiences. You may also talk to Career Services. We can also help you work on how to professionally communicate with sites, and give you ideas for types of places to look.
Step 3: Secure an internship. Internship sites need to have a supervisor who agrees to the hour requirement (see FAQs), works with you to formulate learning objectives for your experience, and agrees to evaluate your work during/after the experience.
Step 4: Apply for internship credit. Once you have an internship site secured, you will need to complete learning agreements (one for you, and one for the site supervisor), have them signed, and return them to Dr. Findley-Van Nostrand. Registration for the credit is handled on our end. However, there are extra steps if applying to substitute for a May Term.
Step 5: Gain valuable experience as an intern. During your internship, complete reflections and check-ins with internship coordinator.
Step 6: At completion of internship, write reflection paper. You will be provided with prompts for the paper.
Step 7: Present a poster about your experience at the Psychology Department’s end of semester research and internship poster session. If you complete a summer internship, this will happen at the end of Fall. Otherwise it will be at the end of the semester in which you were an intern.
Step 8: Congratulations! Add your internship experience and the skills you gained to your Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV).
- Where? Sites can be local, or at home.
- Who? Any level student can complete an internship.
- Supervisors? Site supervisors do not need to be licensed psychologists—our majors work in a variety of fields!
- When? Internships can take place during the Fall/Spring, or during the summer. Summer internship credits are offered at a reduced rate ($400), and if staying local, you can also have free housing.
- Fall/Spring deadlines: Internship registration must be complete by the end of the drop/add period.
- Summer deadlines: May 15 is the deadline to apply for the summer internships program.
- 0.5 or 1 unit? The half unit requires a 60 hour commitment whereas the full unit requires a 120 hour commitment over the span of the experience.
- Applying to substitute for May Term requirement? Talk to the Internship Coordinator for additional requirements.
Comments from recent interns
- "It was such a learning experience, not only through observation but also real hands-on. It was very useful in helping me learn about real applications of psychology."
- "The internship gave me a wealth of examples of careers in psychology. It reinforced my desire to work with children in a helping profession."
- "I think everyone should do an internship. The 'real world' is a lot different than college. Why not have a head start?'
- "This internship was probably the best thing I did at college. It was certainly the most fun and rewarding. I would recommend an internship for anyone who really wants to know more about what they think they want to do. It could make a big difference in your future."
- "It was a great opportunity to try out a possible career before you are actually in the real world. My internship helped me reevaluate my career choice and I realized that another career path would be more rewarding. I'm glad I had a chance to discover this while I was still in college."
Value of Internships
Internships are recommended for students who plan to seek employment with their Bachelor of Arts degree. According to the recent article, "How Do I Maximize My Chances of Getting a Good Job with an Undergraduate Psychology Degree?" (Morgan & Korschgen, 1998, Eye on Psi Chi, 3(1), pp 27-28):
"Internships enable you to gain relevant work experience before you graduate, they provide you with employers who are often willing to give you strong recommendations, and they enable you to think through your career options and learn about the atmosphere of a work environment. ... Overall, they enhance your marketability. We know of many employers who will not even consider a recent graduate for employment unless she or he has had an internship while they were an undergraduate"
Internships are also recommended for students who plan to pursue a Master's degree in counseling psychology, social work, industrial-organizational psychology, human resource management, or any area of human development. Your application to graduate school will be enhanced if you can demonstrate that you have knowledge of and commitment to the field you plan to enter.