Have you finally decided that you want to major in psychology? Is understanding mental processes and human behavior your biggest passion? Do you aspire to have a career similar to inspiring psychology professionals? If you know that you want to be a psychology major, but you are not sure what you want to do with your degree, completing an internship can help you decide what type of career you want to pursue and what environment you would enjoy working in.
While the word psychology is quite powerful, it can also mean a lot of things depending on your education and career goals. Contemporary psychology has many outlets and there are many paths that aspiring professionals can take. You can pursue a variety of different psychology-related professions from being a vocational counselor to working in the field of sports psychology, but what is interesting to one student may not be interesting to the next. Not only do many psychology programs for earning a degree have an internship requirement that must be satisfied before you can graduate, being an intern can truly help you identify the career path that is best for you.
There are several different internship opportunities posted by health care centers and organizations on an annual basis. While it is important to apply for these opportunities well in advance so that you can compete with other students, you need to identify which internships would be best when you are earning a degree in Psychology. The best internship opportunity is one that will familiarize you with the work environment, your obligations, your responsibilities, and the work hours you will have in the field. Read on to learn about the types of internships that Psychology Degree Majors often apply for.
Types of Internships You Can Apply For
Applying for an internship at the Department of Psychiatry with your university may seem like an obvious choice when you want to become a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but there are other less competitive options when you do not plan on pursuing a PhD. In addition to the psychology internships that are available for graduate students, there are also other opportunities that will prepare undergraduates for the real world or graduate school. You can work for a government agency, a school, or even in a private clinic to gain skills that you will use as a psychology professional. Continue reading to learn about some of the various types of internships for those in a psychology program that may be available in your area.
Working in a Mental Health Facility and Becoming a Patient Advocate
As an intern for psychology major working in a mental health facility, you’d have the amazing opportunity to advocate for people who may not be able to speak up for themselves. Sadly, many individuals in mental health facilities don’t have anyone on their sides, and doctors and nurses are often too overwhelmed to attend to each patient’s needs. Patients will often be suffering from personality disorders, mental illness, or other mental health conditions. They could use someone to advocate for their well being. As an advocate, you could work closely with different patients to determine which treatment options, changes in their personal lives, and resources could make a big difference in the patient’s life.
Working in a High School or College Setting to Consult Students on Career and Degree Options
If you have a passion for helping young people and personal growth, you may be interested in working in a high school or college career center. As a career counselor, you can mentor high school or college students to help them find a career path that motivates them. After discussing various career options, you would also need to explain the educational and degree requirements to achieve each position the student may be interested in.
Working with a Vocational Counselor at a Vocational School
Finding an intern for psychology major with a vocational school can help you decide if being a vocational counselor is a career path you’d like to pursue. As a vocational counselor intern, you’ll assist with interview and testing individuals to help them find the right job to match their interests and abilities.
Working with Professional Sports Teams to Become a Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists look for ways to help athletes improve their performance in their sport by improving their psychological well-being. Finding an internship position with a professional sports team and working alongside sports psychologists will help you see the important role the mental well-being plays in helping athletes perform at peak levels.
Working in a Private Practice to Learn About the Environment and Duties
Environmental psychologists have an important job. They look at the interactions between different groups of people as well as how people are interacting with and effecting the environment. An environmental psychologist conducts research to help politicians enact policies that will have a positive impact on our climate, environment, and interactions with individuals from other cultures. An intern for psychology major working with other environmental psychologists will be able to gain invaluable hands-on experience. You may help with conducting research or drafting policy proposals.
Working with Lawyers in a Criminal Justice Department to Become a Forensic Psychologist
Another intern for psychology major that you may want to consider is to work at a local criminal justice department and the forensics unit. A forensics unit is responsible for analyzing crime scenes and other evidence to find evidence to prosecute a case. As an intern, some of your duties may include assisting the scientists and writing up reports, conducting research, assisting with analyzing evidence or determine motives, or other administrative duties.
Working as a Social Work Intern with Families and Children in Need
Social workers serve a critical purpose and greatly benefit society. If you have an interest in child psychology, you may be interested in social work. They work closely with families and children to make sure their needs are being met and teach them strategies to overcome challenges they may be facing. If pursuing a career in social work is something you want to do, finding a position as a social work intern can help you gain knowledge and experience for your future career. You will have the opportunity to work with children and their families and make a real difference during your time as an intern. You may also gain experience writing up reports, devising your own solutions to share with families, and working as a team to develop the best approach to various situations.
Working as a Research Assistant
Many psychology careers involve conducting research of one kind or another. There are endless types of research methods regarding human behavior, social behavior, brain function, mental processes, etc. Since there are so many researchers, you may be able to find an internship as a research assistant. As a research assistant, your internship duties may include assisting with a scientific study, interviewing participants, studying research subjects, and writing reports about the findings. Getting the opportunity to work with experienced researchers can help you learn more about what the position entails and allow you to decide if it is something you want to pursue after graduation.
Working as an Intern in a Child Development Facility
As an intern in a child development facility, you can gain valuable experience working with children of all ages. This position could benefit a future career if you’re interested in becoming a teacher, pursuing cognitive psychology or cognitive science, or becoming a cognitive development researcher. Some of your duties as an intern may include observing children for research, conducting cognitive assessments, performing research, and meeting with other researchers to discuss findings and next steps.
Working as a Psychology Teaching Assistant with a Professor in the Department
If you think you may be interested in becoming a professor yourself one day, consider applying for a teaching assistant position. As a TA, you will assist the professor with a variety of his teaching duties including giving lectures, facilitating smaller group discussions, grading papers, and meeting with students during office hours to offer support and guidance.
Working as a Human Resource Specialist Intern
Many psychology majors end up working as a human resource specialist. These individuals are an integral part of an organization’s hiring team and help find the right candidate for each opening. They also work to make sure new hires receive the training and support needed to succeed in their positions and handle work place disputes. As an intern, you may screen applicants to look for potential matches to the needs of the company, follow up with an applicant’s resources, organize resumes to present to the hiring team, and conduct orientation sessions for new hires.
How to Get Selected for an Internship
Your job is to distinguish yourself from other students applying for the same internship as you. If you want to be selected, make sure to apply early. Most of the time, applying 6 months to a year in advance is necessary. The organization offering the internship will often work with your school schedule to set a start date that works best. Make sure that you let the organization know you are passionate about the field of psychology, and focus on your student accomplishments.
Even if there is one position you are most interested in, take the time to apply for several opportunities. You may not get your first choice, and it is important to have some backup options. Before submitting an application and setting up an interview with any organizations, complete research about the position and the organization. This will help you be more prepared to explain why you are interested in the position and can make you stand out against the other applicants for the position. Finding the perfect opportunity is like finding the perfect career, it will take time and effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do psychology majors need internships?
While an internship may not always be a requirement for graduation for a psychology major, it is still a good idea to pursue an internship. Internships offer the invaluable opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a field they are interested in. This experience can either help solidify the student’s interest in the field, or help them realize that they may want to look for work in other areas. Finding this out while you are still in college will make it much either to transition to a different field within psychology, or even a completely different career path, than would be possible after graduation.
As an intern for psychology majors, individuals will also form professional connections that could prove to be very lucrative for their futures. For example, if you make a good impression and prove that you are a dedicated worker, you may be able to use the individuals you worked with as a reference, or even apply at the same organization you interned with. This can certainly give you a head up over other potential candidates.
Do psychology interns get paid?
Yes, many internships for psychology majors will be paid positions, but there may also be some unpaid internship opportunities. While finding a paid position may be a huge benefit now, keep your long-term goals in mind and look for a position that will help you achieve them.
What do you do in a psychology internship?
The exact duties of a psychology internship can vary greatly from one position to another. Some internships may involve more research and writing, while others may offer more hands-on work or opportunities to work with patients.
How long is a psychology internship?
The length of an internship can vary, but in most cases, they last for between 10 and 12 weeks.
How can I find a psychology internship?
There is no one right way to look for an internship. You will likely need to consult a variety of different resources and dedicate some time to performing a search to find a position that both interests you and helps further your career goals. Try some of the following options to help you find the right internship position:
• Consult internship finder websites
• Look at career builder websites for internship positions
• Attend job fairs
• Network with other individuals and ask for recommendations
• Consult with your professors for ideas
• Bring your resume to different organizations where you would like to intern
How do I make a good impression during an internship?
You should think of an internship as a multi-week job interview. Taking steps to make the best impression possible will not only help you with the internship itself, but it can also help prepare you for future success. When you make a good internship, the individuals you are working with will be much more likely to recommend you to a potential future employer or even consider hiring you after you graduate.
Keep these tips in mind to make the best impression possible during your internship:
• Research the position and your duties
• Show up prepared for work each day
• Go above and beyond your assigned duties
• Be on time, or even earlier each day
• Dress like a profession
• Get to know your boss and co-workers
• Remove anything from your social media accounts that doesn’t look professional
What careers do psychology majors go into?
There are many different career options open to psychology majors. Some careers may only require an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, while others may require a more advanced degree. Some possible career options you can consider as a psychology major include:
• Administrative services manager
• Management analyst
• Career advisor
• Guidance counselor
• Human resources specialist
• Police officer
• Correctional officer
• Social work assistant
• Psychiatric technician
• Community services manager
• Market research analyst
• Public relations specialist
• Health educator
• Sales manager
• Patient advocate
• Victim advocate
• Sports psychologist
• Environmental psychologist
• Clinical psychologist
There are a lot of different internship options when you are a psychology degree major. Consider what career you will find fulfilling, look for opportunities that are relevant, and gain experience while you improve upon your resume for the future. The skills, knowledge, and connections you can gain during an internship can prove to be invaluable after your graduate and begin your search for a full-time career.