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Psychology

Internships

Internships provide excellent opportunities for you to apply psychology through hands-on experiential learning in mental health, educational and research settings. Internships may be conducted during any term, though most students complete them between the junior and senior years. All psychology and neuroscience students are required to complete a 160-hour internship experience for academic credit. There is a separate fee for summer internships.

These guidelines will help you plan for and benefit from your internship experiences.

Planning

In consultation with your psychology or neuroscience faculty and staff in the Professional Development Center, you will take the lead in planning your internship. You should carefully investigate potential organizations that could sponsor your internship so that you identify the experiences that will benefit your learning and professional goals. Staff members in the Professional Development Center (2nd floor of McKelvey Campus Center) can help you identify potential organizations if you need inspiration.

Internships are a way to learn from professionals and to "network." Students sometimes choose internships that put them in a setting similar to one they envision for their own careers. You may become enthused by your experiences, or you may decide that you do not enjoy a type of work as much as you thought. Both are valuable outcomes. Internships can also provide opportunities for research experiences. For example, work in a graduate lab may provide an inspiration for a Capstone thesis or provide an invaluable contact for admission into a graduate program.

One important criterion in the selection of a sponsoring agency is the availability of professional staff, preferably a psychologist, with at least a master's degree. A sponsor should be someone willing to spend some time with you in explaining what his, her, or job job entails; the pros and cons of the occupation; his, her, or their career path; and what you might need to know about graduate or professional training. Make sure this individual approves your internship and is willing to serve as a contact person with the Westminster psychology or neuroscience faculty.

Prior to registering for an internship, you should meet with a member of the psychology or neuroscience faculty to discuss your general plans. At that point, a faculty member can tell you if your plans seem appropriate, review grading options, and suggest who the best faculty instructor for the field experience might be. One of the first things you should do after obtaining a faculty instructor is to develop a reading list that relates to your internship experience.

Registration

To register for an internship, visit the Professional Development Center’s internship website. The site contains a document, Internship Guidelines, that walks you through the registration process. You can also identify potential sponsor organizations through Handshake, Westminster’s online database of internship and job postings.

The Internship Experience

If appropriately planned, you should be involved in experiences which are educational and worthy of college credit. Regard your internship as an apprenticeship. Your work should not be primarily clerical. You should be in regular contact with your faculty instructor to ensure that your activities are appropriate or some changes need to be made. If the internship appears unsatisfactory in any way, let your Westminster instructor know. It may be more appropriate for us to attempt to rectify things for you.

On-site supervisors will vary quite a bit in how much time they are willing or able to spend with you directly. Sometimes they are concerned that they need to prepare special activities for you. You can assure them that they need not, although many will voluntarily take special interest in you. Your will benefit most if you schedule routine conversations with your on-site supervisor to ask questions relevant to his, her, or their professional training and responsibilities.

Grading

Regular or S/U grading is available for internships. Regardless of grading type, the same course requirements apply. They are:

  • Journal: A daily record should be kept of your on-site activities. It should include a description of how information from your Westminster courses relates to your internship activities.
  • On-Site Evaluation: Your on-site supervisor is responsible for writing a brief evaluation of your performance. The evaluations are sent to the Professional Development Center staff.
  • Paper: A paper that integrates your practical experiences with academic psychology is required. It most likely requires relating your activities to materials on your reading list. Its exact content, length, date due etc., will be assigned by the faculty instructor. Generally, it is completed after you return to campus at the beginning of the following semester.

 

 

What can you do with a Psychology degree?

Imagine yourself in the human services field, in a research position, in a school system, as a forensic scientist, or holding a position in an industrial or corporate setting.