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University of Minnesota Duluth
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The Department of Psychology

The College of Education & Human Service Professions

Internships in Psychology

The Psychology Department has more than 20 sites where students can complete internships. Internship opportunities include working with children in school and after school programs, working with families on issues such as domestic abuse, working with treatment programs for children and adolescents, and working with issues such as mental health and chemical dependency.

Students seek internships for a number of reasons. If you are planning to go to graduate school, it may be important to have an internship on your application. This is particularly important if you do not have work experience or volunteer experience in your chosen field. Graduate programs want students to be well informed about their career choices before they enter a graduate program, and students need relevant experiences to apply to their coursework. Having an experience in human services means that the content of a graduate course is more meaningful and you can relate the discussion to the real life experiences that you have encountered. For students who are planning to postpone graduate school for a year or two, or those planning to work after graduation, an internship means that you have more to write on your resume. You will have experiences to use in seeking your first employment. You will know people working in the field so you can network with other professionals in finding your first job, and you may even be employed in the organization where you interned. An internship is particularly important for students who do not have concrete plans for what to do after graduation.

The Process. To complete an internship in psychology, you need to first enroll in a 2-credit course, Psy 3010 Internship Preparation. In this course, you will have the opportunity to discuss your career goals, to explore the internships available, to develop a resume and to find out more about the internship of your choice. The course also includes a discussion of ethics that are important to counseling and psychology, so students read a textbook and give presentations on various topics important to understanding ethical decision making. During the semester that you take 3010, you will interview at the site of your choice, or more than one site. Finding an internship is like finding employment because the site must be interested in you and what you have to offer, and you must decide that this site would be a good match for you and your interests. By the end of 3010 you should have located an internship site and be prepared to complete your internship in one of the following semesters. The College of Education and Human Services must have an affiliation agreement with each site, so making this decision during 3010 will allow time to contact the site and arrange for the agreement to be signed. During the pre-internship course, students will complete information needed for background checks. The background checks must be completed before students are assigned to internship.

After you complete 3010 and find an internship, you will enroll in Psy 3011Internship in Psychology for three credits. If you wish to take additional credits, you can also enroll in Psy 3996 Pre-Professional Field Placement. This course has a variable number of credits, but you need to spend three hours per week for every credit that you complete. If you enroll for three credits, you will be on site at least nine hours per week and will have one hour per week to meet with your internship group. Internship credits may be used for electives in psychology. Some students will want to enroll in an internship for both fall and spring semester, so they will take three credits each semester. A few sites require this, because they want to have the intern for a longer time. In the beginning, an intern requires considerable work for the organization staff, but as time goes along the intern understands what to do and provides a service for the organization.

During the semester of internship, you will be on site and will work with whatever your site supervisor wants you to do. Interns are most successful when they are flexible and willing to help with whatever needs to be done. You may begin by shadowing a staff member and reading materials to understand how the organization functions. Over time, you will be given more responsibilities and will have the opportunity to meet with clients or participate with groups. At this time, you will also meet with other students in your internship group for support and discussion of issues that arise. You will complete a project related to your site. Your faculty member from the Psychology department will visit you on site and meet with you and your internship supervisor.

Planning Ahead. Students planning to complete internships should be sincerely interested in working with a community organization. Although the internship will be helpful for you and your future career or graduate school, it is essential that you have adequate time and energy to give to the organization you select. During the semester that you complete internship, you will need flexibility in your schedule so you can be onsite when you are most needed, and so that you have some extra time to devote when the organization needs you. It would not be a good idea to do an internship when your schedule is very tight and you have no extra time to attend a training, to be present for an important meeting, or to volunteer at a special event. While you are planning your coursework in psychology, it is a good idea to consider an internship as early as possible. Ideally there will be a semester in which you do not have too many credits to take and can devote considerable time to your internship. Internships are not often offered during the summer.

Internships provide a wonderful opportunity for students and a service for our community. For further information, please talk to your advisor to discuss your plans.

If you are considering an internship, please read more: Considering an Internship?