By Manny Gonzalez, Summr 2011
Throughout my graduate school tenure, I have felt as if I have had to explain what I'm studying (I'm going to be a clinical psychologist; no, I won't be able to prescribe meds), my school (CSPP at Alliant; it's a professional school, meaning the focus isn't primarily on research but on practice), and my degree (no it's not a PhD, it's a PsyD; yes, we still have to do a dissertation). Truth be told, I now resign myself to explaining that I study psychology at an anonymous school located across the street from Pier 39 in San Francisco. However, does the degree I'm working toward or my attendance at a professional school impact my ability to match at an internship site?
Clinical psychology students are quite fortunate in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, though we have the option to apply for APPIC or CAPIC accredited internship sites for those who want to stay local, we are in competition with students from a number of local clinical programs as well as out-of-state candidates who hope to land internships and establish careers in sunny California. At a national level, we are in competition with every other counseling and clinical psychology graduate student. To further complicate matters, for those who are interested in one day working at a Kaiser, a VA, or a college counseling center, completing an APA approved or APPIC accredited internship is a prerequisite.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on the initiatives the school has in place that aim to improve the chances of students matching at an APPIC accredited internship.
According to the Office of Professional Training (OPT), this year CSPP had a record number of students who successfully matched with APPIC internships. In part, these match rates could be attributed to two new forms of support that OPT has instituted within the last year: A series of summer preparation workshops are now available to students to begin working on their essays, cover letters, and curricula vitae; and a workshop series where students can practice their interviewing skills with faculty members.
Other forms of support are drop-in consultation groups in the fall designed for students applying for internships. An interview question-and-answer workshop has also historically been a huge success among students. Additionally,the OPT provides various handouts and orientation sessions, one of which includes students who matched with APA accredited internship sites.
While it may be true that certain internship sites discriminate against professional schools, PsyD degrees, or even the local clinical scientist model, there are several factors that are within our control that can influence our probability of successfully matching. So, if you find yourself getting discouraged at the internship application process, ask yourself if you've accessed all of Alliant's resources that can help turn you into the best candidate possible.
For APPIC match rates and other statistics, check out http://www.appic.org/match/ 5_2_2_match_about_statistics.html