Students have the sole responsibility for the planning of their internships. The organization which sponsors you should be chosen after careful investigation. Internships should not be afterthoughts. Althoughthe internship officially begins during the semester you have chosen, you should have a fairly good idea of what you would like to do at the beginning of the previous semester. Often the summer between your sophomore and junior year is a good time to track down possibilities, particularly if you would like to do an internship close to your hometown. If you need some inspiration to come up with possibilities, or the dates of internship day, Mrs. Waugaman in the Career Center (top floor of the McKelvey Campus Center) maintains a data base of all past internships. She is very eager to share this information with you. Also in mid February there is an 'internship day' where you can interview with potential agencies for internship positions. There is often someone there from a psychology-related organization. Be sure to choose a semester in which you have sufficient time to schedule a quality internship.
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 senior 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 or her job entails, the pros and cons of the occupation, his or her 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 faculty.
Prior to the beginning of any registration paperwork, make an appointment with a member of the psychology faculty to discuss your general plans. At that point, a faculty member can tell you if your plans seem appropriate, can go over the grading options and will also 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. Material on this list should be part of what you pack for the internship. The list must be completed and have the approval of your instructor by the end of the semester prior to your internship.
The following information must be provided on the application form:
Prior to registration have your faculty instructor and the department chair sign the "Approval for Field Experience" card which must be presented at the time of registration.
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. However, it is your responsibility to arrange at least a small amount of time with the supervisor to ask questions relevant to his/her professional training and responsibilities.
Since the experience is an apprenticeship, it is essential that you understand "the psychology" of what you are doing. For example, in some cases you will be working on a day-in day-out basis with teaching staff or perhaps a lab technician. This is O.K., but such people may not be knowledgeable enough to teach you why they do what they do. It is your responsibility to seek out professional staff who can explain this to you. Such an understanding is an essential component of your internship.
As a way to help you understand what you are doing: