Psychology is one of the most rewarding majors, and child psychology especially so. Many child psychology majors go on to careers in counseling and social work in a variety of settings. But how can a current student prepare to enter the workforce? By graduation, ideally the student has some experience in the field and can identify the type of work he or she wants to do. An internship is a valuable experience which allows students to test their skills in a workplace setting. Many managers and graduate programs look for applicable experience from applicants, making an internship a great resume booster. But what kind of internship should a child psychology major get?
As Psych Central notes, fit is essential. Choosing an internship is mostly about finding a place with a good “fit” in a reasonable distance. There are many paths for a child psychology major to choose from. Work at an internship in the same setting as a desired job placement, doing similar tasks.
The Medical Setting
Many hospitals take on undergraduate interns. For those wishing to pursue childcare and psychology in a medical setting, a placement at a children’s hospital is a great start. Some better-known hospitals can only accept graduate interns, but there are usually local options available to undergraduates. Ask the pre-medical program advisers at your college about where undergraduate students are placed for experience and shadowing. They will be happy to help if the psychology advisers are unsure of which hospitals accept interns.
A Research Internship
An internship with a research lab is preferable for students wishing to go into academics and research. Find an APA recommended program to apply for. There are many summer research programs available via the APA website. A research placement is also good for students who intend to pursue graduate degrees. It helps to narrow the focus of study and make contacts who will be essential later on. A letter of recommendation from a respected researcher carries much more weight than one from a lecturer or employer.
Experience in Childcare
Finally, a childcare internship can be just as relevant as a psychology internship for those who intend to go into counseling, social work, or education after graduation. If research and medical sides of the major aren’t a good “fit, ” don’t take an internship in those areas. A potential employer in the educational, counseling, or childcare sectors will view a degree in child psychology favorably but will also want to see hands on experience with children. Working in a lab analyzing data may make a student a good candidate for graduate school, but not for working with kids in social programs and education.
The best internship is one which complements a students’ interests and goals. An internship should fill a gap in experience that schooling cannot cover. It should not simply be a repeat of methods learned in classes, or a resume-booster. For an internship to have value, it must be highly related to subsequent studies or job applications. Additionally, students with true interest in the subject of an internship will have a better time and build more meaningful connections.