WHAT is a Psychology Internship?
A Psychology Internship involves working with professionals in mental health, human services, business, education, or other work settings. Internships help students to apply and expand Psychology knowledge, and explore career options. An intern’s on-site work is supervised by an employee of the organization providing the Internship, and the work may or may not be paid. Some internships require that academic credit is earned as a prerequisite to apply.
HOW do I do a Psychology Internship for course credit?
PSY 398 – Counseling and Clinical Field Experience Seminar: For students interning in Counseling/Clinical settings, including Developmental internships with a counseling/clinical focus (e.g., school counseling), during the academic year.
PSY 399 / 487 – Independent Internship: For students completing non-Counseling/Clinical internships, OR who are not able to enroll in PSY 398 during the academic year, OR who want/need to complete a summer internship.
WHY do a Psychology Internship for course credit?
Internships for course credit give students ACCESS to academic and professional guidance and resources that can help with understanding and reflection of the internship, enriching the overall experience.
Internships for course credit come with faculty SUPPORT that can be critical to developing professional practices and standards and to the understanding and creation of solutions to difficult work experiences.
Psychology internship courses can SATISFY ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS by counting towards the Specialized Area, the Option, or the Senior Capstone requirement depending on individual graduation needs.
The Psychology internship course application process can help to ensure the QUALITY of internships.
The academic piece of Psychology internship courses provides the opportunity for interns to meaningfully build their PROFESSIONAL SKILLS AND NETWORK.
Click here to learn how an internship benefited a previous TCNJ psychology student!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which Internship course should I take?
PSY 398 Counseling / Clinical Field Experience Seminar: For students interning in Counseling/Clinical settings, including Developmental internships with a counseling/clinical focus (e.g., school counseling), during the academic year. PSY 398 is a regularly scheduled course with a pre-determined syllabus that meets weekly in a classroom setting with other Psychology student interns and a course instructor. It mimics grad school training, facilitates the learning and practice of clinical skills in a group environment under the guidance of a course instructor, and provides a forum for students to learn from each other. Prerequisites: 2.0 minimum GPA; Completion of PSY 217; internship is in a counseling/clinical setting, including Developmental internships (e.g., school counseling), where there is substantial direct contact with individuals served at the placement and opportunities to observe and/or perform clinical- and/or counseling-related tasks.
PSY 399/487 Independent Internship: For students completing non-Counseling/Clinical internships, OR who are not able to enroll in PSY 398 during the academic year, OR who want/need to complete a summer internship. PSY 399/487 have individualized academic components that are developed in one-on-one working relationships between student and faculty sponsor. PSY 399 and PSY 487 differ in the academic components in that PSY 399 requires a 10-15 page written paper, and PSY 487 is a writing-intensive senior experience course that requires the development of a 20-25 page paper and an oral presentation to an appropriate audience. Prerequisites: 2.5 minimum GPA; sophomore status; for 487 – completion of PSY 299 with at least a C- grade.
How do I find my own internship?
There are a few ways students find internship placements:
- Review sites where TCNJ Psychology students have interned in the past to identify sites of interest to you.
- Visit the TCNJ Career Center’s College Enhancement Intern program webpage for potential on-campus internships.
- Check out the Community-Based Academic Internship program at TCNJ’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research.
- Look on Handshake, the online job network maintained by TCN Career Services.
- Search for opportunities on Linked In.
- Consider using your current job as your internship site if you are employed and are able to perform appropriate intern duties and receive regular supervision from another member of the organization.
Things to keep in mind when searching for an internship placement:
- The internship site must provide an on-site supervisor and appropriate intern duties to fulfill the learning objectives for PSY 398 and PSY 399/487. Students and potential site supervisors should discuss the TCNJ Internship requirements listed in the course specific – PSY 398 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor OR the PSY 399/487 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor during an initial, exploratory conversation.
- Internship sites have varied application / on-boarding time and content requirements, including (for example) fingerprinting, background checks, and a TB test. This may impact when opportunities are available and the time it takes to confirm a position. Discuss specific timing and site requirements with your potential site supervisor early on.
What happens if I am having a hard time finding an internship?
It is recommended that students search for and confirm an internship in the semester prior to when the internship is to take place. While it is the responsibility of each student to find their own internship, students searching for an appropriate internship site are encouraged to reach out to their PSY 398 instructor / PSY 399/487 faculty sponsor early on with questions and for help.
How do I make an initial outreach to a potential internship site supervisor?
- PHONE: Ask to speak to the volunteer or internship coordinator. If you EMAIL, try to find a specific person in which to send the email. If it is not clear who may coordinate an organization’s internships, look for someone who coordinates volunteers.
- Introduce yourself and indicate that you are a student studying Psychology at TCNJ and that you are taking a field experience course at TCNJ.
- Express your interest in a field experience or internship at the site. Be prepared to describe what attracts you about the experience.
- Briefly describe the requirements of the placement (see the PSY 398 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor OR the PSY 399/487 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor.)
- Ask if those requirements can be met at the site.
- Ask to arrange a meeting or interview to discuss interning at the site.
Be confident in yourself and do not be discouraged if you are not successful right off the bat. This is good practice for your future job search process.
How should I prepare for an interview? What do I need to remember to discuss during an interview?
Before the interview:
- Do your research about the organization ahead of time. Be prepared to talk about why you want to intern at this organization, and the experience and skills that you can bring to the position.
- Think about your interest in working with the population of the placement and courses that you have taken that may be applicable (e.g., Psychological Disorders, Clinical Psychology).
During the interview:
- YOUR EXPECTATIONS: ask about the types of skills and knowledge you will obtain through working at the placement.
- PLACEMENT EXPECTATIONS & REQUIREMENTS: Ask about the types of work you will do and any required hours, training, or prequalifications needed (e.g., background check, drug screen). Verify that the placement meets the internship course requirements (can be found in the PSY 398 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor / PSY 399/487 Letter to Internship Site Supervisor.) If possible, establish a schedule, including number of hours to be on-site per week, specific on-site days and times, and start date and end date. Clarify any tasks that need to be completed PRIOR TO your start date.
- ON-SITE SUPERVISOR: Ask for the name of the person who will be your supervisor and verify the type and frequency of contact that you can expect with that person. Indicate that the supervisor is welcome to contact your course instructor / faculty sponsor at any time if desired.
- LETTER OF INTENT: Indicate that you will need a letter from the supervisor stating: 1) the supervisor’s name and contact information (phone number, email address); 2) a list of specific job responsibilities; 3) the type and frequency of contact with your supervisor; 4) the number of hours you will work each week; and 5) the dates (month and day) that you will start and end your work at the site.
What is the application process for Psychology Internship Courses?
- Enroll in PSY 398 on PAWS (as you would any course.)
- Find an internship that has a clinical or counseling focus where you have substantial direct contact with individuals who are served at the placement and where you observe and/or perform clinical- and/or counseling-related tasks.
- Follow instructions provided by your PSY 398 course instructor.
- Find an internship that involves intensive field experiences.
- Find a faculty sponsor.
- Submit PSY 399/487 application paperwork to ELOPsy portal by no later than the last day of the semester before the semester when the internship will take place.
- Submit the necessary application paperwork to the HSS Dean’s Qualtrics portal by no later than the last day of add/drop in the internship semester.
Click here for more information and to download required application documents.
How is an Internship for credit different from an Independent Study or a paid/volunteer position?
A Psychology Internship for credit involves developing professional skills while applying Psychology knowledge in work with professionals in mental health, human services, business, or education settings under the supervision of an on-site organizational employee. Internships for course credit enable students to also delve into and reflect on their work experiences in an academic setting with course faculty.
An Independent Study is an academic learning experience, supervised by a member of the Psychology Department faculty. If there is a hands-on component to an independent study, it usually involves conducting psychological research to expand the knowledge base of psychology, rather than applying the principles of psychology to practical problems or situations in work settings.
An Internship for credit is unique from a strictly paid job or volunteer position because it involves an academic component that is integrated with the on-site work experiences.
Can I do a summer internship?
Yes! PSY 399/487 Independent Internship works for students who want/need to complete a summer internship.
What will I do for the academic component of the internship and how will my grade be determined?
For PSY 398, please consult your course instructor for more information.
Click here for a sample PSY 399/487 application form, which includes sample assessment, evaluation, and grading information for someone doing an Independent Internship.
Additional Questions? Please contact Dr. Ruddy (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Psychology Department Internship Committee Chair.