Department of Psychological Sciences
Internships in Psychology and HDFS
Internships are ways to get on-the-job, practical experiences that can build skills for graduate school acceptance and/or for your future career. Internships can also help you consider career pathways that might be a good fit, or—equally important—discover that a potential pathway may not be a good fit! For instance, sometimes students imagine working with children and then discover that children really annoy them. Conversely, some students imagine that research is boring and then fall in love with research as a result of an internship. We encourage you to think about your current career goals and to try to find an internship that might give you a taste of what that work would be like.
Here are the steps to take to pursue an internship in psychology or HDFS:
- Visit the Classroom to Career Hub (C2Hub) to learn more about internships at MSU Denver.
- Update your resume. View this video to get pointers. Once you’ve got a draft of your resume, you can use VMock to get immediate feedback. We also encourage you to send your resume into the Career Lab and have it reviewed.
- Review the Career Link database for internships that sound interesting and well matched for your professional development goals.
- Career Link is not the only resource you have for internships; we also recommend you start networking with classmates & faculty, as well as check out additional search engines:
- Each year, some students find their own internships. Maybe you have ideas about an organization that you’d love to work with; if so, we encourage you to reach out to them (see #6 below about how to construct a letter) to see if they might be interested in taking on an intern. If you have thoughts about a placement that you are unsure of, feel free to connect with one of the faculty supervisors (Dr. Smith or Dr. Lockwood; see #4 below) about the work you would be doing to get that approved for credit in an internship.
- Here’s a video that provides more information about finding and applying for internships.
- Meet with (or at least connect with via email) Dr. Randi Smith (spring semester) email@example.com or Dr. Linda Lockwood (fall semester) firstname.lastname@example.org to share your interest in being part of the internship class and to ask any questions you may have.
- Apply for Earn & Learn to see if you can get paid by the university for your work as an intern.
- Apply to various internships (we suggest 3-4 to start) by sending a tailored cover letter and attaching your resume. This video provides information on cover letters, and you can also use the Career Lab for support. In your cover letter, make sure to state that you are looking for an undergraduate internship that would provide about 10 hours/week of psychology-related experience and that would offer regular supervision from an experienced person who can meet with you on a weekly basis. (There is no degree requirement for undergraduate internship supervisors.)
- If you do not hear back from the organizations after a week or so, follow up with another email to them, and also apply to 2-3 more sites.
- Once you have secured an internship (or at least secured an interview for an internship) register for the internship course. If you are a first-time intern and are not planning to use the course to meet your senior experience requirement, register for PSY 3980. If you have senior standing and wish to have your internship count as your senior experience (a requirement for students who are pursuing the Clinical and Counseling Concentration), register for PSY 4650. (Note that these courses are “stacked,” meaning that students from both the Internship in Psychology and the Advance Internship are together in the same course. Advanced students will have more academic work—e.g., research paper, presentation—to meet the advanced requirement, but the onsite internship expectations are the same for both.)
Make sure you enroll for 3 credits (unless you have permission to take the course for some other credit load).
- Plan your class and work schedules to accommodate your internship hours. You are required to be onsite at your internship for 150 hours over the term, which is approximately 10 hours per week.
- Once you have secured an internship, initiate the Application for Academic Credit (this is essentially the “contract” between you, your internship site, and the university) by sending an email to email@example.com.
- Academic coursework: Whether you take PSY 3980 or PSY 4650, there are some academic requirements for the course. Students will be asked to meet on campus 4-5 times during the semester to go over triumphs and challenges you are facing in your internships, and to discuss things like work/life balance, professional communication, boundaries, cultural competence, etc. Toward the end of the semester, our in-person meeting will be devoted sharing professional presentations of your internship experiences. In addition to the face-to-face class sessions, through Canvas you will 1) file regular journals of your experiences; 2) create a literature review on a topic related to your internship; 3) have occasional readings that you will respond to; and 4) be encouraged to delve deeper into learning about the organization you are working with. Sometime midterm, your faculty supervisor will conduct a site visit to check in on you and your job supervisor to see how you are progressing on the goals you set at the beginning of the semester. And, finally, you and your site supervisor will evaluate your internship experience at the end of semester. Again, you should plan your schedule to include the class meetings and setting aside time to complete the academic assignments.