In This Issue

‘Tis the season for internships

A timeline for the internship application process offers guidance and tips

By Kaleigh Bantum and Lindsey DeBor

While you are enjoying the summer sun, and hopefully a break from your graduate coursework, it’s never too early to start thinking about internship. Your school psychology training experience will not be complete without a year-long, comprehensive opportunity to integrate the knowledge you’ve gathered as part of your academic work within an applied setting. Internship allows you to build your professional repertoire and polish your education before beginning your career. Internships vary greatly and offer a wide range of practice experience, networking opportunities, and paths to becoming the school psychologist you hope to be.

Some things to consider when deciding on an internship:

  • Be sure your internship meets the requirements for your program, the area you hope to work in, and the national certification qualifications (NCSP). Keep in mind that NASP standards require that doctoral internships include at least 1500 hours of supervised experience with at least 600 hours in a school setting. 

  • Consider the opportunities you will have to expand your professional knowledge with diverse experiences. What populations will you be working with? Are you interested in a particular area of specialization? 

  • What type of supervision do you need? Will your site meet these needs? 

  • Determine how important your geographic location is in selecting an internship. Be sure to consider the requirements of your program for out-of-state placements. 

  • Money! Financial support is always important. Consider compensation in terms of sick days, vacation, and health insurance benefits. If the internship is unpaid, think about how you will support yourself. 

  • Are there professional development opportunities available such as conferences and seminars?

Here’s a timeline for the internship application process to help you along the way:

August/September
  • Start researching potential sites of interest for your internship. Consider: consulting with your advisor & faculty within your program; contacting students from your program who have completed the internship process; looking for internship announcements in the NASP Communiqué or other professional newsletters and websites; contacting APA and APPIC for information on accredited internships, if interested 

  • Begin organizing your application materials, such as practicum logs, portfolio materials, etc. if you have not done so throughout your training. Be sure to gather all of the details of the experiences you’ve had during your training so that you accurately provide a comprehensive picture of your experiences. 

  • Think about whom you would like to serve as references for you. 

  • Consider acquiring professional malpractice insurance. 

  • Begin saving for the potential costs of applying. These may include mailing and printing of materials, fees for utilizing the APPIC Match online service, transcripts, etc.

October/November

Update your resume or curriculum vitae Ask people to serve as your references for letters of recommendation. Be sure these are people who can speak highly of your abilities as an intern and are able to provide personalized information about your individual skills.

Attend internship fairs that are available within your local area.

December

Make initial inquires to sites about the positions available. Many sites have information online, but call if you have questions!

Secure your letters of recommendation by providing all the necessary information to your writers regarding the sites to which you will be applying.

January

Submit application materials! This should include cover letter, resume, transcripts, recommendation letters, and specific portfolio requirements for each individual site.

February

Interview. There are plenty of resources available around potential questions you may be asked. Some questions you may be asked include:

  • What do you want to get out of this internship? 

  • Why did you choose school psychology as a career? Tell me about yourself. 

  • What are your personal strengths/weaknesses? 

  • What is your theoretical orientation?

Be sure to come up with your own questions for the site. After all, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you; you are looking for a perfect match as well! Be sure you’ve done your homework, so you are not asking questions about information that has already been provided to you.

Examples include:

  • What is the ratio of school psychologists to students? 

  • What are your likes/dislikes about working in this district? 

  • How often do you get new test instruments? 

  • What services are school psychologists expected to provide in this district? 

  • Send personalized thank you notes to interviewers to show your appreciation.

March
  1. As the offers come in, think carefully about the pros and cons of each, and choose wisely!

  2. Relax! You survived, so reward yourself for all of your hard work!

Please note that if you are interested in utilizing the APPIC process this timeline may vary.

More Graduate Student Resources

missing links

  • NASP Career Center Resources for Students 

  • State requirements for credentialing school psychologists or state psychology boards for licensing psychologists are provided. 

  • NASP Internship Fact Sheet (PDF, 59KB) 

  • Internships in Psychology: the APAGS Workbook for Writing Successful Applications and Finding the Right Fit

This article was reprinted with permission from July 2011 issue of The School Psychologist, 65(3).