Internships are a fantastic way to prepare for a professional career—and garner valuable contacts and experience. Plus, adding international skills and work history to your CV through an overseas internship is an excellent way to set yourself apart from your competition in pursuit of the career of your dreams.
If you are considering college internships abroad, the following interview with Laura Rutkowski about her experience studying abroad in England with a psychology internship should be very helpful as you prepare for your own academic and professional future:
What is your major and where did you intern?
I am majoring in psychology with a minor in philosophy. My internship was with a private rehabilitation treatment center in Old Woking, Surrey.
What were your responsibilities during the internship?
As a clinical intern, my responsibilities included helping the clinical team by retrieving and filing the clients’ Step 10 sheets, attending the process, psychological education, and assignment groups, helping with general admin, and interacting with the clients on a daily basis, particularly on the client walk after lunch. I wrote up notes after process and assignment groups to be inputted on the Life Base system. I also sat with the eating disorder clients during snack time to ensure that they ate their entire snack and that their behavior was monitored afterwards.
What new knowledge and skills did you gain or develop?
I discovered that books and classroom lectures can only teach you so much. Although I might know what a panic attack is, nothing could have prepared for me for actually calming a client down while she was having one. This is why internships are essential, because they build the necessary real world skills and experience in order to cope with different situations, people, and disorders.
Overall, I learned a lot about boundaries, because while it was tempting to form relationships with the clients, I had to remain professional at all times in terms of my behavior and my conversational topics. My preconceptions of addicts were also challenged, because I previously held a stereotypical view of them that was completely squashed after getting to know the clients.
Has the internship influenced your future career choices?
I would like to pursue the psychology of fashion in my future career. For my Quantitative Senior Project this semester, I am investigating body image and state and trait self-esteem in relation to high-end and low-end clothing brands. Working with the eating disorder clients was particularly helpful for me in regards to my project.
Body image and self-esteem are very prevalent forces affecting women of all ages, and the eating disorder clients openly admitted to avoiding mirrors and being affected by images in the media. Perhaps addiction psychology is something that I can revisit in the future. Interning at this organization taught me that a doctorate degree is not always required for a psychology career where client interaction is involved and that has made the prospect of pursuing a career in psychology seem even more achievable.