What is an Internship?
An internship is a planned, structured, and closely supervised educational experience that takes place primarily outside of the college classroom involving “real world” work that is closely related to a student’s anticipated career path. The purposes of the Psychology internship include providing students with opportunities to:
- enhance and supplement the college classroom learning experience by “learning through doing;”
- develop and apply new knowledge about human behavior as well as new social and interpersonal skills;
- explore and reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses related to interpersonal behavior in work settings;
- explore and reflect on future career and employment options; and
- develop a network of contacts and references, which will lay a foundation for future employment and/or education and training.
The central theme of the internship concept is that work experience outside of the college classroom can greatly enhance education and better prepare students for entry into jobs and careers after college.
Why is an Internship Required in the Lehigh Valley Psychology Degree?
A goal of the Psychology program is to help students develop knowledge and skills in areas of applied psychology that will help them function effectively in the work world. Although much of this knowledge and many of the skills will develop through classroom lecture and discussion, active learning projects, presentations, and writing assignments, the internship adds a unique and essential learning experience, which complements classroom learning. As a result of the work experience, Psychology graduates will have a broader and more practical college experience and will be better prepared to enter jobs in social service organizations and businesses, which require knowledge and skills related to applied psychology.
How Many Credits/Hours are in the Internship?Students receive credit for internship work through PSYCH 495 (A,B,C,D) each semester during their junior and senior years (3 credits each semester for a maximum of 12 credits). The internship work requirement is distributed as follows:
- PSYCH 495A, 75 hours of onsite work
- PSYCH 495B, C, &D, 150 hours of onsite work each
The total number of hours of internship available is 525 hours, totaling 12 credits.
How is an Internship Different from a Part-Time/Full-Time Job, and Will It Pay?
There are three major differences between an internship and private employment (part-time or full-time).
- Learning and gaining experience are the major goals of an internship?not making money. Students may or may not be paid for their internship work depending on the type of organization of business they choose. Many social service agencies cannot afford to pay interns, although some might pay a small stipend or offer other incentives. Businesses and corporations may pay interns modest wages. Students who need a source of income may need to maintain a job in addition to their internship; students who find a paying internship might well find that their internship will compensate them adequately and might not need other employment.
- The location of the internship and the nature of the work performed must be approved by a faculty member before the internship begins. It is important that the work assigned be matched to the interests and skill level of the student as well as the needs of the organization/business offering the internship. Most importantly, the work assigned must provide a learning experience for the student.
- Both a psychology faculty member and an onsite supervisor evaluate the internship experience. The onsite supervisor primarily determines job performance and the faculty member determines the value of the learning experience and assigns a grade for the experience. The completion and quality of PSYCH 495 course assignments related to the work experience is also reflected in the internship grade (see requirements below).
When Should Internships be Scheduled?
Students should schedule an internship each semester during their junior and senior years (i.e. after they have completed 60 credits and have been admitted into the Psychology degree). It is required that students have successfully completed the following courses before scheduling an internship:
- PSYCH 100
- STAT 200
- PSYCH 301W
How Does One Find an Internship Site?Finding an acceptable internship location is ultimately the student’s responsibility; however, students are given as much assistance as needed to ensure success. During the first few weeks of PSYCH 495A, students receive information, guidance, and individual help in securing an internship. Career Services at the Lehigh Valley Campus assists students with a list of agencies, organizations, businesses, and corporations that are appropriate for internship experiences. Students may also seek approval for internship sites that they find on their own-sites not on the College list. Students are also given guidance on writing resumes, interviewing, and accepting positions. (See "What Types of Organizations Are Appropriate for an Internship?" below.)
How Long Should the Internship Job Last?
Students are expected to schedule their internship during the semester and remain at a site for the full semester. Because many students will not have a clear idea of the type of job or career they are best suited for, and the needs of different sponsors will vary (some organizations might not need a student more than a semester), experimentation with more that one internship site is encouraged. A typical student may have two different internships over the four semesters; however, some may have three or four.
How Is the Internship (PSYCH 495) Grade Determined?
Credit and a grade for the internship is given in PSYCH 495 A,B,C, and D. Each course requires students to do the following:
- attend a specified number of classroom sessions (seminars) with other students and faculty supervisor(s) scheduled during the semester
- read assigned articles or textbooks
- make oral presentations/reports/case studies periodically to the class on the work experience
- maintain and submit an internship journal at the end of the semester
- be evaluated by the supervisor onsite
- have individual conferences with the onsite supervisor and a faculty supervisor during the semester concerning performance
- write a reaction paper on the internship experience at the end of the semester
The first internship course, PSYCH 495A, includes some additional requirements because it is an orientation course. These requirements are:
- orientation to the internship experience: readings, presentations, discussion
- discussion of issues of ethical and professional conduct and deportment
- development of a Self-Assessment Profile and a Career Goal Statement based on individual feedback from a career development test battery including the Strong Interest Inventory and the NEO-PI (personality inventory)
- development of a personal Internship Goal Statement
Who Supervises the Internship?Psychology faculty members are assigned responsibility for the PSYCH 495 course and he/she serves as the faculty internship supervisor. In special cases where an instructor assigned to PSYCH 495 is not well matched for a student’s internship site, another psychology faculty member might supervise a student.
Faculty supervisors maintain close contact with onsite supervisors and communicate each semester with onsite supervisors to discuss student progress.
What Records are Kept of Internships?A departmental internship file is kept for each student and includes all records of the internship experiences including conference reports, onsite supervisor evaluations, records of any complaints, students’ reports each semester, etc. The following specific forms must be completed and held in each student file:
- Summary of Internship experiences
- Student Internship Contract
- Internship Goals
- Site Supervisor Internship Evaluation
Students should also keep records of their internship materials in their own files.