Studying in school gives you the basic knowledge you need to complete your psychology diploma or degree. However, this isn’t always enough because you need relevant industry and practical experience to work with clients successfully. You’ll have to evaluate, diagnose, and treat people’s mental problems as a psychologist. You can assist with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors.
If unmanaged, all these conditions can adversely affect clients. As a result, it affects their ability to work or go to school. Thus, the best way of tackling these situations effectively is by gaining experience. It’ll enable you to provide the best solutions for your clients. With that in mind, below are four ways you can gain psychology-related work experience:
Find an Internship Program
An internship is perfect for getting experience in what you studied. It’s sometimes optional with an undergraduate degree; however, interning gives you a firmer grasp of real-world situations, and you wouldn’t want to miss it. You also need it to get licensed to practice, as some boards require. You can get a chance to intern abroad with various renowned organizations, National Health Service (NHS), mental hospitals, social services, or general hospitals. An internship provides you with several advantages. Below is an outline of great incentives for psychology internships:
- You can gain skills: Working with an experienced psychologist lets you know what to do when handling patients. Ideally, to be a psychologist, you need skills like how to be a good listener, speaking to your patients, working with different patients’ personalities, and also be empathetic toward your patients.
- You can create professional networks: An internship enables you to associate with experienced psychologists who can serve as a great reference on your curriculum vitae. So, during the internship, ensure you’re social with your colleagues.
- You can know what psychology program is good for you: The real-world scenarios like personality or behavior changes can quickly change your opinion on whether or not you’d like to be a mental health psychologist. Thus, with an internship, you can weigh the pros and cons based on your patient interaction and see if it’s the right fit for you.
- It gives you a competitive advantage: If an opportunity for work experience opens up, the hiring team will probably be looking for someone who has interned because they believe they’ve learned the basics of the ins and outs of psychology.
Choose a distinct place to help diversify your experience when looking for an internship. Even if it’s unpaid but in a good organization, don’t forfeit the opportunity; you still gain work experience.
Volunteer in the Community
Numerous people undergo various mental health issues, derailing their lives daily. And the disadvantage is some can’t get help because they can’t afford therapy. In this case, you can volunteer in your community or with organizations to help them. It enables you to show your compassion while gaining work experience. You can work with families, hold group sessions, or work in mental health facilities. Additionally, you can volunteer in the following:
- Schools: You can help in school, especially with students having trouble concentrating or those with underlying mental problems. You could also help kids with special needs and be a mentor to the kids in school.
- Domestic abuse and sexual violence centers: You can help these individuals overcome their trauma because it can be very depressing to them to the extent of being unable to come to terms with the unfortunate incidents.
- Human resource departments: The workplace can be stressful for workers, and it could affect their productivity. Workers can speak to you and explain their problems.
- Charities and family relationship centres
There’s no limit to where you can volunteer; all you have to do is research any openings and ask for the opportunity to work there. You’ll be able to help your community by using alternative mental health techniques that can help them recover.
Assist in Research and Teaching
Another excellent way of gaining first-hand experience is by working with a specific psychologist and assisting them with research and teaching. To begin with, you could do research on mental health statistics, evaluate the data, and then document your findings to know which group needs your services.
Additionally, you can learn various aspects of psychology based on how they teach, especially if you’d like to become a teacher. You’ll also help the professors with grading student exams and be at the office to communicate with students who need help.
Apply for Entry Level Job
You can gain experience by applying for entry-level jobs in healthcare facilities. It may not pay as much as a licensed psychologist receives, but it enables you to gain unmatched experience. You can watch psychologists evaluate their patients and master the dynamics of patient assessment.
A career in psychology requires you to master and gain skills through experience. Basic classroom knowledge is good, but you must work with patients one-on-one, listen to their problems, and suggest better coping skills. So, consider interning, volunteering, assisting, and working entry-level jobs at credible hospitals or organizations to increase your experience.