By Andrea Alvarado
Waiting to hear back from internship sites is really difficult. It’s not the waiting really, but the rejections. Did you know that you could get waitlisted for an interview? If not, now you do. What’s even worse is the waiting for Match
Day and the fate that waits you. This year, Match Day for psychology internships is February 17th. Since I am waiting, I have decided to enlighten you on my experience of the interview process and provide you with some helpful tips.
First of all, just know that you are going to be tired. Traveling to and from your interview sites, all the while maintaining your various jobs back home, will make you exhausted. You may forget what day it is, and even maybe what city or state you are in. I met a few people who had this happen to them. By the end of the interview process most people have the same worn out-always stressed look on their face. Don’t worry, as your regular face will return soon.
During the interview process, make sure to pay attention to how you physically feel at the sites. Are you getting a stressed out feeling from the current interns? Do they seem overworked and too tired to function? When you interview with staff psychologists (who may one day be your supervisors) pay attention to how supportive they feel to you. You will get a flavor of the site and the people who make up the internship. I don’t think this was stressed enough to me. I know that at one site I was nervous the whole time and the interviewers all seemed on edge. At another site, I felt welcomed and relax as soon as I walked in. I personally don’t want to intern at a site that make me feel uncomfortable all the time or that uses me as a work mule. I want a site that will help me grow as a psychologist and will support me in that journey.
You may have to submit to a group interview. I only had one of these, but I thoroughly did not enjoy it. However, you can really see the personalities of people come out. I think I interviewed with 11 other people. We all had to answer and in no particular order. That means that there people who were always jumping to answer first and then there were ones who waited more towards the end. I think it’s best to mix it up and demonstrate that you are well rounded and can lead and follow in a group setting. I found it annoying when an intern candidate would say their answer and the next person would say, “to piggy back off of that…” and then continued to pretty much say the same thing. There were a lot of answers that were just repeats. I think it’s helpful to use real world examples in your explanation. There usually was not a right or wrong answer. The interviewers want to see how you interact in a group and the perspectives you can bring. Some people would also tack on to the end of their answer “and this is why this site is a great fit” or stress that they really wanted the site because it was APA approved. I think mentioning this once or twice is ok. I think it’s better to mention that the site is a great fit in your individual interview.
Now onto clothing. Wear something that is comfortable and professional. However, I found it helpful to put a little personality with my outfit. Many of my interviews I attended seemed like the sites had ordered interview candidates from a factory. Each person wore black slacks, a black blazer, a blouse, and black flats or short heels. Everyone looked exactly the same. Even wearing a gray suit set people a part from the masses. I wore a tie to two of my interviews. I was comfortable and still professional, but I stood out a little bit. Not too much. In one of my interviews, I was complemented on it by the training director as soon we all filed into the conference room. It was unique but not in a bad way. So find something that can make you stand out a little, but not too much. That can make you memorable. One of my friends was asked during their interview, how the site would be able to remember them from everyone else. Wear something a little unique, or wear a piece of jewelry or clothing item that has a story with it.
My last tip is to make sure you have support. There are so many people that are rooting for me, many of which I did not think would care that much. I keep all of my 4 supervisors informed, as well as my family, close friends, and girlfriend. Even if you don’t want to tell them about the rejections, I found that they help keep my spirits up and encourage me. Especially after I receive bad news.
Overall, I think that applying for APA internships and going through the process has been the most challenging part of graduate school. I hope I have shed some light on the process and hope some of these tips help.