For my Princeternship experience, I shadowed alumni Alison Papadakis, Ph.D. ‘97, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola University in Maryland. For three days, I attended classes, spoke with professors about their research, and learned more about the university’s Psy.D. program.
Dr. Papadakis and I met in her office at 8:30 am on Monday, January 27th. After some brief introductions, we walked across the quad to her 9 am class—Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. This course is designed to help second year graduate students prepare their dissertation proposals. For the first hour, Dr. Papadakis discussed organization and time management techniques. She then dismissed Chelsea (a fellow Princetern) and me so we could travel to the Loyola Clinical Center (LLC). There, we received a tour of the facility from Dr. La Keita Carter, the LLC Psychology Division Director. The LLC specializes in four main areas: psychology, speech-language pathology, audiology, and pastoral counseling. Graduate students in the Psy.D. program have the opportunity to train there under supervision and receive detailed feedback on their clinical techniques. We ended the tour in Dr. Carter’s office and asked her more about the training opportunities the Psy.D. program offered. After some free time, we met four first-year graduate students (i.e. Psy.D. candidates) for lunch. They shared their experiences as grad students, detailing everything from the application process to their day-to-day schedules. My impression was that the first year or two in the program was very similar to the undergrad experience—lots of time in class and a minimal amount of time in the field. I like how the program doesn’t force your clinical experience; it offers it to you in manageable chunks and allows you to gradually acclimate yourself to meeting with clients and creating an action plan for treatment. Chelsea and I ended the day by attending an undergraduate course called “The Psychology of Women.” We talked about gender vs. sex and the outside influences that determine our personal view of men and women.
After briefly checking in with Dr. Papadakis in the morning, Chelsea and I attended “Introduction to Counseling,” an undergraduate course designed to introduce students to the roles and practices of a clinician. We discussed how counseling is a collaborative work process between the counselor and client. The counselor should be in the middle of a spectrum that spans from directing the client’s life on one extreme and leaving the client to work out their problems alone on the other. Next, I met with Dr. Matt Kirkhart, an associate professor of psychology. He talked about his career path and how over the past few years his interests have shifted from doing research and clinical work to teaching. He felt that it was a natural progression and is very content with his current position. After that, Chelsea and I had lunch with one third-year and two fourth-year graduate students. They, of course, were able to offer a very different perspective of the program. In these years, the students apply to externships at clinics and hospitals not affiliated with Loyola University. They still check in with their advisers and may take a class or two, but most of their work is independent. The fourth-years are currently applying to internships for next year—jobs that will place them in the field full-time. Once you successfully complete your internship and dissertation, you are rewarded with your Psy.D. degree and can continue on to practice or go into teaching, depending on your interests. After lunch, I attended two graduate courses—“Principles and Practices of Psychotherapy” and “Introduction to Health Psychology”.
On the last day, I had two more individual meetings with professors Dr. Marianna Carlucci and Dr. Frank Golom. The former is a forensic psychologist interested in the intersection of psychology and law and the latter is an IO (Industrial/ Organizational) psychologist. It was very interesting to hear about their experiences. As a prospective cognitive psychologist primarily interested in research, it was refreshing to hear about the other options that exist outside of academia. To end the day, Dr. Papadakis treated me and Chelsea to lunch. She discussed her experiences as a Ph.D. student and gave us more information about how that program differs from a Psy.D. program. She also reminisced about her time at Princeton and gave us advice about how to proceed with our education/career goals in the coming years.
Overall, this was a very rewarding experience. Talking with Dr. Papadakis and other professors really gave me some clarity about the graduate school process and the different ways I can use my degree once I obtain it. It was also useful to learn more about the Psy.D. program. Although, I am not currently considering going into the clinical field, it was nice to learn about alternative options to the Ph.D. I now feel that I have a more complete understanding of the different areas of psychology. This knowledge is invaluable to me, especially considering my plan to attend graduate school within the next few years. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and encourage anyone considering any type of psychology to attend this Princeternship if it is offered again. Don’t limit yourself to only the things you think you are interested in—explore everything and you won’t regret it!