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A Professional's Guide to Psychology Internship Experiences

Thank you for your interest in Portland State University internships. The Purpose of this page is to provide you with answers to basic questions about the PSU Psychology Internship Program. Simply click each question for the answer or scroll down through the page to learn more.

What are the purposes of internships?
What options do students have to receive applied experiences?
Who can submit an internship position description to PSU Department of Psychology?
Which students are eligible for internships?
What type of internship arrangements can be made?
Can a current student employee participate in an internship with my organization?
What, if any, requirements does PSU have about intern remuneration?
What are the requirements of for-credit internships?
Who covers student worker's compensation insurance?
When should I list an internship with the Department of Psychology?
How do I advertise an internship?
Who matches students to internship opportunities?
If I post an internship, am I guaranteed that position will be filled?
Who should I contact at Portland State for more information about these programs?

What are the purposes of internships?

Internships have two primary purposes:
1. To match psychology student educational goals with community and organization needs.
2. To provide students with practical experiences which reinforce their academic experiences.

What options do students have to receive applied experiences?

1. Internship – A preparatory experience for working in the field after graduation, an internship is intended to
a) place the student in practice settings for research and/or project-based experience;
b) engage the student in group supervision and reflection which both examines professional matters that arise in practice and problem-solves around executing projects and research in diverse organizational settings; and
c) develop student awareness of and ability to apply standards for ethical research and professional practice.

Primary responsibility for student supervision rests with the community partner supervisor.

2. Community-based learning course – Some courses at PSU are designated as Community Based Learning (CBL) courses. Through these courses, a group of students works with community partner groups, agencies, or citizens, to bring the intellectual resources of the University to bear on important local or regional topics related to their classroom learning. An example is Community Psychology (PSY 480), which links a student team with a community partner for 1 year in order to work on projects designed jointly by a faculty member and the community partner. These projects allow students to practice skills and concepts learned in the classroom environment.

Primary responsibility for supervision rests with the course instructor, although community partners are expected to play an active role in supervising the student team.

For further information visit PSU's CBL Portfolio and PSU Community Psychology.

Who can submit an internship position description to PSU Department of Psychology?

Any profit or not-for-profit that wishes to support students' academic experiences with on-the-job experience. An internship, like any other employment opportunity, should operate on the principle of exchange. The student intern gains experience and skills in a particular area of psychology; the organization has the opportunity to complete an important project or set of work tasks. An intern must have a supervisor who can guide his/her work and be available to answer questions.

Which students are eligible for internships?

All psychology undergraduate and graduate students may participate in internships. However, graduate students often wait until they have completed the first two years of their coursework before they apply for internships.

What type of internship arrangements can be made?

There are two possible internship arrangements:
1. Paid or Unpaid Internship with Academic Credit
2. Paid or Unpaid Internships with No Academic Credit

Can a current student employee participate in an internship with my organization?

Students often ask if they can arrange an internship with their present employer or organization. Each request must be handled individually. It may be permissible if the internship involves working on a project that is distinct from their regular job tasks and involves work that is directly relevant to psychology. For further clarification of this issue, please contact the student's faculty sponsor.

What, if any, requirements does PSU have about intern remuneration?

There are several key issues surrounding paid internships. According to Oregon State Law, employers can offer paid or unpaid intern positions to students receiving academic internship credit. For further clarification of these issues, please contact the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (503-731-4200). For information on current average pay rates for student interns contact Psychology Department Offices

What are the requirements of for-credit internships?

Students decide whether they want to receive academic credit for an internship arrangement. If they pursue academic credit, they are required to locate a faculty sponsor. Their sponsor monitors their work, checks on their progress, assigns homework and issues a grade. There is no administrative work for employers regarding student academic credit. However, the faculty sponsor may ask the supervisor to fill out an evaluation form or participate in an informal discussion about the student's performance. Students with questions about credit procedures and requirements should be referred to their sponsoring faculty member. Periodically, sponsoring faculty will visit or phone employers to see how their intern is progressing.

Who covers student worker's compensation insurance?

Portland State University does not provide insurance for students working away from campus. Students or recent graduates working in paid intern positions are covered by the employer's worker's compensation insurance.

When should I list an internship with the Department of Psychology?

Employers may list internship opportunities year-round. Student demand for internships is greatest at the end of each academic year. Positions may fill in the January to March time frame for the coming summer.

How do I advertise an internship?

1. To advertise a student internship, contact one of the faculty members who coordinate internships. They will send you an Internship Announcement Form. Describe the internship on the form as specifically as you can. For example, if you are seeking a student who can work more than one academic term, indicate that on the listing form. Similarly, if you want students with particular skills, please be sure to note those skills on the form.

2. Submit the form via email or deliver the form to department offices (see contact info below). The listing will be posted to student bulletin boards within 48 hours.

3. Wait for resumes to arrive. Some employers contact students as soon as individual resumes arrive. Others wait, receiving several resumes before they phone applicants. Formal interviews are encouraged.

4. Select your intern.

5. Please notify the department offices when you have selected your intern, so we can congratulate the student and remove your listing notice. We will continue to refer students to your intern listing (and fax student resumes) until we hear from you the position is filled.

Who matches students to internship opportunities?

The matching of students and partners is done by the parties themselves. Students select opportunities that match their professional interests and goals. Organizations select students that meet their project needs. PSU psychology students visit the departmental bulletin boards and check departmental electronic bulletin boards regularly looking for intern opportunities. When they identify internships in their interest area, they either respond directly, following your application instructions, or consult with their advisors for application assistance. Departmental offices provide general assistance and faxing services to psychology students applying for intern positions.

If I post an internship, am I guaranteed that position will be filled?

The Department of Psychology promotes internship opportunities to students; however, employers should be aware there are no guarantees that their intern positions will be filled. Students choose intern positions of interest to them, and often apply for multiple positions. Students also are more likely to choose positions that are compensated and that have flexible schedules. Employers are welcome to keep their listings open for as long as they like.

Who should I contact at Portland State for more information about these programs?

The graduate program is divided into three areas of practice. The program pages linked below provide detailed descriptions of these programs. If your internship does not fit into one of these areas, please contact the main office of the psychology department to be referred to the most appropriate faculty member.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology – Donald Truxillo, Ph.D. (email)
Applied Social & Community Psychology – Jan Haaken, Ph.D. (email)
Developmental Psychology – Ellen Skinner, Ph.D. (email)

Address for all Portland State Faculty:

Portland State University
Department of Psychology
P.O. Box 751
317 Cramer Hall
Portland, OR 97207-0751