At this time two years ago, I was starting to think about finishing my first year internship and what I was looking for in my second year internship.
For a little bit of background, my first year internship was at a foster family agency (FFA). I learned a lot, and I was lucky to get a unique experience. Many of my peers had similar first and second year experiences. This helped them build great clinical skills in their areas, though, for some, they did not have quite the diverse experience that they would have liked.
Option #1: A Good Choice But Not What I Was Looking For
Since I had my first year experience at an FFA, I had the option of applying to a DCFS internship and getting a stipend. Of course, I would have to work at DCFS for a certain amount of years after graduating (I forgot how long). There isn’t much other reason why I did not choose this other than the simple fact that it was not what I wanted. I wanted to build some clinical skills in a therapy setting.
Option #2: All the Options
So, if I didn’t want a DCFS internship, I had seemingly endless options with my school (the University of Southern California for full transparency). I could have chosen any internship, and there were some truly great ones. It would have been great experience to look into hospitals, nonprofits, etc. To understand why I didn’t look for just any internship that would allow me to be a therapist, I have to explain option #3.
Option #3: PPSC
I was lucky that my school offered me the ability to get my PPSC (CA credential that allows clinicians to work in schools) while in school. I thought this would be my best option for two main reasons:
- It would mean could be a therapist, which is what I wanted.
- Even though I did not want to work in schools, I might want to one day, and it would be very difficult to get my PPSC after graduating. (Summers off and a school schedule might be cool when I have kids.)
Really, that’s it. I wanted to give myself the most options for after I graduated, and this seemed right. It was the best way for me to broaden my options.
Narrowing Down the Option Even Further
Okay, so this meant that I had to choose a school to intern at. While all readers may not relate to this specifically, you may relate to how I narrowed it down.
Certifications- First things first, I wanted to see if I could find an internship that could help me get certified in any evidence-based practices. I wrote down any internship that offered such a thing. Hey, looks good on a resume.
DMH– Some internships were Dept. of Mental Health contracted. As many MSWs know, DMH experience is highly marketable. Also, it would help me if I were to choose to apply to a DMH contracted agency after graduation (which I did). So, I also looked for any internships that would allow me to get DMH experience.
Population- Last but certainly not least, I looked for internships that would help me work with the population I wanted to work with (low income families). Although I listed this last, it actually was the thing that informed my #1 choice for an internship.
Again, my mentality was: I want an internship that will give me the most options after I graduated (aka give me good experience, especially if it could make me more marketable).
I am very grateful that I was able to get an internship that offered all everything I ultimately wanted. Perhaps my experience will help you narrow down your internship choices as well.
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