Jennifer Wisneski, a Walden PhD in Psychology ̶ Clinical Psychology student, landed a Field Experience site by connecting with a potential site supervisor through LinkedIn. She is our guest blogger for this post.
The Challenge of Finding a Practicum
As I completed my coursework for the Clinical Psychology PhD program and started working on my dissertation, I knew it was time to explore field experience requirements. I started researching potential sites one year prior to securing a practicum and faced several challenges along the way. In my small town, I found very few sites with a full-time psychologist to provide supervision. Most psychologists I contacted worked in private practice or were close to retirement, neither willing to take on a student. Other sites made it difficult to get past the clerical staff to speak directly to the psychology department.
With the increased need for mental health services, it was incredibly surprising to exhaust my list of prospective sites in a few short months. I reached out to the Field Experience department at Walden, and they directed me to a website which manages a database of internships and allows students to apply for multiple opportunities. To utilize the database search, I needed to create a profile and upload my resume. After working for the same employer for the past nine years, I realized my resume was outdated. I decided to contact Career Services for help.
3 Helpful Tips from Career Services
During my initial phone call with Career Services, I received a brief overview of available services and learned what to expect from career advising appointments. The knowledge my career advisor managed to pack into the 45-minute session was well worth every minute! Specifically, I gained the following three tips from my career advisor to help me in my Field Experience search:
- First, I received many suggestions on how to improve my CV by using strong action words, being specific about my experience, and strengthening my accomplishments to showcase my level of professionalism in the human services field.
- Second, my career advisor suggested I build a profile on LinkedIn. I was unsure about using LinkedIn, but I was willing to try anything to network while searching for a practicum site. My career advisor taught me how to search for people in my field of interest using LinkedIn, which helped me make connections with potential site supervisors.
- Third, I learned how to set up a career portfolio that I could bring with me to interviews. I developed a portfolio to showcase my accomplishments, professional interests, and samples of my work.
A Surprise Call from a New LinkedIn Connection
It was incredible how quickly opportunities opened up after a few sessions working with Career Services. After I updated my CV and set up my LinkedIn profile, I started to connect with local professionals in the mental health field. To my amazement, within days of establishing my profile, I received a phone call from one of my new contacts on LinkedIn. She had just started in her role as Chief Psychologist at a local psychiatric hospital that week. I had been trying to set up a practicum at this site for over a year with no success. She told me the summary of my qualifications on my CV caught her attention. Within two weeks, I met with her for an interview. Referencing my portfolio during the interview made the process stress-free, and I secured the practicum position during the interview.
Ready for the Next Career Step
Having an updated CV, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile has allowed me to expand my professional network in many ways. I interviewed with three other sites for practicum and now I have several sites to consider for internship. This process has also improved my confidence and interviewing skills, and expanded my professional network. In addition to establishing a plan to finish my field experience and graduate in 2018, I have a great outlook to the start of my professional career!
Written by Jennifer Wisneski, PhD in Psychology-Clinical Psychology student, Walden University.