How to Gain Experience in Psychology While Still Studying

Knowledge gained during lectures is valuable but useless unless properly applied. For this reason, every student should always seek the way to develop own skills outside the classroom. International students studying psychology in the US are not the exception. They should be able to show own capability of using theory in practice to potential employers regardless of the specialization pursued. Fortunately, there are many ways to get hands-on experience and plunge into the atmosphere of self-improvement. Some of them are internships, volunteering, assistantships, and post-doctoral programs. Find out how to profit from them.


An internship usually means involvement in research or the assistance in taking care of people who face various mental challenges or suffer from disabilities. Being not common, internships in psychology are still very popular among students. Therefore, to become an intern, you are likely to be required to withstand an application process. If offered a position, you might be asked to help in a laboratory or with conducting an experiment. You may collect data, aid with editing and analyzing them, and even work with people in need of psychological guidance. Thus, although difficult to find, an internship in the field of psychology can serve as a major source of new knowledge.

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A more accessible and trendy method to gain experience in psychology is an assistantship. It implies working as a teaching or research assistant. The former usually helps professors with fulfilling certain responsibilities, for instance, checking and grading essays of undergraduate students, consulting them during office hours, and carrying out exam reviews. If a professor trusts you wholeheartedly, you may be even allowed to conduct class discussions and or even course. An extensive range of duties will eventually result in a set of new skills and abilities, namely those of composing interesting and effective lectures, creating a syllabus, or structuring a course. As a research assistant, you will participate in the functioning of a laboratory or conducting an experiment. You will learn about data collection as well as statistical methods to analyse them. If you are one of those students who would like to pursue the career of a researcher or teacher, assistantship is for you.


In case you are ready to gain experience in psychology and help people in need without a possibility to earn, you may opt for volunteering. Usually, there is a number of volunteering opportunities for international students. For example, community centers for kids with psychological disabilities, namely autism or dyslexia will gladly welcome a student with the relevant background. Apart from receiving experience, volunteering will add attractiveness to your CV. Organizations that offer positions for volunteers can be found with the help of a prospective department of your university or in local newspapers and websites. Although volunteering does not provide financial benefits, it is still worth trying.

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A Post-Doctoral Program

This method is suitable for those who in the process of obtaining the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology realized that they lack experience and need to work with a professional researcher before actually stepping on a career path. Applying for a post-doctoral program in another institution will enable you to gain a new perspective and learn about methods of problem solving. Luckily, the opportunities to do it are abundant. Of course, these programs will bring the most benefits to those who intent to work as researchers. However, they might also be helpful for international students willing to master a specific technique, for instance, interpreting fMRI images, i.e., brain scans. Not every educational institution has the scanners, but this knowledge is indispensable for psychologists. Thus, a post-doctoral program is a chance to profit from the advanced equipment, which is probably absent in your university.

In conclusion, if there is a desire to gain experience in psychology, there is always the way to do it. International students have a range of options to choose from. Regardless of whether you select an assistantship, volunteering, or any other variant, you will not be disappointed. You will surely enjoy meeting professional psychologists, researchers, and teachers as well as benefiting from their desire to share knowledge with you.

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