Every February thousands of doctoral psychology students anxiously wait to see if they’ve matched to an internship site through APPIC. The reality is that there are many qualified students who don’t match.

This is an unfortunate result of the APPIC internship crisis. The good news is that internship match rates are rising.

So how can you plan for a “no match” result? There are plenty of things you can do to earn a living while building your CV if you don’t match for an internship through APPIC.

I’ll share with you the four options I explored in the event that I didn’t match.

1. Find Another Practicum Site

The APPIC match date is towards the end of February. Uniform notification day for most practicum sites is in April.

Practicum sites accept applications in January and February with interviews in March. If you don’t match, you need to contact your director of training. They’ll have a list of practicum sites that are still accepting applications.

If there is a site you really want and their application deadline has passed, contact them anyway and explain your situation. You can also talk to the director of training at your current site and they might let you stay another year.

You have to be proactive and advocate for yourself if you want to find a good site.

Advantages:

  • The application process for a practicum site is relatively easy. You can reuse most of your APPIC materials like your CV and essays.
  • You’ll accrue more face-to-face hours for your APPIC application.
  • You can gain clinical experience and another reference letter.
  • Practicum sites are part-time positions, so you’ll have time to work on your dissertation or explore other options.

Disadvantages:

  • Competitive sites might not be accepting applications.
  • Practicum sites rarely offer stipends.

2. Find A Paid Training Position

In some states, these are called “psychological assistants.”  Psychological assistantships are paid positions that allow you to provide psychological services under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Some states require you to register as a psych assistant before providing services. Check with your state’s Board of Psychology to see what their rules are. If your supervisor provides you with weekly supervision (and if your school allows it), you can count your face-to-face hours on your APPIC application.

This option requires you to be very proactive and advocate for yourself. There more than likely isn’t going to be a list of psych assistant positions at your school.

Here Are 5 Ways To Find A Psych Assistant Position:

1. Contact Old Supervisors
Contact your old practicum supervisors and see if they have any part-time or full-time positions. They know who you are and are more likely to hire you.

Explain your current situation – every psychologist was once a student in your position. Most will be able to relate to you and might be willing to help you out.

Several of my colleagues who didn’t match contacted old supervisors, and they were able to get part-time and full-time jobs. The worst thing that anyone can say is “no.”

2. Contact Your Professors
It’s time you leverage the connections you’ve built over the years. Contact professors that you have good relationships with. Some professors do private practice work outside of school and they might be able to take you on.

If they’re not looking for anyone, they might know a colleague who is looking for help. Ask them if they can put in a good word for you to help you get a position.

3. Search Online
You’d be amazed how many great jobs you can find on Craig’s List, Indeed, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, or Monster. I found a great psych assistant position through Craig’s List.

You have to be creative with what keywords and titles you use to find a position. In addition to searching for “psych assistant,” search for “psychology student,” “psychology intern,” or “psychology jobs.” The job I found was listed as a “psychometrist.”

Spend some time looking through the listings and you can find a great position. You can also set up alerts to notify you if a new job is posted that matches your keywords.

4. Contact Private Practices
If you live in a metropolitan area, there are hundreds of private practices close by. Think about what your niche is and the areas that you would like to work in.

For example, if you’re interested in doing DBT work, do a Google search for “DBT psychologist + your city” and see what comes up. You can also look up private practices on Psychology Today or Good Therapy.

Put together a list of the private practices that you are interested in. Email the practice with your CV and cover letter or give them a call.

Don’t take it personally when you get turned down. Be persistent and keep trying – all you need is one practice to say “yes.”

5. Get On A Listserv
There are several national, state, and local psychology associations that have student rates. Most have Listservs. Do a Google search for “your location + psychological association” and you’ll find some in your area.

Private practice clinicians send out requests for positions all the time. You can also send out messages via the Listserv and a psychologist might respond.

Make sure you read the rules of the Listserv before you send out a message!  Not all Listservs allow solicitations.

Advantages:

  • Psych assistantships pay very well. Some people who do this make $25 an hour.
  • If your school allows it (mine did), you can count your face-to-face hours on your APPIC application for next year.
  • You’ll gain valuable clinical experience and a reference letter.

Disadvantages:

  • Psych assistantships are harder to find.
  • Get used to being turned down a lot. You’ll have be very persistent and do a good job of selling yourself.

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3. Be A Research Assistant

This applies more to students who are at professional schools with professors who do research. Leverage the connections you’ve built and ask to see if they will let you join them in their research.

Advantages:

  • You’ll strengthen your CV by adding research experience.
  • You might have the opportunity to present at a conference or have your name on a publication.
  • Most research assistant positions are part-time, so you’ll have time to do other things.

Disadvantages:

  • You probably won’t be paid.
  • Research assistant positions are rarely advertised and are harder to find.

4. Be Teacher’s Assistant

What were your favorite courses? What courses did you do really well in? Contact the professors you’ve built good relationships with and ask them if they’re looking for a teacher’s assistant.

Advantages:

  • You’ll build up your CV, gain teaching experience, and a reference letter.
  • Some TA positions are part of work-study programs, so you’ll earn a small stipend.
  • TA positions are part-time, so you’ll have time to work on other things.

Disadvantages:

  • TA positions can be hard to find.
  • They require a time commitment outside of class to grade papers and exams, or meet with students.

Several grad students I know used a combination of these options to earn money, build their CVs, and get great reference letters. They were all able to match the following year!

Were any of these tips helpful? Were you able to successfully use them? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Emin Gharibian, PsyD

Emin Gharibian, PsyD

Emin Gharibian, PsyD received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the California Institution for Men (Chino State Prison) in Chino, CA. His previous clinical experiences have been at adult and juvenile forensic facilities doing individual and group therapy with inmates with severe mental illness. He also specializes in doing therapeutic assessment and psychological malingering evaluations in forensic settings. Dr. Gharibian has also been a reserve police officer for over 5 years. He has a passion for working with police officers and helping them work through the stressors and challenges associated with police work. He is completing his post-doctoral fellowship at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Psychological Services Bureau as a law enforcement psychologist. In his spare time he enjoys working out, going to the shooting range, and writing about police psychology topics on his blog, DrGharibian.com.
Emin Gharibian, PsyD

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