You’ve worked long and hard and put huge amounts of energy into your chosen profession, and now you’re entering your postgraduate year.
As you look for a great site that will utilize your skill-set, it’s also important to have a plan for making the most of this final year of training. In this article, I will share some of the things that I wish I had known prior to beginning my postgraduate year.
Behind every great applicant there are two main things: the paper and the person. The paper consists of the CV you’ve fine-tuned, the cover letters you’ve toiled over, the essays you’ve edited and re-edited, and anything else that a reviewer is receiving by e-mail or snail mail. You get a lot of time to perfect your materials and you wait for that exciting moment when you receive the invitation to interview.
Now it’s time for the person to shine.
We are often bombarded with statements like, “Keep striving!” and “Never settle.” These seemingly motivational statements keep us on a path of determination that keeps us moving towards our goal. Or do they?
What if I were to tell you the key to grad school is not to “never settle” but rather to settle momentarily, until your next endeavor? That’s what I experienced, and that is where I think the magic happened.
I took 10 years to complete my doctoral program, and had two children in the meantime. By the time I was finishing my internship, most of my matriculating cohort had passed their licensure exams and were starting their careers. I had a sense of urgency come over me every day. I started looking at post-docs before I had finished my internship. I started thinking about opening my own practice before I landed a post-doc.
You did it! You finished all of your graduate school course work, defended your dissertation, completed your internship and now you are ready for the next step—a postdoctoral residency or fellowship (most commonly known as a “postdoc”).
After all your hard work, you only have one more obstacle to overcome and you’re on the road to licensure. Whether you have decided to complete a formal postdoctoral residency or to informally collect your postdoctoral hours for licensure, there are several factors to consider during your postdoc year. Not all paths to licensure are the same, and different approaches can ultimately get you to the same goal. However, there are some generally consistent guidelines regarding what the next steps look like.
A few years ago, my best friend (unintentionally) made me feel a bit anxious. We were talking about interpersonal psychology, social skills, and the key to a healthy friendship, when he turned to me and said, “You know too much about this to just keep it to yourself. You should write a book.”
Who, me? No way.
I’m a small potatoes farm boy, and I grew up in a town where it was a major feat to graduate high school, let alone college. Despite the fact that I was in a doctoral program, the idea of adding my name to the shelf felt too far from my core identity. Books were written by inspiring, knowledgeable, and wise people — not people like me.
And yet, my friend’s words stuck with me.
In the fall of 2018, I finally did it. I published my first book.
If you are thinking about postdoctoral positions, you have likely survived graduate school, the internship match, a doctoral dissertation defense, and are close to being able to tack “Dr.” to the beginning of your name for the rest of your life. Congratulations!
After the relief of securing internship training, it may come as a surprise when your internship supervisors encourage you to think about postdoc fellowships in just the first weeks of internship. Regardless of career goals, most clinical psychology students end up pursuing postdoc training. Postdoc training is required for licensure in most US states, and also required for American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) certification.