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How do I get experience as a Psychology Student?

I am graduating soon with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. I see that most of the jobs I've found that accept a bachelor's degree in Psychology also requires experience (e.g 1 year in Mental Health) but these are entry jobs. How do I get experience for these jobs if I'm trying to apply to these jobs For the experience? #psychology

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Jared’s Answer

Hi Denise!

First, unless the job specifically says the experience is a requirement they’re not flexible on, it’s often times more of a guideline. If you really want the job you have nothing to lose by applying - and you might get the interview!

One way to get the experience would be through labs and internships. As you’re graduating soon I’m not sure that’s an option anymore? Unfortunately a bachelors in psychology doesn’t qualify anyone for specialized positions (speaking from experience - I had to get a masters for my job). That leaves you with a few options:

You could go to grad school to get a specialized degree.

You could also get a job in the field, but maybe not exactly the job you want (I.e. an assistant or admin job in a counselors office if you’re interested in mental health). This will give you exposure to the industry and set you up for the next job when the opportunity presents itself.

You could also find volunteer opportunities in the community or online related to the work you want to be doing which will get you closer to the 1 year of experience. For example, I wanted to practice my presenting and facilitation skills, so I volunteered for a local organization that develops leadership skills in diverse college students. I had a weekly 1-hour workshop and 1:1 coaching with all my students. That helped me get my next job where facilitation was a big part of it.

Best of luck!

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Hwal’s Answer

Denise,

Congratulations on almost completing your bachelor's degree! A psychology degree can be so useful and versatile in how it can help you land a job, depending what specific field you're interested in. What sort of jobs have you been looking at, Denise? There's bound to be open positions that don't require experience, so it might be helpful to widen your search.

Another option is to use an internship or volunteer position to get your foot in the door, because these usually don't require previous experience. It might also be helpful to reach out to classmates, faculty members, and/or the career center on your campus to have their input and ask for advice or tips. I hope this helps.

Good luck!

Hwal

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Clemente’s Answer

Hi Denise,

First and foremost, I recommend taking stock of the skills you have learned as a result of your psych degree. Being able to clearly articulate (using concrete examples) and leverage these skills to find employment will be of tremendous value. Here is an article highlighting skills a psych degree allows students to develop - The Skillful Psychology Student: Prepares for Success in the 21st Century Workplace.

After taking stock of your skills, think about what you'd like to do with your degree (based on your post, I'm guessing "mental health") and find ways to further cultivate the skills needed for the occupation.

Some recommendations for gaining experience:

  • Internships
  • A senior thesis project
  • Becoming a research assistant
  • Volunteer work

Hope this helps!

Best,

Clemente

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