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college counselor

I am considering getting a master's to become a college counselor for higher education. I have a bachelors in psychology. I would like to know if there are opportunities to get more experience in that field, whether through volunteering or internships.

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Jen !

Great question. I am happy to know that you already have your Bachelors in Psychology and that you seem very ambitious. With your Bachelors degree, you could probably obtain employment in a related field and wouldn't have to volunteer or do an internship. You can see about becoming a social service case manager and other Bachelor level jobs that could help you with experience and financial support while you go for your Masters. Pick a population that you want more experience working with and apply for positions at those agencies. In the school district where I live, all school counselors must be certified in order to provide counseling to students.

A wonderful place to work for the experience and also to earn some money would be at an Independent Living Center. These centers are non-profit agencies that provide services to people that have a disability. Agencies as such usually have many departments/programs geared to different populations and there is inevitably the opportunity to use your counseling skills. Since you live in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, there should be a lot of opportunities for you. Many social service agencies give a lot of trainings, conferences and workshops while you are working there.

If you definitely specifically want the internship or volunteer work, inquire about those opportunities at those same agencies, but I believe that you can actually get a paying job. It's for you to decide based upon what your plans are. I do not know if schools have volunteer or internships that will allow non-staff to counsel students. Any experience you obtain will help, though.

I hope that this has been of some help and I wish you a wonderful career and I know that you will be helping many people.

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

https://calsilc.ca.gov/independent-locator/ INDEPENDENT LIVING CENTER LIST FOR EMPLOYMENT, VOLUNTEERING OR INTERNSHIP
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your advice and the helpful link Jen
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Jen ! Michelle M.
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Jerome’s Answer

Huge believer in volunteering with non-profits. I’d wager there are some opportunities to get great experience while supporting organizations who focus on the area you hope to land in.

You can also end up with great referrals and some amazing connections!
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Shirley’s Answer

As a future college counselor, your role is vital in supporting students generally and holistically so they can achieve success throughout their college years. There are volunteer and internship opportunities to get experience in the field. Like other careers that involve counseling, your degree in psychology is a plus. Additional skills that may help you get a volunteer or internship position in college counseling include:
• Verbal and written communication
• Critical thinking
• Active listening
Colleges and universities often announce relevant paid (or unpaid) work opportunities for currently enrolled graduate students, so I would encourage you to pursue your master’s degree in college/academic counseling. As a grad student, you can make valuable contacts within the field and hear of employment opportunities that you may not have otherwise known about.
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Jen
Thank you comment icon You're welcome, Jen. All the best to you! Shirley Orille Brazis
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