What’s It Like For a First-Timer to Attend APA Convention?

Posted in Advice, APA, Graduate School

This Denver, Colorado skyline awaits 2016 Conventioneers.

APA Convention is a great way to connect with your peers and with established psychologists. There are so many opportunities for networking, learning, and growth . Convention will be in Denver, Colorado from August 4 through 7, 2016.

We want to help you get there by providing funding through five APAGS Convention Travel Awards, each worth $500 in reimbursement. Additionally, we offer registration fee waivers for all APAGS member first-authors at Convention (learn more in our FAQ). Other directorates in APA (such as Science), along with several divisions, also offer special funding opportunities.

The deadline to submit a poster or program proposal is Tuesday, December 1 at 5pm EasternDon’t miss your opportunity to present at Convention and get connected!

One of last year’s travel grant winners — a doctoral student at Auburn University — shared her experiences with me about the process of applying for funds to attend the APA Convention in Toronto.

Heather Dade: Why did you decide to apply for our Convention Travel Award? 

Anne Conroy: I was excited at the opportunity to attend sessions, devote time to my professional development, and explore new surroundings.  I was going to get the opportunity to assist with my first symposium, and I was going to view the posters of my colleagues and friends.

Heather: We’re happy you applied. Tell me what you first thought about Convention when you got to Toronto. 

Anne: My excitement was somewhat replaced by a feeling of anxiety. I was overwhelmed by the size of, well, everything: The Convention guide resembled a phone book, and there was a sea of psychologists spread in every direction who seemed to know what they were doing.  How was I going to get the most out of this experience?

Heather: What did help you get a handle on this Convention? 

Anne: Attending the APAGS orientation and connecting with other APAGS ambassadors helped me feel less overwhelmed and made the convention seem more manageable.  As the conference progressed, I started to see familiar faces in the vast sea of psychologists and psychologists-in-training, which gave me reassurance that I would not be forever lost in my attempts to navigate from session to session.  I enjoyed conversing with my fellow APAGS ambassadors, many of whom were also attending their first APA conference.  We bonded over our mutual bewilderment at the sheer magnitude of the conference, along with our desire to make the most of the experience.

APAGS Ambassadors play a warm up game during orientation in Toronto, August 2015 .

APAGS Ambassadors play a warm-up game during orientation in Toronto, August 2015 .

Heather: Anne, how did you figure out how to fill your time at Convention?

Anne: In determining my schedule, I decided to attend several of the APAGS sessions, with the hope that attending programs geared toward graduate students would give me useful pieces of information to apply upon returning home.  I attended a session entitled, “Set Goals, Say No, and Still Graduate,” where I was able to create a timeline for completing my dissertation proposal, broken down into small, digestible pieces.  I was thoroughly pleased when I left the session, as I had a workable, reasonable time frame to present to my adviser!  I plan on applying the strategies learned in that session to other academic pursuits, including data collection and dissertation defense.

Heather: Did you go to anything else at Convention that you liked? 

Anne: Another APAGS session that provided me with incredibly beneficial information was the Internship Workshop.  While I am still at least one year away from applying for internship, I found the information to be useful in dispelling my fears around internship essays, selection of sites, and the like.  I took copious amounts of notes regarding how to communicate my personal and professional identity to site directors, along with tips regarding scheduling interviews and how to avoid being overwhelmed by the process.  I was so impressed with the APAGS programming at the convention that I encouraged other members from my program to attend APAGS sessions.

Heather: What would you say to another student who was considering applying?

Anne: I received numerous benefits beyond the monetary prize, including gaining valuable pieces of information that will serve me well as I continue my education and gaining contacts to whom I can reach out with questions.   I encourage all who are interested in applying to do so for next year’s convention.  You won’t regret it!

Writing About Psychological Science for the General Public

Posted in Advice, Graduate School

REPOST from the APA Psychological Science Agenda | November 2015

From The Science Student Council

Writing about psychological science for the general public

Considerations and strategies for effectively sharing your research with the world.

By Daniel R. Rovenpor

Imagine the following scenario: You spent years working on a project that aimed to produce a novel data-driven insight into a problem in the world. Then, with some luck, your work is successful and your insight gets published in a prestigious academic psychology journal. You hope that many people will see your article and learn about your insight, but you know that the chances are slim that the average person will see your article in an academic journal. This discrepancy between psychology’s potential to do good in the world and the fact that only a small fraction of the world’s population reads our journals is often frustrating. How can psychological scientists communicate to a broad audience? There are a number of ways to do this, including teaching, community outreach and advocacy. This article focuses on another way: writing for the general public.

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Getting a Tenure Track Position

Posted in Advice, Graduate School, Training Issues

While there are many jobs that psychologists can do well after graduation, tenure track professorships are among the positions that many students aspire to. Getting a tenure track faculty position right out of your doctoral program is not easy, but it can be done. Here, five new assistant professors in counseling psychology share tips on what they believe helped them be successful during the job application process last year. These (now) assistant professors were asked, “What made you competitive for a tenure track job?”

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Obtaining Clinical Experience Through an Undergraduate Applied Experience

Posted in Advice, Graduate School

If you are interested in applying to graduate school, obtaining clinical experience may be beneficial in creating a memorable graduate application, as well as preparing you for future graduate studies. Discussing your clinical experience both in your graduate applications and in interviews may provide the important hook that makes you stand out to admissions committees. Many universities offer variations of an “Applied Experience” or “Undergraduate Practicum.” This experience also allows you the opportunity to learn more about the population you are interested in working with and apply psychological principles in a multitude of settings or human services agencies.  It is important to realize that although doing an applied experience is a great opportunity to be exposed to specific populations experiencing a variety of psychological symptomatology, your role during an undergraduate applied experience or practicum is far different than that of the role you may expect in graduate school or as a clinician.

Steps to Obtaining an Applied Experience

1. Check your university’s course catalog that there is a practicum for course credit.
2. Identify your local human services agencies (referral agencies can be found on your County’s Human Services web page) and if applicable, faculty clinics.
3. Review the agencies and call the ones that serve the clients in whom you are interested.
4. Speak with your advisor and express your interest in a supervised volunteer experience for course credits.

Reflecting On My Experience
I opted to complete an Applied Experience with the Department of Child and Family Services in Corpus Christi, Texas.  At Child Protective Services (CPS), I had the unique opportunity of working with social workers and meeting with the licensed clinical psychologist who works with cases referred by CPS.  I was able to ask questions and understand the process of getting families the help and services that they need.  This was also my first opportunity to speak with a psychologist and learn about the day-to-day life of working with clients.  At CPS, I observed interviews between the caseworkers and children and shadowed caseworkers during home visits.  I attended court hearings and witnessed parents lose custody of their children and had the opportunity to provide guidance and modeling during parent- child supervised visits.  Each caseworker that I shadowed was such an inspiration to me and I was amazed at the training they received in self-care.  In a career that experiences so much burnout and stress, these social workers demonstrated the importance of mentally removing themselves from their jobs and “detaching from the office.”  This was one of the best pieces of advice that guides me as a graduate practicum student now working with my own clients.
This experience allowed me the opportunity to realize my interest in working with trauma cases and specifically survivors of childhood abuse.  When applying to graduate Clinical Psy.D. programs, I knew that I wanted to be in a program that would allow me the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge in the field of trauma psychology. If you are able to complete an applied experience, remember that it is what you take away from the experience that will help you to develop professionally and set you apart from other applicants!

Editor’s Note: Jenna Lyons is a third-year clinical PsyD student at Nova Southeastern University.

Living at the Intersection: Reflections on the Graduate Student Experience

Posted in Graduate School

A Moment in the Life of a Single Mom Graduate Student

Guest columnist: Teresa Hulsey, B.A., University of North Texas

I look at the clock. It is 2:00 in the morning and I can finally sleep after finishing my report. Suddenly, I wake to the sounds of my three-year-old daughter crying. I look at the clock again; it is 3:00 in the morning. I rush to her bedroom and recognize the telltale signs of a stomach virus. As I gather a change of clothes and carry her to the bathroom my mind begins to rush through all of the work that will have to wait, and all of the people I now need to reschedule with or notify that I will not be attending school. Despite knowing the understanding nature of both faculty and students, I am still frustrated that I cannot be two people at once: the single mom who takes care of her daughter and the graduate student who gets all of her work done on time.

Later, after contacting necessary people, no one implied that I am irresponsible or using my daughter as an excuse. Actually, everyone expressed concern, sent well wishes to my daughter, and relayed desires for me to get back to them later. Times like these contributed to me allowing myself the space to discover what life looks like for me as a mother and a graduate student. The best student I can be looks differently now that I have my daughter, and the best mom I can be has changed now that I am a student. I have spent this first year of graduate school learning and redefining what being the best me in these important life roles means.

Ultimately, my daughter reminds me that graduate school is not my life. I also discovered that the world will not end if I cannot attend school, am late to a meeting, or turn in late work. I have been able to witness how resilient my daughter is and that the quality of our time together can be more meaningful than the quantity. I have experienced the outpouring of love and support from close family and friends who contribute to my daughter’s development.

Advice from my mentor and program director significantly helped me this past year. These pieces of advice were to first, accept help and second, when completing work think “done, not perfect.” I still struggle with both of these, but am willing to appreciate that I am human. If I could go back,  I would tell myself to appreciate the struggles. The struggle represents being blessed to be a mother while able to pursue my passions. So, in that moment while my thoughts rushed about school as I carried my daughter to the bathroom, I then became aware of whom I was carrying. I realized that my daughter needed me in this moment, and all else could wait. The best me, even with the demands of school, refocused on her. This 3:00 AM moment filled with an assortment of stomach virus symptoms warranted appreciation. This was a moment I could never get back.

This column is part of a series highlighting the experiences of students and professionals with diverse intersecting identities and is sponsored by the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity and the Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Are you interested in sharing about your own navigation of intersecting identities in graduate school? We would be happy to hear from you! To learn more, please contact the chair of APAGS CSOGD (Julia Benjamin, jzbenjam@gmail.com) or CARED (James Garcia, jjg0136@gmail.com)