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?”
The Fall 2015 round of applicants for internship will be greeted with a new feature that levels the playing field for everyone entering the pool: the Standardized Reference Form (SRF). Over the course of two years, a working group from the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) collaborated to improve the process of evaluating applicants in a way that was meaningful to reviewers and equitable for students.
Instead of the sometimes vague letters students may have received in the past, this form asks for writers to speak to specific competencies that are relevant to training in a narrative format. This includes student strengths and areas for growth. We all have both, and now there won’t be a penalty for honest assessments of where students are in their skills and abilities before internship. It even allows for recommenders to indicate the years they trained you, so that the reviewers can see your developmental progression.
We don’t expect this letter to influence the match statistics, but the intention is that it results in a better fit for the intern and the site. CCTC will continue to work with The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) to evaluate the letter in the next year, allowing the form to evolve and improve over time. Students are welcomed to share feedback about it as well.
Most change requires adjustment and a little anxiety, but here are some “To Dos” to assist students with making this a smooth transition:
- Go to the AAPI and download the SRF for yourself to see how you will be evaluated. Write a letter on yourself to self-assess on the competencies being addressed.
- Tell all your cohort members to do the same. Spread the word.
- Give anyone who may be writing a letter for you a copy of the SRF well in advance, especially if they’ve written letters before. This allows them to have a heads up on the new format, in case they have not yet been introduced. Share the FAQs with them, to answer any questions.
- Talk with your recommenders about the SRF and how you see your strengths and areas for growth related to each competency. Make the process collaborative, especially if they have not seen the progression of your skills.
APAGS continues to work on the internship crisis and standardizing the way interns are evaluated is one piece of the larger puzzle. Check back here for any updates about the SRF along the way.
In the first of our series on Celebrating Excellent Training, we have an entry from Nicholas Grant highlighting the awesome experience at the Clinical Psychology PhD program of Palo Alto University:
The PhD Clinical Psychology Program at Palo Alto University (PAU), Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP) is dedicated to putting graduate students first as they train for a career as a psychologist in today’s ever-changing world. The program integrates teaching in both science and practice, with a major focus on diversity as students begin on the lifelong professional endeavor of cultural competence. Perhaps the most influential parts of my training at PAU have been the dedication to diversity in research, clinical work and beyond, coupled with commitment that the faculty and staff have towards the development of the students. From the availability of faculty advisors to the outstanding commitment of the staff, from the Office of Professional Development to the Director of Clinical Training, the entire community unites in order to support students as they matriculate through the program. The training and support I have received thus far at PAU have made me feel confident as a culturally informed psychologist in training who is about to graduate and enter the early stages of my career.
Great job PAU! Keep them coming APAGS! Celebrate your awesome programs!
Is your training program doing an excellent job of preparing you as a future psychologist? If so, APAGS wants to know.
As Member at Large – Education Focus, one of my goals was to highlight programs that do what works well for student success. We often focus on our disappointments and areas where we need advocacy in training, but there are a number of students who feel pretty good about their training. The voices of these students are also important, because one way to improve training is to know who is doing it well.
To do this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Celebrating Excellent Training. Write a brief one-paragraph message about how your program is doing an excellent job. We’d like to highlight this on our blog over the next few months.