As the new APAGS chair, I have outlined my four main goals for the year (see "Working on your behalf"). One is to educate graduate students about how to internationalize their careers in psychology.
Many scholars have called for psychologists and psychologists-in-training to engage in international psychology research, practice, education and consultation (Stevens & Gielen, 2007). These scholars have described how economic, political, social and technological forces have resulted in the globalization of psychology. Similarly, the U.S. Senate has recognized the strong influence of globalization on the United States and the value of college students studying abroad. In fact, the Senate declared 2006 the "Year of Study Abroad."
But there are other ways psychology graduate students can internationalize their psychology careers or incorporate international components into their training. For instance, graduate students can attend international conferences. I have been fortunate to attend two: the 2005 World Federation for Mental Health Congress in Cairo, Egypt, and the 2007 International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance Conference in Padova, Italy. During these conferences, I attended presentations that addressed how psychology is practiced and researched in other countries such as Australia, Ireland, Japan, Egypt and Italy. I was also able to network and establishprofessional relationships with psychologists and graduate students from other countries that will hopefully lead to cross-cultural research collaborations.
Learning about the international application of psychology has helped me think globally about my research interests, future practice goals and training skills. Attending these two international conferences has been the highlight of my graduate training experience, and these experiences have strongly influenced my career interests, aspirations and goals.
International training offers many benefits including personal growth, intercultural development and educational and career advancement (Dwyer & Peters, 2007). More specifically, psychology graduate students can gain a better understanding of other cultures and enhance their understanding of their own cultures, improve their foreign language skills, gain unique training opportunities, learn about innovative career options and become better global citizens. Some emerging areas of graduate study in the area include international health-care practice and delivery, terrorism-prevention research and disaster relief services.
There are, of course, barriers to participating in international training. Some include awareness of international opportunities, financial costs, curriculum constraints, program culture, language skills and safety concerns. Despite these challenges, some psychology graduate students have incorporated international learning opportunities into their training.
Unfortunately, many training programs still do not address the globalization of psychology or provide international learning opportunities. Graduate students are often left to figure out how to pursue international options on their own. This initiative is to inform psychology graduate students about the importance of incorporating international experiences into their education and careers and to make educational resources available to students so they canengage in those opportunities. I plan to make resources about international learning opportunities available on the APAGS Web site. Interested graduate students can visit the APAGS Web site at www.apa.org/apags for details about this initiative.