Not everybody is unhappy about psychology's internship match imbalance. For some enterprising entrepreneurs, the mismatch means one thing: more business.
A growing number of businesses now promise to help applicants obtain internships, charging as much as $100 an hour for individual consultations. But some of these businesses are scams, warns the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) board.
Students should be "vigilant as they look at potential resources to help them through the match process and to carefully evaluate the support behind claims of success," says APPIC Chair Eugene D'Angelo, PhD.
"I would certainly be very hesitant to pursue anything requiring a substantial outlay of money," adds Greg Keilin, PhD, APPIC match coordinator. "Students should make sure they investigate carefully and make sure what they're getting is really worth the money they're paying."
Better yet, he says, students should take advantage of low- or no-cost assistance.
Start by asking faculty in your program for advice, he suggests. "These days, doctoral programs are quite invested in getting students placed in internships, both because they care about their students and because APA accreditation pays attention to it," he says.
Fellow students are another great resource, says Keilin. Develop a support group with others in your program, he suggests. Review each other's applications. Do mock internship interviews.
"Internships in Psychology: The APAGS Workbook for Writing Successful Applications and Finding the Right Fit" is another source of solid advice. Also check the free information available on the APPIC and National Matching Services websites and the discussion lists sponsored by APPIC, APAGS and others.
According to Stephen R. McCutcheon, PhD, who chaired APPIC from 2005 to 2009, the for-profit consulting businesses are a new phenomenon.
"I totally understand why students who are scared about matching would do whatever they can to improve their chances," he says. "But I'm very concerned that people are being taken advantage of and that their fear and anxiety are being preyed upon in order for someone to make a buck."