The two most common questions I get about APAGS are, "What does APAGS do for me?" and "Why should I be a member anyway?" It's difficult to convey all of the work that APAGS does, but I want to share a few highlights. First, APAGS offers many concrete benefits, including giving out $30,000 in awards and grants to students. We also help to supplement graduate training in important ways, by hosting workshops on key issues such as licensure and grant writing, and creating and disseminating resource guides tailored to our diverse interests. In 2015, APAGS will launch its inaugural journal, Translational Issues in Psychological Science, which will provide graduate students with training in scholarly publishing and peer review. We also offer numerous professional development opportunities, including national leadership roles and training in advocacy and legislative issues. To see a full list of member benefits, visit the APAGS website.
But the heart and soul of what APAGS is and does reach far beyond those concrete benefits. From my perspective, the most important work that we do happens behind the scenes. APAGS leadership and staff work every day on important student issues, such as making sure that undergraduates have guidance and informed consent about choosing a doctoral program and career path. We also ensure that graduate student concerns are kept at the forefront of all of APA's larger policy decisions. APAGS representatives attend annual leadership conferences, where we visit our congressional representatives and advocate for funding for clinical training and psychological science. We have also been an active voice in the student loan debate in Congress.
Most important, APAGS works diligently to promote the highest quality training experience for all graduate students of psychology. We hold a voting seat on APA's Board of Directors and Council of Representatives, and work with training councils and other committees to ensure that student needs are heard and met. We are committed to ameliorating the internship crisis and are working to promote long-term and multi-systemic solutions. We have also formed a working group to provide input into the field's accreditation standards, which are under revision. APAGS networks and advocates across interest groups to make sure that the graduate student voice is at the center of all conversations that have the potential to impact our training experience and future.
It is this behind-the-scenes work — occurring in meetings, at conferences and on Capitol Hill — that most clearly represents who we are.
I hope this begins to answer what APAGS is doing on behalf of students and why it is important to be a member. Being part of APAGS is an entryway into psychology. Your membership will keep you informed about upcoming training opportunities, ensure that you know about changes in the field and connect you with your community. When you join APAGS (or renew your membership), you are actively supporting all the advocacy and policy work that is done on your behalf every day.
The value of membership organizations is not so much about what you get, but what you give to your professional community. It is imperative that we support the groups that dedicate their time and energy to ensuring the field is protected and moving forward, and to the voices representing us in APA and beyond.
On a personal note, all of these reasons (and more!) are what inspired me to get involved in APAGS's vibrant leadership community. Some of my most cherished experiences in graduate school have been as part of APAGS committees. In whatever way you choose to support APAGS — as a leader, as part of our grassroots advocacy network or as a continuing member — thank you. As always, I look forward to hearing from you about what is important to you as an APAGS member, and I want to encourage you to add your voice and get involved.
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