Early-Career Psychology

Like many early career psychologists, Gary Hawley, PsyD, encountered numerous obstacles when he began his career. First was relocating from his predoctoral internship in Syracuse, N.Y., to Wichita, Kan., for his wife's predoctoral psychology internship. He found a job as a therapist in an underserved rural community health center, but then had to find a way to repay the more than $200,000 in debt he and his wife amassed while in school. Luckily, his new job helped him manage his debt by qualifying him for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.

"Managing a large debt load—and finding suitable positions to help pay off our debt—are just some of the challenges we face at the outset of our careers," says Hawley, now chair of APA's Committee on Early Career Psychologists.

To help other new psychologists overcome those challenges, he and the other five members of the committee are disseminating a wealth of information developed for early career psychologists. Among the most comprehensive resources is APA's "Financial Planning for Early Career Psychologists" handbook, which offers personal financial advice, from repaying student loans to the basics of financial planning and preparing for a successful retirement. For example, the handbook lists loan repayment programs of particular interest for psychologists, including those at the National Health Service Corps and National Institutes of Health. These programs allow new psychologists to work off their loans while working in psychology. The handbook also defines essential investment terms that can intimidate new investors and helps early career psychologists understand key financial planning goals, including paying down debt, protecting your credit rating, tax planning, insurance products and savings. The handbook is available for APA members on the Early Career Psychologists Web site and in print by emailing Alex Sittig.

The "APAConnect" guide is another great resource that provides a detailed list of the benefits and resources early career psychologists need most, including special discounts on personal and professional products and services, opportunities for networking and involvement in APA, and career information, funding resources and practice services. The "APAConnect" guide is available online. In addition, PsycCareers.com, APA's online career center and the largest database of psychology jobs and candidates, provides in-depth career services, professional development and job searching tips.

The "Building Bridges" brochure by the Committee on Early Career Psychologists offers advice on how to create opportunities to engage, learn, network and become leaders within the discipline of psychology. Early career psychologists can find out how to build their professional networks, balance their career and personal lives and establish their professional identities. The brochure is available on the Web site.

APA's Early Career Psychologists Web site also features lists of funding and loan-repayment resources, licensure information, career resource guides and continuing-education courses. Links to early career related news articles keep early career psychologists up to date with current events, psychology-related announcements and even challenges they may face as they begin their careers.

Also, new psychologists should be sure to subscribe to the early career listserv, a great place to network and find solutions to problems they may be experiencing. Join the early career listserv by visiting www.apa.org/earlycareer/eclistserv.html.

Of course, to reap the full benefits of APA, early career psychologists need to upgrade to full member status. New graduates can upgrade at no cost by going to www.apa.org/membership/upgrade.html. In addition, APA offers substantial discounts off full-member dues of $287 for the first several years of membership.

"Early career psychologists are the future of APA, and we want them to know that we have the resources they need to build long-lasting careers without feeling stranded by their association or mired by finances," says Hawley.

APA's "Financial Planning for Early Career Psychologists" handbook, which offers personal financial advice, is available in hard copy and on the Web.