From the CEO
This month, the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) celebrates its 20th anniversary. This milestone represents a good time to reflect on the importance of this group for APA and the field of psychology, and to describe the mission and some of the activities of this organization. You may not know that APAGS represents nearly one-third of APA's 148,000 members and affiliates. When graduate students join APA, they are automatically enrolled in APAGS, which is specifically designed to meet the needs of emerging psychologists. Undergraduates also have the opportunity to join.
Graduate students truly represent the future of psychology, which is why APA, through APAGS, provides them with staff and financial resources, and solicits their input into all of our activities and priorities. In return, APAGS members provide us with fresh and insightful ideas from the perspective of graduate students. In fact, we've come to value and rely on the important contributions made by our colleagues-in-training to APA policy development and business practices. During my tenure as APA's CEO, I have watched APAGS tackle difficult and complex issues with maturity and a respect for diverse perspectives, effectively mentor and train future APA leaders, and establish new programs and practices that set an example for APA, a few of which I will highlight here.
Convention. APA's Annual Convention is a prime opportunity for graduate students to make professional connections and showcase their research. Toward that end, APAGS organizes a large program of workshops, symposia and social opportunities specifically for graduate students. Some topics covered this year included internship, licensure and certification, mentoring, navigating practicum, multiculturalism, legislative advocacy and grant writing. APAGS members submit convention proposals to the APAGS Convention Committee for consideration and chair their own sessions.
Internships. To support clinical psychology students, APAGS hosts internship workshops presented on campuses and at conferences nationwide by Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD, APAGS's associate executive director. In addition, APAGS is working to address the imbalance between intern applicants and available internships by partnering with APA's Education Directorate, Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), and other groups to analyze the internship supply and demand problem and identify ways to address the imbalance.
Leadership. Graduate students, the future leaders of APA, can get their start as part of the 13-member APAGS Committee, which is made up of nine elected members and four appointed subcommittee chairs. The APAGS committee works closely with key APA boards and committees and affiliated organizations, such as the Association for State and Provincial Psychology Boards and APPIC, to ensure that student needs are reflected in the agendas of these groups. Examples of recent projects include the development of student working groups to increase opportunities for student leadership; the creation of a Web-based column on diversity issues; the development of surveys to assess how APAGS can address the needs of both practice-identified and bench-science students; and planning special activities to celebrate APAGS's 20th anniversary.
Scholarships and awards. APAGS offers several annual awards, grants and scholarships for dissertations, multicultural training, outstanding psychology departments, mentors, and state, provincial or territorial psychological associations that have integrated graduate students into their activities, to name a few.
Publications and communications. Four times a year, all APAGS members receive gradPSYCH, a magazine that includes articles that are relevant for graduate students who represent a wide range of interests, areas of study and demographics. By collaborating with APAGS staff and leaders, gradPSYCH covers topics such as dissertation roadblocks, managing debt, finding jobs, locating postdocs, teaching, negotiating publication credit and much more.
In addition to the print version, gradPSYCH online brings new student members to APA by providing all articles free of charge after the print version has been released. The gradPSYCH Web site is updated regularly with timely features and Web exclusives, and it provides a place for students to communicate with reporters and APAGS staff.
APAGS also communicates regularly with students through a quarterly electronic campus bulletin available on the APAGS Web site, and through several discussion listservs on topics such as women's issues; ethnic-minority concerns; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender concerns; as well as dissertation, internship and science-related issues.
Legislative advocacy. Through the Advocacy Coordinating Team, a network of more than 400 APAGS Regional and State Advocacy Coordinators and Campus Representatives, APAGS teaches students how to advocate for psychology-friendly legislation.