Tag Archives: APA internship

An Actually Informative Post About Internship Match Day, North Carolina, and the Nature of Happiness

4 Mar

So here’s how it all went down.

Rewind to February 23: After a productive week of worrying, I spent the evening at a potluck at a friend’s house, where I ate baked ziti and watched the latest Twilight movie with Rifftrax and pretended that the Match process was just an uncomfortable dream sequence, like the eighth season of Dallas.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 was largely unbearable (see fine review here – it starts about a fourth of the way down the post) but turned out to be an excellent choice for Match Day Eve, what with all the soothing dialogue-and-action-free segments. I had this idea that I’d be lying awake in bed for hours that night, but the movie eased me into a blissfully somnolent state. Also, who am I kidding, I am really good at sleeping.

Before bed, I made a list of all the reasons it would be good if I didn’t get an internship and stayed in grad school another year (i.e., continued proximity to my friends here, more time to sell the house, ongoing access to my favorite cupcake shop). I also performed a rigorous emotional readiness exercise on my dude. “Let’s say I roll over tomorrow morning and tell you I matched in… VIRGINIA. How do you FEEL?!” “Fine. Excited.” “OK, I roll over tomorrow morning and tell you I matched… NOWHERE. How do you FEEL?” “Fine. Not as excited, but fine.” “OK, I roll over and tell you I matched in… INDIANA. How do you FEEL?” “You didn’t apply anywhere in Indiana.” The boy is good. Anyway, the point is that he was emotionally prepared, thanks to me and my fab psychology skills.

Applicants were told we’d hear about our match status by 8:00am MST, but a couple more advanced students in my program recalled receiving their notification emails earlier than that. I set an alarm for 6:30am, dreamed something about chapstick, woke up to my Super Mario alarm and checked my phone. No dice. An APPIC email had arrived when I checked again at 6:45, and I told Ted with bleary happiness that I had matched to one of my top sites in North Carolina. Thanks to our emotional readiness work, he was able to handle all the joyful feelings. Family members were called, friends were alerted, and my cohort-mates (whom, I am thrilled to say, all matched) and I swapped text messages. Most communications were excited, but there were also conversations that were mixed or sad… a conversation with best friends we’d hoped to live closer to; texts with friends from my cohort who hadn’t gotten the matches they’d wanted most; chats with people out here in Colorado that I’d have to leave behind. And as the initial high wore off over the course of the day, the Kitten Principle kicked into action.

When you decide that you want to get a kitten, you start thinking about all the things your kitten could be. Your kitten could be striped, calico, gray, black, green-eyed, yellow-eyed, short-haired, long-haired, feisty, snuggly, male, female. You imagine yourself playing with your long-haired black kitten or petting your blue-eyed Siamese kitten. Then you get a kitten, and he’s striped and long-haired and green-eyed and purry, and you love him. But because he’s striped, he can’t be calico, gray, black, or Siamese, and the little dreams you had involving hypothetical calico/gray/black/Siamese kittens will never be realized. Doors have closed, opportunities have been lost, and while you have a beautiful striped kitten, the reality of owning him includes some things that didn’t appear in your daydreams, such as him peeing in the sink and attempting to sleep on your face. You know you should be 100% happy with your striped kitten, but there’s a part of you that feels a little sad about the hypothetical kittens you missed out on, even though you know that if you’d gotten a calico kitten, a part of you would be mourning the fact that she wasn’t a striped kitten. That’s the Kitten Principle: the idea that the time of indeterminate possibility can be happier than the initial time of determined reality, even if reality gives you exactly what you want.

Now obviously, the Kitten Principle is not a new idea: it’s just a more adorable way to conceptualize what we already know about the negative effects of “choice overload,” the psychological impact of opportunity costs, and our bumbling incompetence when it comes to predicting how happy we’ll feel after future events (Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness does a nice job of covering this). Kittens… super cute, right? Not so cute when they’re peeing in your sink, let me just tell you.

The Kitten Principle has largely resolved itself now that Match Day is a week behind me, and I’m feeling super excited about moving to North Carolina. Extensive Wikipedia research this week revealed that North Carolina’s state mammal is the Eastern Gray Squirrel and its state vegetable is the sweet potato, which explains a lot about the mystifying Microsoft Word clip art in my last post.

FUN FACTS, North Carolina Edition:

  • The State Beverage is milk. THAT’S RIGHT. While you’re drinking your orange juice or whatever stupid beverage is beloved in your state, I’ll be sucking down a cool glass of milk.
  • The State Blue Berry is… the blueberry. North Carolina, why did you even create this category?
  • The State Carnivorous Plant is the Venus Flytrap.
  • Home of the Mullet Festival (I think they mean the fish, not the hairdo, but it’s probably best to show up in a mullet just in case), the North Carolina Pickle Festival, and the previously mentioned Woolly Worm Festival

I’m sure there are many more fascinating NC tidbits out there, but I got Wikipedia fatigue and stopped searching. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life in North Carolina. Keep this on the DL, but my dude and I are thinking about taking the plunge into family life and adding new members to our household.

Specifically, we’re thinking a puppy and some chickens, although we may also be willing to consider some button quail.

Next steps: finishing my dissertation, staging the house, selling the house, terminating with clients, and closing out client files.

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Matched!

28 Feb

I landed an internship, and Ted and I are headed to the great state of North Carolina! That’s right, I’m going to be living in the birthplace of human-powered flight, where the squirrels roam and… is that a yam? I guess also where the yams grow. This Microsoft Word clip art is not very informative.

This post will also not be very informative, due to all the things I need to get done this week… but I promise to put up a real piece in the next few days.

Interview Blues, Part Two

13 Jan

The Grand Interview Tour began last Friday. Yesterday I woke up on a friend’s couch in Maryland, and tonight I will be situated on another friend’s couch in Georgia. Eight interviews down, one interview and an open house to go. I am tired. I had thought that interviews would start to feel easier after a while; they would become a performance I knew by heart, and the dread would ebb away. Lol! I still feel like vomiting before every single one.

My last couple of interviews have been held on organized interview days, meaning that I’ve been spending a lot of time with other applicants in addition to site staff and current interns. This has been making everything infinitely worse. The problem is that these other applicants are nice. They’re funny, they’re polite, they’re well-spoken, they’re well-dressed. I sit with them during lunches and meet-and-greets, and we are a small sea of nearly indistinguishable suits and smiles. I enjoy talking to them, they seem to enjoy talking to me, we could easily be friends. When I send thank you emails after interviews, I sense the other applicants typing in tandem with me from their hotel rooms. How in the world am I supposed to stand out here? Every minor mistake I make during interviews – realizing I forgot to  add something during a case conceptualization, stumbling over a word, pausing too long to think – feels like a death knell when my fellow applicants are this good, this likable. I have no idea where I stand.

This process has been an enormous investment of time, energy, and money, and it’s really discouraging to think that a fourth of this year’s applicants (maybe including me) will have to go through it all a second time. Or a third time. The price of my flights, car rentals, gas, suit, and hotel stays will be around two grand when all is said and done, and that’s after cutting travel costs wherever possible (staying with friends for all but two nights, choosing economy cars, and not visiting every site on my list). Two grand. That’s average. That kind of price tag doesn’t jive with psychology’s professional value of improving economically disadvantaged groups’ access to opportunities. I was able to rely on my partner to cover the costs of the internship application process, and I know some others who have been able to rely on their parents… but there seems to be an implicit assumption that everyone applying has access to those kinds of resources, and that’s absolutely not the case. Many university counseling centers, blessedly recognizing the magnitude of the financial burden associated with the internship process, have begun to move toward phone or Skype interviews, but there are just as many sites that continue to insist on (or “strongly prefer”) doing things in person. There are some applicants out there who are going to spend $2000 this month that they don’t have, and then be expected to do it again next year.

And the internship crisis doesn’t seem likely to be resolved anytime soon. Every Monitor or gradPsych I’ve read lately has included articles about what’s being done to address the problem, but the “things being done” seem to consist primarily of holding meetings to discuss what should be done. The last gradPsych described two “landmark victories” achieved last year: securing continued access to federal funding, and restoring intern positions in New York that were temporarily cut last fall. These are important achievements and I’m grateful that APA made them happen, but they represent maintenance, not improvement.

Not that I have any bright ideas for how to fix the problem. Getting an accredited internship program going is a labor-intensive project, and interns must be (sparingly) paid and provided with benefits. Making intern pay optional might create more positions, but it would also create serious difficulties for interns, many of whom already carry a heavy load of student loan debt. Psy.D. programs tend to have class sizes that significantly larger than those of Ph.D. programs, and some really nasty stuff went around on graduate psych listservs a while back about how Psy.D. students were “taking up internship spots” that rightfully belonged to Ph.D. students. Right… because it makes sense to blame other students for the shortage. Students who have devoted years and thousands of dollars in loan money to their educations, and who need APA-accredited internships to legally practice in many states. Much like… Ph.D. students. Not cool, guys. Maybe regulation of the maximum number of students allowed in incoming graduate psych cohorts (Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs alike) could reduce the internship disparity, but I get a headache thinking about the logistical and financial nightmares that a move like this would spawn. Best of luck to the APA.

But… deep breath. If I don’t get an internship, I have good backup options. During the interview process I’m getting to spend a lot of time with friends. And on Sunday I get to go home for a brief interview-free hiatus, ditch the makeup and heels, hang out with my dude, and do regular grad student stuff. I will also get to use as much shampoo as I want without fear of emptying my tiny TSA-approved bottle. It’s going to be magical.

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