This summer I sought an internship that would allow me to explore the field of clinical psychology. After countless applications submitted on websites like Handshake and LinkedIn, I found that being a rising junior did not help my case as most clinics were seeking students with a masters degree in clinical psychology. Finally, I decided to contact clinics in Saratoga directly by email and phone asking for any position that would allow me to gain exposure to the field. After email 15 clinics, and receiving several rejections, one responded offering me the position of an unpaid intern. This was ECS Psychological in Saratoga Springs. This search experience taught me the value of seeking out what I want and marketing myself. I think if I had to give students a tip to finding an internship it would be: don’t limit yourself to just the “mainstream” job search websites but to find a location you are really interested and passionate about working at and directly talk to them. It might require extra work and slightly uncomfortable phone calls, but in the end, it is definitely worth a shot.
The first thing that drew me to ECS was the animal therapeutic services they offered. The clinic had two locations, one at Church Street and a farm a few miles from the first office. The farm was home to several ex-race horses and a handful of cats and dogs that were trained to aid in therapy. During my time here, I spent a lot of days helping out with group therapy sessions using these animals and it was definitely the highlight of my time there. The animals are so friendly and lovable that I would spend hours past my shift just hanging out with them and helping the staff groom and play with them. I’ve attached pictures of one of the sweetest horses I worked with above!
In addition, I helped out with administrative work at the main office such as making follow up calls to patients, helping with an upcoming fundraiser and creating a social media platform for them to advertise the services being offered. Finally, I helped conduct research for the paper the clinic was writing on the benefits of equine assisted psychotherapy on trauma. This experience was extremely beneficial for me as I was given the opportunity to fully explore the life of a clinical psychologist as well as apply the skills I acquired at my course at Skidmore. The clinicians were extremely friendly and would often invite me to their office to chat and answer any questions I had. In addition, I would attend the biweekly meetings where they would discuss any challenges they were having with patients and brainstorm ideas on how to move forward. Overall, my experience at ECS was key to helping me see what my future could look like in a clinic and I am so grateful for my time there.
The funding was a key factor in me completing this internship at ECS. Since this wasn’t an official published position, I knew they would not be eager to pay me as an intern. So when I reached out to ECS, I assured them that I was not looking to be paid but simply wanted the experience. The funding from Skidmore allowed me to cover all the costs required for me to stay at Saratoga for 10 weeks. This included housing, groceries and transportation. This funding gave me the chance to focus on my internship without having to worry about my next meal or transportation. I think it is extremely valuable for anyone doing an unpaid internship!