Well before the first day of class signaled the start of Myriell Tyler’s final year at Mary Baldwin University, the psychology major from Suitland, Maryland, was honing an idea for her senior thesis and planning for her ultimate goal of becoming a Christian counselor.
A paid summer internship at the American Psychological Association (APA) in Washington, D.C., went a long way in helping her on both counts. From the end of May until the end of August, Tyler worked within the accreditation department of the agency, gaining a better understanding of the process through which graduate programs and other institutions must go to gain accreditation by APA. She eventually was able to assist representatives of those programs who were going through accreditation requirements.
Internships are critical tools in helping college students gain valuable insight into potential careers.
“I’d like to say that God led me to [the internship],” Tyler said, recalling how she stumbled across the name of the agency while writing a paper last year. A friend from her home church also works at the APA and was able to help circulate Tyler’s resume.
As a result of her summer experience, Tyler sharpened her already superior office skills (she was named student worker of the year in 2011–12 for her work-study job in the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs office) and she also was able to take advantage the extensive psych library at the APA.
For her senior thesis, Tyler has decided to explore the links between religiosity and college students coping with depression. Furthermore, the connections she made at the APA should help when applying to graduate school in which she hopes to enroll next fall. Tyler’s summer supervisor urged her to work on her personal statement, and helped her find the programs that would eventually lead her to her desired counseling career.
Meanwhile, about 120 miles north in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, junior Sophia Stone spent her summer at Holy Spirit Hospital, shadowing healthcare professionals in various situations. From patient consultations to open-heart surgery, the 18-year-old from Pacific Palisades, California, received valuable insight on the work of physicians and other healthcare professionals.
The skill and supportiveness of physicians and nurses stood out to Stone, as well as the resilience of patients, including many, unfortunately, who faced bleak diagnoses. The student was most impressed working with an oncologist who spent extended periods of time with patients dealing with traumatic health concerns. The experience shed light on the everyday lives of those who help others, Stone said, including her own father, who is a physician in California.
“People should understand how healthcare works. It affects everybody,” Stone said, adding that students should take the time to similarly explore careers in their areas of interest. “I would tell other students to take that opportunity, take a summer, to shadow someone.”
The biology/psychology double major is still determining what path she’ll choose. For now, she’s interested in both research and hands-on practice.
Stone will present senior research in psychology this year, and will write next year’s thesis in biology. In addition to her psychology senior thesis, Tyler is prepping this year for the GREs and hopes to attend graduate school next year.