I just wanted to say that I really do appreciate the opportunity to do an externship. When I first decided that Psychology was my path, I was very nervous about the fact that I would have to do an externship. In the end, it pushed me to apply for jobs I probably would not have before and helped me gain experience and knowledge that I can use for a lifetime. My extern was very successful and I am excited to see what other programs I end up assisting with as this externship pushed me to pursue opportunities that I previously would not have. Thank you!
- Caylynn Houchen
Did anyone ever ask you, “What can you do with a degree in psychology?” Perhaps your friends and parents asked you that question when you declared your major, or maybe you aren’t even sure what to do with your degree. While psychology is one of the top majors for undergraduates nationally, for most students, it does not lead to careers in mental health. Only about 25% of students go on to graduate study in psychology (4-6% doctoral level, 20-22% master’s level). Most go into other fields, such as marketing, case management, sales, advertising, labor relations, rehabilitation services, real estate, social work, childcare, writing, probation/parole, teaching, and career counseling.
The Oregon Tech Applied Psychology Program prepares its students to use their degrees after graduation through applied experiences, such as PSY 420 Externship. An externship pairs students with agencies, businesses, and organizations in their area and beyond to expose them to careers that employ concepts, principles, and techniques learned in coursework in the Applied Psychology program. Externship possibilities are available all terms, including summer. They can take place anywhere a suitable site is located in the world. Working individually with the Externship Coordinator, students are guided to appropriate and meaningful externship sites that fit students’ lives and locations.
Practical experience is essential for students who plan to apply to competitive graduate programs in psychology and education. It also helps students learn whether they would like to work in a certain career or with a certain population, as well as how to apply their psychology and academic skills in real life situations. The experiences are varied. For example, students can volunteer in childcare and education, child protective services, human resources, academic mentoring, law enforcement, school systems, assault and crime victim services, athletics, sexual health and reproductive services, and geriatric services. The staff at these sites are willing to educate, supervise, and mentor our students, as well as serve as references. They provide a service to our students that a purely academic program cannot provide. In return, our students are providing a service to the community through their activities. Oftentimes, this experience can get a student’s foot in the door at an agency and is a great opportunity for networking.
“Extern is a great hands-on experience in a possible career field!”
Students have enjoyed their experiences and commented that it has helped them decide on future careers, as well as finding employment immediately upon graduation. If you are interested in signing up for PSY 420 as credits applied toward your degree, you will need to complete PSY 317 Field and Career Preparation at least one term prior to your externship. This class covers information that will be used in setting up your externship, including the application process. While details are covered in PSY 317, please contact Dr. Alishia Huntoon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Externship Coordinator, with further questions.
"I graduated in June and by July 1st, I had secured a position at Klamath County Community Corrections, my externship site, as a Corrections Assistant. Now 6 months later, I have secured a position as a Parole & Probation Officer, which was my dream job!"
"You encouraged me to pursue my passion and extern at Corrections, which led me to where I am today."
If you have met the prerequisites, great! Move on to step 2. If you haven’t, contact your advisor to discuss when to enroll in PSY 317.
- Check the prerequisites. Have you:
- Completed at least 120 hours of college credit
- Earned an A or B in PSY 317?
- Review the Externship Policies and Procedures Manual.
- Contact the externship coordinator (email@example.com) by the 6th week of the term that precedes the term you wish to participate in an externship.
- Identify sites of interest.
- Contact potential sites to discuss placement opportunity.
- Identify learning objectives for the externship.
- Complete Oregon Tech Externship Application form.
- Confirm the externship site meeting with your Supervisor and Dr. Huntoon by week 9 of the preceding term.
- Ensure the Externship Site Agreement, linked on the Applied Psychology Externship webpage, has been completed.
- Complete all required background checks, dependent upon the site.
- Verify you have been registered for the correct section of PSY 420 by the end of the preceding term
- Begin your externship hours the first week of term.
- Complete the Site Orientation checklist with your supervisor.
- Track your hours each week on your Timesheet (linked on the Applied Psychology Externship webpage) and have your supervisor sign weekly.
- Keep a journal of your experiences each week (see manual for guidelines/suggestions).
- Keep in touch with the externship coordinator throughout the term
- Turn in a copy of a completed Mid-Term Evaluation (linked on the Applied Psychology Externship webpage) once you have completed half of the required hours).
- Turn in the Final Evaluation in your completed electronic Portfolio by Monday of finals week, once you have completed all of your hours. Note additional instructions in the manual and with the cover page linked on the Applied Psychology Externship webpage.
- Write a “Thank you” letter to your supervisor!
Oregon Tech must have a signed contract in place with the externship site before the student can begin their externship. Ideally this will be completed before or during the orientation meeting. The agreement is available on the Oregon Tech Applied Psychology Externship web page. The site fills out their information on pages 1, 5, and 7 and signs on page 7. After they complete their areas it needs to be given to (hardcopy, email, fax) the Externship Coordinator. Make sure this is done well in advance, as this can delay hours earned for externship. The site agreements are necessary and include liability coverage for the student and anyone connected to Oregon Tech for the externship. The signed copy and a certificate demonstrating the liability coverage is emailed to the site after it is processed.
Stipends or Pay at Site
Per the required site agreements, students may not receive pay for services during their externship hours. They cannot have a dual role as an extern and employee during the same hours. They are considered externs and are not employees at the time they are earning extern hours.
“Students cannot be compensated under the terms of this affiliation agreement (please see section 5, Employment Disclaimer). Our insurance coverage does not cover students as employees. We can use this affiliation agreement to cover the student in instances when he/she is strictly participating in the unpaid externship.” –Vivian Chen, Contract Officer
Quality of Supervision
Externship is a type of apprenticeship in which both the agency and the extern benefit. The site supervisor and agency will devote time and effort to training, supervising, mentoring, and (if earned) serving as a reference for the extern. In return, the extern will perform work that will benefit the agency. The site supervisor’s first obligation in most cases will be to the agency and its clients. A supervisor will not and should not place externs in situations in which potential harm could result to the agency, its clients, or to the extern. Thus, externs who fail to earn their supervisor’s trust are often given routine safe jobs and little exposure to more difficult and rewarding activities. It is up to the extern to earn the supervisor’s trust. We expect site supervisors to give externs sufficient feedback and input to assist them and to develop marketable skills. Accepting and making use of such feedback is important to becoming a professional. We expect Oregon Tech externs to accept such input and adjust their work accordingly. We also expect Oregon Tech externs to be able to give specific, constructive feedback to the site about what worked during the externship and what would have made the externship more effective. Forms for giving feedback about the site and the site supervisor are included in this manual. This needs to be completed and turned in as part of the final portfolio. Providing this to the site supervisor is optional and should be discussed with the Externship Coordinator.
Supervisor's Evaluation of Extern
Students are expected to deliver copies of the Extern Evaluation Forms (midterm and final) to their supervisors and to return these to the Externship Coordinator at midterm (as a copy) and completion of the term (originals compiled in the portfolio). It is preferred that the supervisor and extern review this form together, but at the supervisor’s option, he or she may submit it directly to the Externship Coordinator.