Queen's University Queen's University

From Student to Professional: Bridging the Gap with Internship

I’m so close I can taste it. In Clinical Psych, our last step is a one-year internship where we do (nearly) exclusively clinical work. This is my last summer here in beautiful Kingston, and then on to residency in the fall. At Gradifying this month, Sharday has discussed transitioning from undergrad to grad school; and Amanda has highlighted the changes that occur moving from the Master’s to the PhD. Professional programs typically have this final stage in the training process where many of the acquired skills are applied in a professional setting. This marks the last transition from studenthood, and in this post I’ll be talking about the importance about this step, as well as some ways of getting ready for it.


Who Are You? (Who, who. Who, who. Earworm.)

Even once a Master’s student overcomes imposter syndrome, there is a lingering sense of being at the bottom of the ladder. And as we progress through the PhD there is the growing sense of collegiality that Amanda had mentioned. Internship is not only important because of the skills and tools that get sharpened on the job, but it is also the beginning of developing one’s professional identity. What are the roles that you are expected to fulfill? In many professions there are many hats to wear, and during internship you have often your first exposure to some of these roles. For some, committee or board membership is an essential task, or perhaps you’re expected to adopt a consultation role.

Another important part of developing a professional identity is demonstrating adherence to an ethical code of conduct. For some professions this conduct is explicitly enumerated, and for others it is a learn-as-you-go process.


What Will be Your Special Powers?

Internship: the intersection of skills, abilities, and knowledge

Internship: the intersection of skills, abilities, and knowledge

I just watched Deadpool the other day in theatre, so I’m thinking about skills in terms of superpowers. As the school year is quickly winding down, I find myself thinking more and more about what skills I want to hone, what opportunities I want to experience. This is my last chance to try things while under supervision. But internships – like graduate school – never falls short on opportunities, and goal-setting is going to ensure that the priorities are met. In some contexts, goal-setting is done early and formally. I have colleagues, however, who jump in feet first and do the first thing they’ve been assigned to. If it were not a formal part of your internship, setting some time aside with the person responsible for your training wouldn’t be a bad idea.


Getting Ready

If you’re in the position that I’m in now – the dreaming stage – then we’ve got a few things that will help us be ready to take advantage of our opportunities when the clock strikes go.

  1. Think critically about what skills you’re going to need in your career, and formulate your goals for internship. When you approach your internship supervisor she/he will be in a better position to present opportunities that will prepare you for your career.
  2. Brush up on your ethical standards, or start thinking about how to demonstrate appropriate conduct in your field.
  1. Start thinking about people you could meet that might be good connections for the workforce.


I am dreaming of the day that I begin my internship and transition into the workplace. Now, if I could just get this little dissertation out of the way…

Posted in General, Internship, Professional Development, Skill Development, Transitioning Tagged with: , , ,
One comment on “From Student to Professional: Bridging the Gap with Internship
  1. Colette says:

    All great points here Dustin. Perhaps when you have been in your internship for a few months you can talk about whether your plans for your internship was correct.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to Gradifying

Gradifying Poll

Grad Community at Queen's
How connected do you feel to a community of other graduate students at Queen's?