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Volunteer Work in Psychology

You may find it helpful, as a Psychology major, to become better acquainted with your field by performing volunteer work on campus and in the local community.  The opportunities for service are many – working with crime victims and chronically ill children at the Medical University of South Carolina, visiting elderly individuals in nursing homes, being a big brother or big sister to a disadvantaged youth, counseling individuals over telephone through Hotline, tutoring children at a local elementary school, and so on.

How do you find volunteer work opportunities?  Attend meetings of the Psychology Club and talk to your fellow students about volunteer work opportunities that they have found particularly helpful.  Notice items posted on the Psychology bulletin board (in the hallway near Room 132 of the Science Center).  Speak with your teachers.  Talk with the staff at Career Center (Lightsey Center, 160 Calhoun Street, Lower Level, Room B-28, 953-5692).  Pound the pavement and make a few “cold calls.”

Here are some additional links that might be helpful:

If you would like to “dig deeply” into your volunteer work experience and set it up as a more extensive internship, consider two options. First, the Psychology Department has a structured internship course, Psyc 397 Internship Experience. This link includes a description of the course, contact information, prerequisites, internship sites, and so on. Second, the Career Center offers a Certificate Internship Program. Although this is not an academic course, there are specific criteria (e.g., a minimum of 120 hours over at least 12 weeks in the internship; supervision; completion of a Learning Contract and other forms) which must be met in order to have the work experience noted on a certificate from the Career Center.  Afterwards, check out the Career Center's Internships and Experiential Opportunities page - an excellent what, who, when, where, and how resource for local internships.

Volunteer work and internships in the community are valuable ways to learn about career opportunities as well as to discover what you do and do not enjoy doing.  Potential employers may be more readily convinced of your sincerity if you have a history of relevant volunteer work experiences.  Most important, you will help others and learn much about yourself.