It was only after Jeremy Dejesus learned that his grandmother had Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease that eventually results in dementia, did he become interested in psychology.
Now a junior majoring in psychology, he has been working since June at Wedge Medical, a mental health center where he supervises senior citizens in a variety of activities.
Dejesus is one of many upperclassmen Psychology majors being given a chance to supplement their resumes with an internship. Dr. Margo Storm, who serves as Associate Chair of Temple’s Psychology Department, is the Chair of the internship program.
“This is an opportunity to spend time in a work environment,” Storm said, “a time to put to practical use what one learns in the classroom.”
The unpaid internships count as a three-credit course open to juniors and seniors majoring in psychology.
Besides preparing students for the real world, the internships sometimes serve a more immediate purpose.
“Students also take an internship to find out if what they want to do is what they want to do,” Storm said.
Students have a variety of places open for internships. “There are a wide range of internships,” she said. “We’ve had internships varying from working at the
[Philadelphia] Zoo to shadowing a probation officer!”
Not only can students choose from a list of about 30 locations, they may also pick a center of their own preference, if approved by Storm.
Besides volunteering at a site for a required eight to 12 hours a week, a student also has a variety of other tasks to fulfill the course requirements.
“Students must keep a journal and send me entries,” Storm said. “They also have a paper due that links what they are learning on the job to what they learn in school.”
Just like any regular course, students in the internship program receive a grade.
Supervisors of Temple Psychology interns appear highly satisfied with their work. Kelly Purpura, a Temple alumnus who majored in psychology, is Director of the Alzheimer’s Unit at Sunrise Assisted Living Center.
Purpura said, “I feel the experience has been very positive. I wish I had the opportunity in the past.”
Joyce West, who directs the internship program at Wedge Medical, said she has been “very pleased with Temple students.”
“Every year they seem to get better and better,” she said.
At Wedge Medical, students are given a choice of activities to facilitate.
“I give them a choice of working with a resident one on one, to working with an entire group,” West said. “The results are very encouraging.”
Baeu Brendley is a senior majoring in a psychology. First an education major, Brendley made the switch to psychology after realizing that he “wanted something more challenging.” His interest in the field stemmed from encounters with his pet.
“I would play with my cat and watch its responses,” Brendley said.
His internship began this fall and consists of serving as peer advisor to other psychology students.
“I have some clinical experience outside Temple,” he said. “I wanted some academic experience.”
“The best thing about the internship is that it helps to develop professional skills and gives the kind of exposure one needs to be familiar with,” Brendley said.
“Students interested in psychology,” he said, “need to have people-oriented, interpersonal skills. My internship has benefited me a great deal.”
Kishwer Vikaas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.