LucidMind

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Hi all!

I am a 4th year with the quickly upcoming internship application season! I would love to hear your thoughts on the best ways to tell how prestigious various internship programs are? Thanks for the help in advance!!
 

Justanothergrad

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Honestly? Prestige doens't matter. Go to the one you are happy with/fit with. I interviewed at traditional top places and placed in the middle of no where because I ranked it higher. I liked the training model,lifestyle, etc more. Don't chase down competitive sites just to be competitive.
 
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Don't worry about perceived prestige, whatever that means, but do make sure that you only consider APA-accredited internships. You might not think it matters now, and you will certainly be told by some supervisors and former interns from non-APA-accredited programs that it doesn't matter, but it matters and will continue to matter.
 
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G Costanza

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I'll give my perspective with regard to UCC internship sites. Fit is most important like others have mentioned. Beyond that, I would worry less about prestige and attend a site that has a name people recognize. Harvard's iconic reputation doesn't really help but it's a school people will know on a resume. Thats better than going to Southeastern North Dakota Tech. That said, if both are APA accredited, it doesn't matter much.

Probably more important than the name is how well your training director is connected to other sites. How long have they been in that position? Do they attend regional and national conferences? Do they publish or present? When it comes time to apply for jobs, ideally you want your TD calling up their old friend Dr. Director and talking you up.
 
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LucidMind

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Ahh this makes sense! So to find competitive vs non-competitive schools, is it a good idea to use the applicants applied vs applicants accepted stat?
 

Justanothergrad

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Sure, although that won't really capture it because it doesn't show you what a 'competitive' person is or account for the fact that certain geography gets more applicants. Every school in NYC will get more applicants even if it is a junk site just because of location, for instance. And neither of those factors will tell you who gets selected to interview because applying to a site because of its namesake is a bad way to find fit. Who do they select and why do they select them: Is it hours? Is it something in the personal statement? Is it who wrote the letter of reference? Is it your program? etc etc etc. There isn't a real 'system' to find out who is competitive for the most part (exception, if the place gets 8 people who apply and interview all 8 then assume low competitiveness... I saw one of those. Actually looked like a really awesome training model and a good site, but was in the middle of bumblenothing Kentucky so I'm sure thats why it got less).

You're missing the big picture though - don't focus on who is competitive one way or another because it isn't the thing that makes you the most likely to interview or place at a site (much less be happy). Find fit at an APA Accredited site, apply to the site, then rinse/repeat.

Why are you so worried about competitiveness of the site?
 
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LucidMind

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You're missing the big picture though - don't focus on who is competitive one way or another because it isn't the thing that makes you the most likely to interview or place at a site (much less be happy). Find fit at an APA Accredited site, apply to the site, then rinse/repeat.

Why are you so worried about competitiveness of the site?
Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I wasn't worried until I began researching internship sites in more detail....and almost every one has 100 to 200 applicants from 3 to 8 spots!! TBH it scares the **** out of me , I didn't realize how abysmal the numbers are. I come from a pretty solid clinical psych PhD program, lots of hours, a handful of publications, and I still don't know if I can fight against those odds..
 

Justanothergrad

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Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I wasn't worried until I began researching internship sites in more detail....and almost every one has 100 to 200 applicants from 3 to 8 spots!! TBH it scares the **** out of me , I didn't realize how abysmal the numbers are. I come from a pretty solid clinical psych PhD program, lots of hours, a handful of publications, and I still don't know if I can fight against those odds..
This was one of those things I hated hearing people tell m, but I'll tell you anyway: "It works out." If you're concerned about match but come from a good program with hours/pubs/etc, know that the odds are on your side and only getting better with more and more sites opening/getting funding. From your other post, you are in CA and that goes against you though, so consider region when you are looking. If you can, don't be regionally bound. There are so many awesome programs out there in 'less than ideal' locations. Everyone wants to be at the beach, but you'll be amazed at how the number of applicants/spots/program name does not reflect intern happiness, training quality, balance with /actual/ life, etc.
 
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Remember also that the numbers aren't nearly as abysmal as they appear. Yes, most sites get upwards of 100 applications for less than 10 spots, but most people are applying to 10-15 sites, and match rates (particularly for accredited PhD programs) are pretty good (upwards of 85%). One person can only match to one site, remember, so it really does "work out" and "even out" for the most part, particularly for strong training programs. Look at the match rates for similar types of programs, and the match rates from your program in particular (recognizing that even great programs can have an off year here or there), as those are better guides than looking at rates for individual programs. There are a lot of ways internship applications can be stressful, and overemphasizing individual program acceptance rates is just creating suffering.
 

Kadhir

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I would echo all previous sentiments, with one qualification. I've seen it not work out for really deserving applicants (as we all have), and much of the time, poor advising is at play. It is likely to work out, but talk to recent applicants and faculty you trust, get their honest feedback on all your materials, and craft an effective application. You want to make sure you're applying to the right sites in the right ways, and objective input from others can help a lot with figuring all that out.
 
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madeincanada

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I agree wholeheartedly that going where you fit and where the training is suited to your needs is ideal.

However, this notion that prestige does not matter is simply untrue. If you can get identical training at a Harvard affiliated institution versus insert-lesser-known-site-here, then of course go to Boston. When you apply for a fellowship or a faculty position, having a prestigious institution on your CV looks nice. It won't define you, nor will it be the reason why you get the job, but it's a cherry on top.

Again, I would not suggest you sacrifice fit/happiness for an Ivy League institution, but all things being equal, why wouldn't this factor matter?
 
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entitlement

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I'm not sure that anyone at any academic/research position really cares where you did internship. Postdoc for sure matters, particularly research postdocs, but in regards to academic/research positions, your internship is a tiny, tiny blip on their radar. I don't even think I mentioned my internship site/experiences even once in any of my academic job application materials nor have I ever heard anyone be asked about internship on interviews. That said, of course if you have the choice, take the more prestigious name but "prestige" doesn't always mean better, and it for sure doesn't mean happiness either. I can name a number of "prestigious" internship programs with very very bitter interns who couldn't wait to leave internship. I think a lot of the advice on here is sound and I want to emphasize what was always told to me but I never believe until after I finished internship - it doesn't really matter where you go, just get it done.

(By the way, mileage might differ for specialized things like neuropsychology, VA, etc., and I'm only referring to general clinical (and child specifically in my case) internship programs). Folks in VA/federal/military/neuropsychology backgrounds are better able to answer this question relative to those specializations.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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Fellowship tends to matter a lot more than internship, in part due to the crapshoot that internship can become when you introduce a computer algorithm. I think fellowship is also preferred because in some cases it is longer (neuro, rehab) and there is more emphasis put on lineage…for better or worse.
 
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psychRA

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I agree wholeheartedly that going where you fit and where the training is suited to your needs is ideal.

However, this notion that prestige does not matter is simply untrue. If you can get identical training at a Harvard affiliated institution versus insert-lesser-known-site-here, then of course go to Boston. When you apply for a fellowship or a faculty position, having a prestigious institution on your CV looks nice. It won't define you, nor will it be the reason why you get the job, but it's a cherry on top.

Again, I would not suggest you sacrifice fit/happiness for an Ivy League institution, but all things being equal, why wouldn't this factor matter?
I think this is a good point. Certainly no one should feel the need to apply to sites that aren't a good fit solely because of prestige, but I don't think that prestige is meaningless, either. I did my internship at what is, objectively speaking, a prestigious site - it's mentioned as such on SDN when threads like this come up, for example. Sites are often (though not always) considered prestigious because of the caliber of training that they can offer, and my training experience was stellar. When I presented at conferences, people commented on my affiliation with that site, and it came up during fellowship and job interviews, too. It wasn't the most important factor, but it definitely helped to give me an advantage. That doesn't mean that going to a less prestigious site is detrimental, or that people should obsess over the relative prestige of every site on their list, but in some situations the prestige factor may come into play.
 
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Perhaps it depends in part on how that prestige was earned. Reputation spreads quickly, and if the reputation is due to truly good clinical training as psychRA mentioned, word gets around. If, on the other hand, the reputation is primarily name-based, beware. Like entitlement mentioned I can think of a few places with really recognizable names that would seem to mean prestige, but folks also seem to know that their interns are overworked to the point that training suffers and interns can't wait to get out of there. That reputation seems to get around as well. Internship should be all about goodness of fit, but I think the opinions of current and recent interns with regard to their happiness with training quality and life in general should not be underestimated in the ranking process and deciding how good the fit truly is.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Agreed. I wouldn't say prestige is altogether meaningless, and it can possibly catch an eye when applying for postdocs in certain specialties. But as others have mentioned, I would say it's much more advisable to rank based on all aspects of your fit with the program, including training opportunities they offer and your overall "feel" of the training atmosphere, than to bump a place down or up your list due to its perceived name brand.

If two sites are in a dead heat, then sure, possibly bump one up based on the fact that it's well-known. But personally, I definitely ranked some well-known sites lower than those from which I got a better feel, but that didn't have quite the same name cache.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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If two sites are in a dead heat, then sure, possibly bump one up based on the fact that it's well-known. But personally, I definitely ranked some well-known sites lower than those from which I got a better feel, but that didn't have quite the same name cache.
The best advice I received (and the advice I give to students now) was to rank the sites by how they addressed my clinical needs as an individual. A site can have the most interesting rotations around, but if they don't fit an aspect of training I want/need, then it is far less useful to me than a place that would help round out my training and make me a solid clinician.

The one caveat to the advice is on fellowship there is an added consideration of geography because many fellowships try and retain their fellows and/or can help you network in the geographic area. In some instances it makes sense to consider geography, while in others you go for the best place and hope that your CV is competitive for jobs nationally (or at least in the area of the country where you'd prefer to live/work).
 

WisNeuro

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If you're competitive enough, geography doesn't matter that much. Plus, it can give you contacts in several areas of the country. Helps out my current students when I can put in a good word for them at several institutions across 3 geographic regions. However, if you have your heart set on only one specific area, it can play a much bigger role.