Seeking ranking advice - Internship setting with maximum flexibility post internship?


5+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2014
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  1. Psychology Student
Hi All,

I'm in the process of applying for internship and am having some trouble with my rankings. I like a lot of the sites and one of the ways I am trying to rank is based on setting and the fit for my future goals. The problem is that I don't really have a clear idea of the setting I want to work in for the long term (or at least initially)! I applied to VAs, inpatient hospital settings, and UCCs, and can see myself in all of these settings for my early career. I could also see myself in PP, CMHC, or Residential. Maybe (or ideally) a hybrid of some sort, working a day or two in one setting and the other days in another. I like group work and individual therapy, and have an interest in working with underserved populations. I also think I'd be happy in a setting with training and supervision opportunities.

I am wondering, how much does where you go for internship determine (or influence) your competitiveness for certain positions?

Would interning in a UCC preclude me (or make me less competitive for) from a hospital or VA postdoc or paid position or vice versa?

Thanks so much in advance. I've really appreciated the wisdom from people on this forum.


15+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
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  1. Psychologist
Look at the UCC salary incomes. Then look at at the literature about the career effects of starting salary.
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Jan 28, 2020
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I've had similar thoughts since I'm applying to mostly VA sites and a few community mental health ones. I'm not an expert but my best guess is that a VA internship would leave the most doors open assuming you mostly want to work with adults in whatever setting since I know VAs value having trained with them for postdoc and job applications. Well-known hospital settings are probably just as good. But realistically as an early career psychologist it would probably look best to have trained at a similar site to where you're applying, but later on I would assume it matters less. Maybe it makes sense to think of prioritizing the sites that fit where you want your postdoc or first job to be rather than where you could ever see yourself?
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2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
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  1. Psychologist
If maximum career flexibility was my primary goal, a UCC internship wouldn't be my top choice because:

a) While there are more non-traditional college students enrolled these days, the majority of your patients will still fall within a small segment of the overall population and be in a specific phase of life.
b) You lose the opportunity to do a variety of rotations that a medical center setting would provide, including new experiences. During my VA internship, I was able to do general outpt mental health, PTSD, SMI (combo inpt and outpt), blind rehab, and assessment rotations. People's career goals and interests often change or get further refined as a result of these experiences, in addition to becoming more competitive for postdocs and future jobs in these areas.
c) I've never been in a UCC setting but from what I gather, training in evidence-based practices may vary due to supervisor theoretical orientations, limits on how many sessions students can attend for free, and pt attrition. Further training in EBPs that you're already familiar and new EBPs will make you more competitive.

Nothing will preclude you from a postdoc or job in a different setting but you might be less competitive depending on who else is applying. (e.g., less experience working on an interdisciplinary medical team, less training in common time-limited EBPs, etc).
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5+ Year Member
Dec 8, 2014
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  1. Psychologist
Really can't go wrong with VA training. It's pretty solid, generally respectful of your time off (strict tour of duty) and is well-perceived in many areas on the field.

Try to select a site and rotations that would fit with flexibility but also give you an edge in some specialized training. E.g., rotate in the general mental health clinic, but also then maybe PTSD or SUD, Beh Med, Pri-Care, etc...

Anecdotally, I trained at VA. My peers went in all kind of different directions and had no problems. PP, College counseling ctrs, VA staff, private prac, Director/admin roles, private health systems, pri care, gero positions, research/academia, etc
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