New ideas, a fresh perspective, and a passion for psychology are just a few of the attributes that make students the perfect research interns.
In our Department of Psychology, our academic staff are research active and they have ambitious ideas for research projects. They understand that providing students with opportunities to gain first-hand experience is crucial to their employability, and some support with a large-scale research project will never go amiss. That’s where the Psychology Research Internship Scheme comes in – a paid opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and skills while supporting Psychology staff with their research projects.
To find out more, we caught up with Dr Stergios Makris, who looks after the scheme and the student interns alongside his role as senior lecturer.
What key skills and experience do students gain from the internship?
The great thing about the internship scheme is that it offers students the opportunity to gain work experience that is directly relevant to the field of Psychology. Interns work on real research projects, and they are heavily involved in data collection and analysis, and experiments in community and online settings. Experience in designing and running these experiments is highly valuable and sets them apart from other psychology graduates when they come to start their career. Previous interns have had the opportunity to share the results of their research projects at conferences, and some have even been published in journals.
As well as the technical skills and knowledge interns will develop, they will also gain key transferable skills that can be applied to job roles in any sector. I’d say the top three skills that interns develop are organisation, time management and communication – all of which are highly valuable to graduate employers.
What sort of projects do student interns get involved with?
The projects our interns work on really are varied, as they depend on what our Psychology staff are researching each year. Some recent examples of research projects include topics like alcohol consumption, ASD, cognitive impairment and cyberpsychology. Interns who worked on an alcohol and addiction study were trained in using our on-campus bar simulation lab, where they were able to track and monitor experiments to see what happens when people consume alcohol – a very interesting subject to study!
How long are the internships?
Internships last for a full academic year – students start the intern role in September and finish the following July. Interns are paid for their time and their hours are designed to fit around their academic timetable, so it’s a very convenient way for students to get relevant work experience while they study!
How do students apply for the Psychology Research Internship Scheme?
The internship scheme is open to second year students on our four BSc Programmes – that’s Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sport and Exercise Psychology and Psychology & Criminology. There are 20-25 places available per year for interns, and students apply via an application form, which has been designed to help match students to a suitable research project whilst also giving them a real idea of how to apply for graduate level jobs. They’ll be asked to read about the different projects available, and explain which one they are most interested in and why. They’ll also be asked to tell us why they think they are the right fit for the project – so this is their chance to tell us what skills, experience and interests they can bring to the role of an intern. Depending on the nature of the research projects on offer, there might also be an interview – this is another useful experience for our students in preparing them for graduate job interviews, and it also helps to match the right intern to the right project.
How does the research internship scheme support student employability?
The quality of the experience the interns gain and the technical knowledge and skills they will develop, will really help them to stand out when they apply for graduate job roles. They will have real, practical examples of having put their academic knowledge into practice – and whether they choose to go into the field of psychology when they graduate, or do something completely different, their experience on the scheme will make them more valuable to employers. We are proud of the impact that the internship scheme has on the research outputs of the department, but also the impact it has on graduate employability.