If you’re exploring the prospect of interning abroad, perhaps you’ve received encouragement from academic advisors, or you’re researching opportunities for a gap year. The positive impact of international experience - especially when it’s linked to your professional aspirations - can help you to personally develop and build confidence, while enhancing your employability prospects as well. Read on to hear from aspiring clinical psychologist, Eniola Adeoyelawal, as he reflects on his time abroad in Athens and Cape Town, interning in diverse locations to gain real-world experience!
Hi Eniola! What motivated you to do two Psychology internships abroad?
The prospect of interning abroad had never really occurred to me before speaking to my university advisors and mentors. They provided some really helpful perspectives on why gaining experience abroad was so beneficial (even to gain academic credit) and made the process of applying seem really straightforward.
I took a chance and decided to go for it. What did I have to lose in applying? I’ve always wanted to travel the world and I saw this opportunity as a way to start this process. Having been in the US since I was nine, it was time for me to immerse myself in new cultures and new atmospheres. Just having those initial discussions with those at my university really helped to boost my confidence and push me to apply!
What did your Psychology internships in Greece and South Africa involve?
In Cape Town and Athens, my Psychology internships were both involved with non profit organizations.
In Cape Town, South Africa, the work predominantly revolved around the family structure and services to the community. Here I was able to visit different townships and hold sessions and activities for children that focused on developing resilience, self awareness, and ways to control emotions when placed in different environments.
In Athens, Greece, the work focused on one-on-one sessions with clients. This allowed me to get some practical experience actually talking with clients and diagnosing different psychological conditions. This was all new to me as I had only seen these types of sessions on TV or read about them in textbooks. I shadowed psychologists, social workers and facilitated sessions for the clients.
How did these two internships empower you for a future career in the field?
My biggest long term goal was just to get out there, learn different psychological practices, see how they differ from one another, and better understand how I can incorporate such practices into my own career path going forward.
Interning in Greece and South Africa removed me from my usual learning environment and immersed me into a completely different way of life. Seeing the different modes of treatment, how different healthcare systems work, how organizations make use of these systems, the resources available to them, and how the community interacts with these taught me so much.
I aspire to become a clinical psychologist, so combining these two experiences really allowed me to enrich my perspective on how I would position myself better and help my future clients.
Do you have any advice for others considering an internship abroad?
Whenever you start questioning if an internship abroad is right for you, go back to WHY you want to intern and what you want to get from the experience. Constantly reminding yourself of your motivations for the experience as a whole will push you to grow and make the most of such opportunities.
It is natural and normal to have initial anxieties, but as soon as you take that first step, each step from then on out will be so much easier!
It is so important to work on your independence and decision making skills. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone will show you just how capable and adaptable you really are. The more you strive to polish your talents, the greater your talents become.
How did your internship supervisors support you?
My supervisor at my placement in Greece was amazing. She really helped me overcome any language barriers, showed me how their organization operates, how to do the sessions and assessments. She would give me scheduling sheets to manage my time, instructions on how sessions were to be run and what they would look like.
My supervisor in Cape Town pushed me to learn how to operate in a different social and cultural context. They too provided a lot of resources to help me understand how to run sessions and manage different clients from different backgrounds and challenges. I felt very supported and secure with going to both of them during my internships, with any questions and concerns.
What are some of your fondest memories from your internships?
In both internships it was just so nice walking around somewhere new. I want to make exploring the world and new environments part of my everyday life going forward. Taking each day as it came, and taking in my surroundings, not only at my placement, but to, from and during my spare time, really left a lasting impression on me, how I see the world and how I am in the world. Just getting out there and experiencing it was amazing to me.
Ready to start planning your own internship abroad? Here’s how to started!
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly - just submit your application to get the ball rolling. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.