Psychology Internships Prepare Students for Successful Careers

Psychology Internships Prepare Students for Successful Careers

MOUNT OLIVE- Students in the University of Mount Olive (UMO) Department of Psychology find themselves better prepared for work or graduate studies as a result of the required internship component of their degrees. Students can choose from a variety of settings, including mental health, research, consulting, schools, and community service organizations.

UMO Psychology Department Chair Natalie Kemp said, “We feel that the required internship sets us apart from other bachelor-level programs as it provides experience and networking in the field that many other students do not have.”

Junior Mikayla Koch of Mount Olive is interning at the Mediation Center of Eastern North Carolina. “I help with the Girls Empowered and the Teen Court programs. We attend schools across the county working with groups of seven to eight girls on things such as self-esteem, social skills, teen dating, and relationships,” Koch said. “At first, the girls are usually quiet and do not want to share, but by the end of the session they are very open.”

Koch enjoys the clinical aspect of psychology. “I like the idea of one-on-one interactions and being able to listen and help someone,” she shared. “I chose psychology as a major because it is a broad field that can be used with any career path.”

Senior Skilar Heath of Kinston is interning at the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Goldsboro. “I am learning the roles of being a vocational rehabilitation (VR) case manager, a case technician, and a unit manager, along with learning about the services that are available to consumers in the Wayne County area,” said Heath. “I enjoy many aspects of this job, but I most enjoy successfully closing cases by helping clients find stable jobs despite their disabilities.”

Senior Amanda Pate of Mount Olive chose United Way of Wayne County for her internship. Applying classroom theories into the internship has been an eye-opening experience for her.   “My Social Psychology class taught me about Erikson’s and Maslow’s theories, and I have used those in my internship to help determine the community needs assessment,” she said.  “I have also learned a lot about logic models and strategic plans.”

After graduation, Pate would like to seek her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, with the eventual goal of opening an autism center.

Karlie Abbott, a senior from Fallston, Maryland, is interning at Caswell Developmental Center in Kinston, working mostly with the male autism unit. “I attend meetings and review client behavior plans to make sure they are accurate and up to date. Keeping organized class notes has been a very beneficial lesson that I have carried over into the internship.  I meet daily with multiple individuals.  Keeping their information organized is critical.”

Throughout her education, Abbott has come to realize how fulfilling a career in psychology can be.  “I enjoy assisting people become the best version of themselves,” she said.  After graduating in May, Abbott plans to seek her master’s degree in human development and family sciences.

Department Chair Kemp concluded, “In the current competitive job market, employers want to see experience and not just degrees. Many of our students have gone on to earn full-time employment upon graduation at the facility where they completed their internship. Being around professionals in the workplace at a different level than in the classroom helps our students to see real-world expectations and that is a win-win for all involved.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online.  For more information, visit

Skilar Heath and Karlie Abbott.  Not pictured:  Mikayla Koch and Amanda Pate.