My summer internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health has been very beneficial to my career exploration. After undergoing risk and abuse training, I was able to actually conduct interviews with the participants (the children and their guardians) for the study. This training and personal interaction exposed me to different issues that I will likely continue to encounter if I pursue a degree in the mental health field. Working in the lab has also given me a greater feel for child psychology, specifically, because it is a youth mental health lab. As I am undecided about what I would like to specialize in, this was also an important element of exploring my potential career interests. Further, working in a lab with many Ph.D. fellows, as well as other young adults applying for different Ph.D. programs, has really forced me to think about what degree I need to earn to pursue the path I hope to in the field of Clinical Psychology.
Over the course of the summer, my career goals have remained relatively the same. I am still undecided about what exactly I plan on doing post graduation, but I still feel passionately about mental health. However, working at the lab has definitely influenced my perception of the importance of graduate school and my feelings about research. The lab gave me more responsibilities this summer, which opened my eyes to a lot of the different elements of research. I tend to prefer interacting with people over working with data and having that opportunity this summer was very positive for me. I have gained a deeper appreciation for research through learning about the different elements that go into it. I could see myself taking a year or two after graduation now to work in a research lab which initially was not part of my plan.
The biggest learning moment for me at my internship occurred during a phone interview. I cannot go into specifics, because of confidentiality reasons, but I think I have gained a lot of perspective about the separation necessary from work and home when working in a mental health environment. Finding that balance is important in any industry, but it is definitely an essential in the field of mental health.