My time as a fall 2015 Gil Intern was the first meaningful experience I had within the world of applied psychology. Though the hours spent and knowledge gained within my placement were instrumental in preparing me for the opportunities to follow, it was the Gil Internship experience as a whole that I credit with setting me up for success in both the professional and the graduate school settings. Sitting among my fellow Gil Interns on a weekly basis allowed me to hear about their unique experiences within wildly different internship placements. These firsthand accounts of the many different pathways one can pursue in the field of psychology caused me to realize that I wasn’t quite ready to jump into advanced schooling directly upon graduation. Instead, I chose to seek out an additional year of post-baccalaureate research experience at Duke University before ultimately deciding to apply to doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology.
The professional and academic directions I have taken since my time as a Giler and the research interests that I intend to pursue as a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia have been entirely informed by my progression through the Gil Internship Program. A large portion of my internship hours were spent acting as a behavioral interventionist within elementary schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system. It was during these student-teacher interactions that I first considered why self-destructive behaviors often persist despite an individual’s expressed wish to improve. This basic question has acted as a “jumping off point” for me, and I look forward to dedicating my graduate research to studying the automatic cognitive processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of psychopathology, particularly anxiety disorders. Within this overarching focus, I am specifically interested in studying regulatory flexibility and dynamic emotion regulation patterns over time. While I was not fully aware of these underlying processes throughout my internship, the ultimate passion I now have for learning more about them undoubtedly started in the first grade classroom that I frequented in Fall of 2015.
Finally, I will say that I often spoke of my experience as a Gil Intern throughout my graduate school interview season and found that most faculty members were uniquely impressed with this experience on my CV. Applying to PhD programs in Clinical Psychology is an inherently competitive process and being able to differentiate oneself from other candidates in this way was invaluable. I am confident that my success as an applicant was heavily influenced by the background I gained as a Gil Intern and I couldn’t be more grateful to have had this unique opportunity.