In the world of psychology, your CV is comparable to a certain part of the male body. Everyone seems eager to whip theirs out at conferences to see whose is the longest. There are about a dozen different approaches for writing a CV. APPIC’s applicant portan recommends including the following categories (if applicable):
- Identifying information
- Clinical experiences; Practicum; Psychotherapy experiences
- Supervision experience
- Research experience
- Publications, grants, professional presentations
- Teaching experience
- University and professional service
- Related work experience
- Professional memberships, leadership positions held
Don’t panic! Almost no one has experience in every single category when they apply. I certainly don’t. You do not have to include every category; this is just a starting point to make sure that you include all the impressive things about yourself. My final CV, the one I sent to the site at which I eventually ended up matching, had the following categories:
- Identifying information
- Education (including information on my dissertation progress and the fact that my program is APA accredited)
- Practicum Experience
- Relevant Work Experience (paid positions relevant to psychology)
- Other Clinical Experience (my advocacy work)
- Research Experience
- Professional Presentations
- Electronic Media (my contribution to Dissertation Diaries)
- Teaching Experience
- University Professional Experience
- Honors and Awards
- Organizations and Memberships
I have no publications or supervision experience at this point, which initially terrified me until I learned that the average applicant has zero publications at the time of internship. I also chose to break down some of the other categories in order to highlight my experiences, like highlighting my advocacy work rather than listing it under Volunteerism even though it was an unpaid position. Make sure to emphasize your responsibilities at each position listed in such a way that it highlights your readiness for internship. The good news is, thanks to practicum and job applications, you probably already have all of this information written up in some form. The other good news is, if you are thinking of applying to multiple types of sites, you can tweak your CV and submit more than one final draft. For example, if you are applying both to child/adolescent sites and college counseling centers, you can submit a CV that provides more in-depth recounts of your skills working with children and another that emphasizes your experience with college students, and send each site the the version that demonstrates your “fit” with that particular site.
Also, when writing your CV, proofread, proofread, PROOFREAD. Then proofread again. Then have your friends and professors all proofread in case you missed anything. Not just for typos, but to meticulously guarantee that every aspect of your CV has identical formatting. Just before I uploaded my final, FINAL draft during my first round of internship applications I noticed that one of my sections was underlined instead of bolded. How embarrassing. Hey, we would not be in graduate school if we were not a little bit obsessive-compulsive.
With regards to including work experience that is not directly relevant to your degree, I have received mixed feedback on this. When I was first applying to graduate school, my advisor strongly urged me to list my jobs as a bus driver and an usher on campus because my GPA was slightly lower than average for the types of programs to which I was applying, and she felt it would emphasize that I could have gotten higher grades if I had not been working to help pay for my education. At this point in grad school, though, your GPA is most likely not a concern. I would personally only list those positions that you can at least link to your graduate work in some way, and leave your part-time retail job off for now.
Just remember, your CV is a list of all the ways that you are fantastic. Instead of focusing on those categories where you have little or no experience, look at all the great things you have done to get where you are and showcase them to help you get to where you are going.
A great additional resource from APA for writing your CV can be found here.
Oh, and for the record, my CV is 7 pages long. Aw yeah.
Tune in next week for my thoughts on your internship essays! Also, click on this link to see the third installment of Dissertation Diaries.