True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers- Julia

Greetings grad students! We’re excited to bring you our fourth installment of True Stories, Julia Cawthra. Julia did her summer internship at Wellspring Campus just like Ben, but instead of basking in the California sun, her journey took her to the Lone Star State.

julia Cawthra-True Stories-Office of Graduate StudiesIntern: Julia Cawthra, master’s student majoring in sport and performance psychology

EmployerRivermend Health Wellspring Camps a weight loss camp for kids, teens, young adults, and women. Services include behavioral health experts, cognitive behavioral therapy, culinary and nutritional training, lifestyle management, exercise and physical activity, and continuing care.


What she did

From June–August 2014, I was in San Marcos, Texas, working with overweight to obese youth aged 11–24. The campers voluntarily gave up anywhere from three to eight weeks of their summers to develop and build a healthy lifestyle. My role as a behavioral coach was to empower them to make those difficult, daunting changes so they could achieve their goals of a healthy weight and active lifestyle that continued past their time at camp. I met with 15–20 campers individually on a weekly basis and ran between four and six groups each week. We discussed the difficulties of camp in general, being away from their families, and then of course the difficulty and importance of making this lifestyle change. Every three weeks, I held individual meetings with the campers and their parents to discuss changes at home that would help facilitate a lasting change.

How her summer internship helped her career

At Wellspring I was able to work with an individual client base that provided me with the experience I wanted to go on and get my PhD to obtain licensure as a psychologist. I was provided with a wonderful real world application to what I was learning in my classes, and the individual and group sessions helped me feel more comfortable coming into my second year of coursework. Additionally, I felt very nurtured as someone new to practicing that enabled me to learn and develop as a future practitioner. I also got accepted into my top choice PhD program at Indiana, so I’d like to think my experience over a short 9 weeks at Wellspring really boosted my chances there!

Advice she’d give to DU grad students

  • Start early: I applied to Wellspring around February or March, which I thought was pretty early but others had secured employment earlier than that. Definitely not ideal to wait until the last minute because many positions require specific training before starting the job.
  • Be prepared to be busy: As far as things to look out for, Wellspring is exhausting but such a wonderful experience if you like the camp environment of your youth days. I generally enjoy having alone time as part of my daily routine, and that was cut short while at Wellspring (but I thoroughly loved spending that extra time with the kids because they were so loving and fun).
  • Expect the unexpected: I would say the most difficult and surprising part of the job was connecting and communicating with the parents of the campers. Those interactions were difficult mostly for the eye-opening detail they provided into why the campers were struggling so much.
  • Speak up: If you are looking for specific hours for certification or licensure, be sure to mention that to the employer; they might be willing to accommodate your needs if they value you as an employee (that being said, if they don’t accommodate you it does not mean they don’t value you!). I wish I would have known the possibility of a variable end date to the position. Everything worked out for me in the end, but some people in my position were not on staff for the full 9 weeks as I initially expected, which affected the pay that we expected to receive.

The aftermath of the summer has been interesting. Initially I was thankful for the experience but was not considering returning for subsequent summers. Now I am yearning to go back and keep working at Wellspring because of the positive relationships created, not only with my fellow colleagues but also the higher positions within the company. Wellspring is a very enhancing environment!

True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers- Alex

Happy summer pios! Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day. The third installment of our True Stories series highlights Alex, a master’s student who’s internship experience resulted in a job offer!

Alex Easterbrook-True Stories-Office of Graduate StudiesIntern: Alex Easterbrook, second-year master’s student in forensic psychology

Employers: A.B. Counseling: A counseling center that offers personalized treatment plans for offenders, allowing them to reach an optimal quality of life.

Mental Health Center of Denver: A private recovery center that assists individuals recovering from mental illness. Alex was specifically involved with the Denver First program offered through the Mental Health Center.



What She Did

A.B. Counseling: I led individual and group therapy sessions with different types of offenders, including domestic violence offenders and sex offenders. I also conducted intakes there. I enjoy working with offenders and helping people, especially in individual therapy. The work is never the same because everyone I work with is different and has their own story.

Mental Health Center of Denver/Denver First: I, along with four other students in my program, conducted assessments at jails with “frequent flyer” offenders, meaning they continue to end up in jail over and over again. Our job was to conduct a few different assessments to identify the strengths and challenges that will help and/or hinder the inmates from being successful in the community. After meeting with an individual, we wrote a report recommending intensive case management, housing and/or substance abuse/mental health treatment in the community through MHCD. I really enjoyed going to the jail to conduct these assessments, and the work was really meaningful and valuable.

How her summer internships helped her career

A.B. Counseling provided me with my first experience doing clinical work . I gained a lot of valuable experience, including how to run group therapy, come up with treatment plans, conduct initial intake sessions, etc. It was extremely relevant to what we had learned in class, and it was a place for me to apply what I had been learning in a clinical setting. This internship also resulted in a job opportunity, as I have officially been hired on as a therapist at the agency. My main focus will be working with sex offenders; however, I will also likely continue working with domestic violence offenders.

The Denver First project was also extremely valuable. I had the opportunity to use many assessment tools that are relevant in forensics, such as the LS/RNR and START. In fact, I ended up taking a class last quarter focused on the LS/RNR and START. After the internship I felt like I had a better understanding of class material, because I had real world experiences I could relate it to.

Advice she’d give to DU grad students

I think taking advantage of the opportunities you are presented with is the most important thing. I applied to A.B. Counseling as my second year internship. They asked me to start in the summer, and I gladly obliged. I wanted to get a head start and try and get the most out of my True Stories Quoteexperience. As for working with Denver First, I heard Dr. Neil Gowensmith mention the possibility of some work opportunities for students, and I sent him an email saying I was interested. Luckily, I was selected, but I’m really glad I reached out to him when I heard about the opportunity. I would also advise others to set boundaries, in regard to personal time and self-care. Although I worked at A.B. Counseling and did the jail assessments over the summer, I maintained a fairly set schedule and didn’t overload my work schedule. I made time for me, as well as time for other people important to me. Psychology in general, but specifically forensics, is a field where burnout rates are high and self-care is extremely important. To this day, I find setting boundaries at work and saying “no” when I have too much on my plate to be very beneficial for me.

True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers- Ashley

Hello grad students! We are excited to share with you our second installment of True Stories. The purpose of the series is to share DU student internship experiences to help prepare you for your upcoming summer jobs/assistantships/internships. Last time we featured Ben Lampert, a  master’s student majoring in sport and performance psychology who interned at Rivermend Health Wellspring Camps. In this installment we are showcasing Ashley Bartlett, a highly motivated higher education master’s student who completed two internships last year.

ashley bartlett

Intern: Ashley Bartlett, second-year master’s student in higher education

Employers: Arapahoe Community College: A two-year college in the greater Denver area  offering more than 100 degree and certificate programs.

Suitts Graduate and Alumni Career Center: Operated by the Daniels College of Business, this center offers opportunities for graduate students to explore career options, prepare for interviews, and advance professionally.

What she did

Arapahoe Community College (ACC): I worked at ACC as an academic advising intern where I assisted with database management and academic advising for scholarship students in effort to increase retention and persistence of these students.

Graduate Intern at Suitts Graduate and Alumni Career Center: I provided career coaching for graduate and alumni students of the Daniels College of Business that included resume and cover letter assistance, job search strategies, and networking advice.

How her internships helped her career

Due to my grad student schedule, I was actually able to accommodate both internships during the school year. My goal upon entering the Higher Education program at DU was to get a job in career services in the Denver area upon graduation, and I knew coming in that higher education in Colorado is a close-knit industry where everyone knows everyone. Keeping that inWordpress Quote (1)
mind, I was very intentional about seeking internships. I did informational interviews with directors at different types of institutions (community colleges, business schools, law schools, etc.) and discovered that certain types of institutions prefer you to have experience at an institution similar to theirs. That prompted me to seek out an internship at a community college so that I could diversify my resume. I also capitalized on my B.A. in business administration since so many business schools have their own career centers. Between each of these internships and my required fellowship, I was really able to take what I learned from the classroom into a real world setting. I also feel that my contributions in class were better informed due to my outside experience.

Advice she’d give to DU grad students

Grad school provides you with the unique opportunity to be in a position where people want to help you and develop you. Get out there and meet the key players in your field early on, and make great relationships with them. The more fans you have, the more opportunities will come to you. Also, be open to new and relatable experiences you may have not considered before. Advocate for yourself, and find ways to make new opportunities.

Lastly, my taking advantage of multiple opportunities helped to substantially grow my network in a short amount of time. This networking certainly paid off. I had options in my career search, and have even been able to secure a position prior to graduation.

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July! If you have any advice you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments!

True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers- Ben

Ah…it’s summertime. After the madness that are winter and spring quarters, you’re probably looking forward to days by the pool, ascending a fourteener, or maybe just enjoying a little R & R. Or…maybe you’re gearing up for your next adventure: The Summer Internship. Summer internships are a wonderful time to gain real-world experience in your area of study. To help prepare you for this endeavor we have launched a summer series True Stories: How Grad Students Used Summer Internships to Launch Their Careers. We interviewed five DU graduate students and got the skinny on their summer internship experiences. Each post will focus on the specifics relating what they learned and advice they’d like to relay to you as you venture into your own endeavors. Our first student is Ben Lampert, who actually met his fiancé whilst doing his internship!

Ben Lampert

InternBen Lampert, second year master’s student majoring in sport and performance psychology

EmployerRivermend Health Wellspring Camps a weight loss camp for kids, teens, young adults, and women. Services include behavioral health experts, cognitive behavioral therapy, culinary and nutritional training, lifestyle management, exercise and physical activity, and continuing care.

What he did

I spent nine weeks on the campus of UCSD where I worked as a behavioral coach. I managed a caseload of 15–20 individuals and four groups of 4–6 individuals. I provided them with mental health counseling and performance-based interventions to aid in their journey to become healthier, more confident versions of themselves. The main objective for the campers was to lose weight and part of my job was to equip participants with habits that would transcend outside of the program. I also spent lots of time “putting out fires” and dealing with crises such as suicide ideation, cutting, fighting, running away, and anxiety/depression.

How his summer internship helped his career

My summer experience with Wellspring Camps was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to take what I learned during my first year as a master’s student in DU’s Sport & Performance Psychology program and immediately apply it in a real world setting. As a behavioral coach I was urged to use my evolving theory of performance excellence in conjunction with Wellspring’s clinical behavioral health model to positively influence and improve the lives of obese teenagers and young adults. One of the best parts about our program at DU is the applied nature of it. I have always been a “trial and error” kind of guy and my work at Wellspring, in conjunction with my formal learning at DU, allowed me to try different approaches and practice what I learned in a safe and supportive environment. Oh, and did I mention, I was able to play a part in what was the best summer of their lives for many of these campers?! After my internship I was able to then return to the classroom with great momentum.

Advice he’d give to DU grad students


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  • Apply Early: This opportunity came across our program’s listserv and I jumped on it right
    away. This allowed me to be in the very first wave of interviews a few weeks into January and provided me with the flexibility to choose my location.
  • Relinquish Control: Use a summer internship to step outside your comfort zone, embrace the unknowns, and further develop your own skill set while helping others at the same time.
  • Take a Step Back: Looking back at my experience, I realize I was in a bubble of sorts and it would have suited me well to pop the bubble and disengage from the go-go-go mentality of summer camp every now and then.

If you take one message from all this, I think it should be to be pro-active, ask questions, and see what summer internships/jobs are out there as early as possible (I did it over winter break). Allow yourself to do something new that’s outside of your comfort zone. If you do this, you can’t go wrong and you will find a satisfying summer experience that may even change your life! It sure changed mine…I’m marrying my fiancé this August, someone I met through a connection from Wellspring!

Top 3 Ways Grad Students Can Stand Out in the Job Market

Image Author: ausgegrenzt

On a daily basis, graduate students ask me about how to stand out as the ideal candidate in the job market. So when DU’s annual Winter Career Fair rolled around this past February, I went straight to the source: the employer. I sat down with recruiters from STRIVE Preparatory Schools and DaVita and got the inside scoop. Here’s what they revealed:

Got Passion? Start walking the Walk

As the saying goes, it is one thing to “talk the talk” and another to actually “walk the walk.” Meaning, if you’re passionate about your field, employers don’t just want to hear about it, they want to see evidence in your actions. One recruiter from STRIVE Preparatory Schools emphasized a need for students to articulate their “commitment to the organization’s mission,” while another (anonymous) employer stated they scan résumés for “evidence of engagement in their career.” Here are some ways that passion can be conveyed textually on a résumé:

  • List specific coursework that is related to the job you are applying to.
  • Record specific internships you have participated in.
  • Showcase volunteer experiences that demonstrate your work with the industry or population you want to work with.
  • Feature professional memberships that are related to your particular field.

The key here is tailoring your résumé. This doesn’t mean listing everything. If you are a member of an organization that is completely unrelated to the job, leave it out. If you’re still in school it’s a good idea to take a look at the jobs you want to apply for upon graduation. You may realize there are some courses you could take to help boost your résumé.

Sorry Folks, It’s Time to Own a Suit

Without hesitation, the employers I interviewed declared they want you in a suit during the job interview. One non-profit employer (who permits casual attire for current employees) explained that “dressing professionally shows that you care about the job and about yourself, whereas casual dress conveys that you don’t take the organization seriously.” According to Forbes’ Jacquelyn Smith, first impressions are usually formed within the first 30 seconds of a job interview. This means your appearance is most likely to have a major influence on your interviewer. So invest in a “power outfit” that exudes confidence and competence.

True or False? No Question Is a Bad Question

False. There are bad questions when looking for a job. Until you have a job offer, asking questions should be less about the company benefits and more a demonstration that you’ve done your homework and researched the organization. The recruiter I interviewed from DaVita, a Fortune 500 company in Denver, added that “demeanor” makes a lasting impression during the job interview, such as showing up early and asking good questions. This sentiment was echoed by STRIVE: “Having pre-prepared questions makes a huge difference.”

Two page résumé? … Only if it’s Merited

Ah, the age old question of résumé page length. When I asked employers their opinions on this familiar query I came back with varying replies. The recruiter from DaVita said 2 pages is acceptable for a graduate student especially if you have five years or more of experience.  Another recruiter didn’t hesitate with, “one.” STRIVE’s recruiter gave additional advice: “Make sure your resume is updated with recent information, and that the information entered through an application system matches your actual resume.  You’d be surprised how often experiences are missing from one document or the other.” As for more than two pages? It’s a big risk … that the prospective employer won’t bother reading your materials at all or might judge your inability to be concise.

Don’t Forget LinkedIn

Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date prior to submitting your job application whether you think your employer will check it or not. Allison Cheston, a career consultant and Forbes contributor, states that many recruiters use LinkedIn to screen potential candidates. It’s also a great search tool. Spend the time to cultivate your network while in graduate school so you have a bevy of connections when you’re ready to start your job search.

So there you have it. Tailor your resume, invest in a suit, compose an appropriately sized résumé, and utilize LinkedIn. If you need help with any of these steps or anything else career related schedule an appointment with a career services counselor today!

Image courtesy of Markus Spiske