Tips for Landing a Postdoc Position: Insights from Hiring Faculty Members

The postdoc application process can be confusing to navigate for many PhD students. Deciding on what institution is the best fit, how you can set yourself apart from other candidates, and even identifying what postdoc positions are available can be tricky. To help you navigate this process, I decided to get some perspectives from the other side of the hiring process by asking some Sié Center faculty members about their thoughts and recommendations regarding the whole the process.

Finding the Right Fit

Before you start emailing faculty and  submitting applications, Sié Center director Dr. Avant recommends that along with salary and research support that each position will offer, applicants should consider the term, location, and job responsibilities for the position in which they’re interested. Where would you be willing to move for a short period of time? (Postdocs, at least in the social sciences, are generally for 1-2 years.) Are the responsibilities compatible with what you want to do? What does the position require? (Most postdocs require some writing and research; some also require participation in activities or research.) Specifically, at the Sié Center Dr. Avant states that the faculty are looking for high quality research, but also for research that reflects a broad view of global security issues and is directed toward contemporary problems: “We are specifically looking for students who want to engage with global politics as well as study it.”

According to Dr. Kaplan, who was a postdoc for two years at Stanford and Princeton, the nature of postdocs varies widely across different schools—some positions are with individual faculty, while some are with broader departments, and others are attached to research centers or projects. A benefit of being attached to a particular project or center is being more closely tied to a research community, which can be helpful since postdocs can fall through the cracks between grad students and faculty, and may have trouble connecting with an academic community. However, he states that a trade-off (if one can term it that) to that attachment is that the center- or project-based postdocs may spend more time on group projects relative to their own research; but this can also be mutually beneficial, since group projects offer postdocs the opportunity to learn new skills and methods, and develop substantive areas of expertise.

Conducting Your Job Search

You should be ready to apply for a desired position approximately six months to a year beforehand. Dr. Avant recommends that students also start looking at postdoc positions they might be interested in before that period so they are ready to apply when the time comes. “From a practical perspective, it might be a good idea to apply for postdocs and jobs at the same time in order to manage your time more efficiently.” Sié Center postdoc, Dr. Kelsey Norman, applied widely for postdocs and jobs. She recommends letting other academics (in your department or elsewhere) know that you’re on the job market. “This can help you discover jobs that aren’t circulated widely enough, as well as aid in your ability to learn about opportunities as new position announcement get released.”

C.V.s and Publications

When updating your resume/CV make sure that it’s clear and jargon free. Dr. Avant states that “applicants who communicate clearly and take the time to think about what their audience will want to know are highly advantaged.” Now, in regard to publications, Dr. Sisk’s advice is to “publish, publish, publish.” He advises potential postdocs to thoughtfully weigh the short-term monetary benefits of adjunct teaching (which universities will always have a need for) with the gains (such as getting hired and promoted) against longer term trajectories that come from a focus on publishing. He states that while he “would never have a blanket advice of ‘don’t make money,’ postdocs will likely have less time to take material to publication once the teaching, committee service, and other obligations of assistant professorship crowd in. ” Dr. Avant supports Dr. Sisk’s recommendation, asserting that more and more students are publishing in graduate school, making it increasingly important for interested applicants to have publications. However, she also says that “a very interesting project and strong recommendations from esteemed faculty about the worth of the project can sometimes outweigh the publication component.”

Hopefully this is helpful as you start your postdoc search. If you have any suggestions please feel free to add them in the comments section!

2016 Graduate Summer Internships to Apply for Now


Believe it or not despite the frosted accumulation surrounding us this month, January is a great time to start applying for graduate summer internships. Paid graduate internships are highly competitive and not as prevalent as their undergraduate and unpaid counterparts so it’s important to start applying early. Also, many of the deadlines for these opportunities close at the end of January/February, making it important to get your applications submitted before your window closes. Listed below are just a few of the upcoming internships we think will interest you. They cover a wide variety of skill sets and internship positions. To get some tips on how to conduct your own research check out our post Resources for Finding a Graduate Research Position.

ETS 2016 Summer Internship Program– Deadline February 1, 2016. ETS provides an 8 week summer program with opportunities to conduct research in validity or games, simulation & collaboration. You must be in a Ph.D. or Ed.D. program to apply.

Razorfish– Deadline April 24, 2016 (selection for interns starts in January). Razorfish offers a 10 week summer internship program in a variety of specific disciplines including business, marketing, journalism, and analytics.

Google– Deadline February 25 or 29, 2016 (depends on the field). Graduate students studying computer science, engineering, business, design/UX, law, public policy, or liberal arts will definitely want to check out the internships offered at Google. They have positions specifically for masters and PhD students.

Adobe Research– Deadline not listed. Adobe Research offers doctoral students with an opportunity to “engage in industrial research.” There are some really interesting projects including video puppetry and stress relief. Before applying for an internship be sure to study up on the various researchers who work at Adobe and indicate which individual you would like to work with.

Time Inc 2016 Summer Internship Program– Deadline not listed. Time Inc offers a general summer internship program and a Technology Summer Internship Program for students interested in many different areas.

NBC MediaTech Summer 2016 Internship– Deadline not listed. This internship is open to masters students in technical fields such as electrical engineering, computer science, Film/TV production, digital media technology, and telecommunications.

Learning to Lead Internship Program– Deadline TBD. The Independent Institute hosts a Learning to Lead Internship program in the areas of acquisitions, donor relations, marketing and communications, publications, research, student programs, and technology.

FDA Summer Student Research Program– Deadline February 27, 2016. The FDA provides an internship program for individuals who want to conduct research on “the biological effect of potentially toxic chemicals and the solutions to toxicology problems that have a major impact on human health and the environment.”

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Summer Internship Program– Deadline January 27, 2016. This program is aimed at graduate students interested in Advanced Technology Demonstration programs.

Pew Research Center– Deadline not listed. Pew is a great place to gain experience doing empirical social science research.

So You Want to be a Professor? Tips from a Newly Hired Faculty Member

leerer Hˆrsaal in der Universit‰t / empty auditorium at the university

Hello DU grad students! Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday break. This week we’re excited to share with you a guest post written by DU Higher Education professor Dr. Cecilia Orphan. Having just recently been hired at DU’s Morgridge College of Education, Dr. Orphan knows how competitive the academic job market can be. Below are her thoughts and advice that she graciously penned for us. Happy reading!



Given the vanishing nature of tenure track jobs, a job as a professor is becoming more and more of an elusive brass ring. With careful preparation and practice, you can become a competitive applicant. What follows are a list of tips for your job search including advice about preparing your CV and cover letter and nailing the job interviews.

CV Prep

Curriculum Vitae is Latin for the “course of my life.” Remembering the etymology for this part of the application is important. A CV is much longer than a resume because it shows the academic journey you have taken since undergrad. There are a plethora of resources online that describe CVs, so I won’t be redundant and repeat the good advice of scholars much further along in their careers than me. That said, I have three pieces of advice:

  1. Imitate: Ask to see the CVs of faculty members you work with and students who are further ahead in your program or who have recently landed jobs. When you do this you’ll notice that there are a variety of different ways to construct a CV. If you see a format you like, ask the person if you can borrow their style. Also ask to trade CVs with 3-4 of your friends and say that you’ll edits theirs and give advice about it if they’ll do the same for you. The more eyes you can get on this document, the better.
  2. Proofread: There is absolutely no excuse for typos, spelling or grammatical errors in a CV. Your materials are going to be in a pile of hundreds of applicants and reviewers are looking for any reason to thin that stack. A typo or inconsistent formatting (ex: periods at the end of some but not all items on a bulleted list, italics in some places and bolding in others, etc.) can move your materials from the “look into further” pile into the “reject” pile. A piece of advice I received was to read my CV backwards, from the bottom to the top, so I could look strictly for typos and formatting inconsistencies.
  3. Tailor the Format: Depending on the emphasis of the job application, change the order of items in your CV. If you are applying for a job that emphasizes research, put your publications and research experience first. If you are applying for a teaching gig, put your teaching experience first. This re-ordering will signal to reviewers that you are serious about and understand the goals of the program and position.

Cover Letter Tip

Again, there is a bevy of advice out there on how to write a cover letter but I’ll chime in with the following advice: similar to the CV, your cover letter should tell a story about you as a scholar. The best way to do this is in a narrative format. How has your work, academic and personal experience culminated in your wanting to be a professor? How have your experiences influenced the research you do and the way you teach? How do all these pieces of your life fit together? Constructing a narrative is particularly important if you followed a nontraditional trajectory in your academic career.

Being able to tell your story in a narrative format also humanizes you to the reviewers and makes for a memorable and compelling application. Echoing the advice I gave regarding the CV, depending on the emphasis of the application, you’ll want to highlight either research or teaching within the text of the cover letter. This means that in a 2-page cover letter for a posting for a Research 1 institution, you’ll spend 3-4 paragraphs talking about your research and the second-to-last paragraph briefly talking about your approach to teaching. In your last paragraph, you need to write convincingly about how XYZ State University is the absolute perfect place for you to continue your academic journey.

Interviewing Advice

Once you get an interview (or interviews), celebrate! This is a huge accomplishment followed by what will have likely been dozens of applications you submitted and heard nothing about. After you celebrate, it’s time to get to work. Nowadays search committees conduct a Skype (or phone) interview with candidates first before deciding to bring the top three candidates to campus for a day and half long marathon interview. What follows is my advice about both steps in the interview process.

The Skype or Phone Interview

  • Find the Perfect Spot: If it’s a Skype interview, find a quiet place that has the semblance of an office. This will take some creativity because as grad students, you don’t have access to scholarly-looking-rooms you can take over and use for an interview. I conducted mine in my bedroom in front of a bookcase and I told my roommate that she had to be absolutely silent for 30 minutes.
  • Dress the Part: You should be in interview clothes whether or not the search committee can see you. You should be in interview clothes whether or not the search committee can see you.Stepping into interview clothes (preferably a suit – it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed in these situations) helps you get into the mindset of an interview.
  • Prepare for Questioning: Come up with a list of 8-10 questions that you think they’ll ask you and practice answering these with a friend. Write down points that you want to cover and put them on sticky notes attached to your monitor. This way you can discretely glance at them during the interview if you get stuck.
  • Create Some Queries: There will typically be 20 minutes of questions that they ask you and 10 minutes of questions that you ask them. Your questions for them are probably the most important part of the Skype/phone interview. Your questions should not be about salary or benefits but instead about the work of the department, the strategic direction of the department, and how the department fits into the larger institutional context. Asking questions like this shows that you have a keen interest in the department and more importantly, that you have done your homework.

On-Campus Job Interview

The on-campus job interview is in a word: intense. You will be meeting with people who are far more powerful than you (senior administrators) as well as people who are more senior than you in terms of rank. These people are trying to figure out if you would be a good colleague for them. Every aspect of this process is a job interview – everything from walking in the halls between “meetings” (mini interviews) to dinner the night before to breakfast the morning of. You will be watched closely during the entire time you are on campus and need to be on your game 100%. The hardest part for me was shifting my perspective and self-view from that of a grad student to that of a professor. Here are some tips to help you do that.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice Your Job Talk: I wrote a script of my talk and rehearsed it probably 30 times. This is a huge time investment because your talk should be about 40-45 minutes, but it is so important. Also, see if you can convene a group of folks (with strong faculty representation) to watch you run through your job talk. Get their feedback, implement it and … keep practicing.
  • Create a Narrative: Surprise, surprise, your job talk should be a narrative of sorts. I included an “impetus” slide in my job talks that described the impetus for my research. This helped my audience get to know me and also helped them see the trajectory of my work.
  • Select the Right Person: When it’s time for questions, call on the oldest person in the room. Also, pay attention to the person other people seem to defer to and really listen to. This person is likely someone with a ton of informal power who will make or break your interview. Make sure you establish a connection with this person.
  • Get to Know Everyone: Remember that you’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Try to think of it as an opportunity to get to know new colleagues you will see at conferences for the rest of your life, and not as a do-or-die interview.
  • Approach Student Interviewing Earnestly: If the search committee has students interview you, take this very seriously. Students will report back to their faculty colleagues about how serious you took the interview.
  • Make Meaningful Connections: Read the last 3-5 articles written by every person in the department and think through ways your work compliments but is also distinct from theirs. Then be able to speak to these points of connection and areas in which you would add something new but related to their department.
  • Implement Mnemonic Devices: Print pictures of people and memorize them on the plane. Keep a cheat sheet in your brief case during the day. Calling folks by their names is extremely important. Do this in group interviews, “That’s a very interesting question, Cecilia … blah blah blah.” People like to hear their names. Calling folks by their name also shows that you have an interest in them as individuals.
  • Nix the Caffeine: Don’t drink too much coffee (unless you are exhausted). Your nerves are already going to be in overdrive. Coffee can exacerbate this. And for god’s sake, do not get drunk at dinner! I suggest ordering a glass of wine or a beer and sipping it throughout dinner.
  • Personalize the Follow-Up Email: Take notes about each person and send personalized thank you notes. If there is a question that you don’t know the answer to, say, “That’s an interesting and important question. I don’t know the answer to it now but I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Then follow up with that person through email and answer the question. Doing this shows that you are thoughtful and interested in ongoing scholarly engagement. If you wish that you had answered a question differently, after the interview email the person who asked and tell them how your thinking has changed or evolved since interview day.
  • Conduct Background Research: Take time to familiarize yourself with the mission and history of the university and come prepared with questions about how that larger mission informs the department.
  • Scrap Salary Talk: Don’t ask any questions about salary and benefits during the interview. This will happen in your negotiations with the dean if you get an offer.
  • Be Ready to Discuss Your Scholarship: Be prepared to talk through 2-3 concrete research ideas you will tackle in your first few years as a professor. A search committee is going to want to know that you’ll be able to stand on your own two feet after you leave the nest of your advisor’s mentorship. Having research ideas in mind will help with this.

My final piece of advice is to be yourself. Be exactly who you are. Authenticity is important for obvious human reasons but also important because a search committee is going to meet other interviewees who are trying to be who they think the department wants. That doesn’t land a job. Being yourself does.

For more information, check out the Academic Job Search Handbook. This is an amazing resource that will walk you through each step of the process.

Good luck!

Cecilia-OrphanDr. Orphan holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University. Her research centers on the effects of neoliberal ideology and public policy on the democratic purpose of higher education, the role of open access universities in facilitating opportunity and regional civic life.

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!