Confessions of a Psych Intern
> 8/18/2006 10:51:29 AM

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"  Ah yes, one of the mainstays of the job interview, but is it truly a fair question?  Putting aside the fact that you more than likely are going to lie through your teeth in order to make a favorable impression to get the job, just how predictive is your answer really?  Thinking back five years, did I expect my life to turn out the way it has? 


Setting the way back machine, I was just starting graduate school for my Ph.D. in clinical psychology.  The program was laid out as four years of classes and a yearlong internship.  Each step along the way there seemed to an unforeseen turn.  I originally pictured myself as a teacher and researcher, but found office politics too frustrating.  I would have never guessed that working with people with substance abuse issues would be so fascinating.  And not once did I think that halfway through the program my funding would get cut. 


I found myself with the option of either paying my tuition or my rent, but not both at the same time.  Me, being the quirky person I am, liked having a roof over my head, and the university frowned upon students living in their office, despite all evidence to the contrary.  I managed to find a way to make ends meet without selling all of my blood, but it meant stretching out the time to finish classes. 


Then came time to apply for internships.  Essentially finding a place that would provide me with the training to enhance my skills and prepare me as a psychologist, in exchange for a year of indentured servitude—a daunting and highly competitive process with no guarantee of placement.  Internship site after site it was the same line, “We really like you but . . .”  Wow, if I wanted to feel this rejected I'd start dating again. 


But finally I did find a place that pushed me to the limits of servitude, but in the process taking me in more unpredictable directions.  So here I am, nearing the end of my internship, ready to go out into the world.  Wait, not so fast, I now need to apply for programs for *another* year of training?  More training?!  But a doctorate is a terminal degree!!  Apparently, it was not enough.  These days, even education is getting super-sized. 


Specialized training, or a “post-doc,” after finishing your internship year is more and more becoming the norm.  In the same way that a college degree has become a necessity versus a high school diploma, a post-doc has apparently also become essential.  So here I am, in the midst of interview after interview, being asked the eternal question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"


Well, over the last five years I've laughed and cried, loved and lost, and gone through experiences I never expected.  Who knows what the next five years will bring.  For that matter, I'm not quite sure where I'll be in five weeks.  Alas, once more into the breach. 


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