Psychology - From Classroom to Career Junior Year

cas_flag_juniorSupervised Research
Talk to favorite professors about possible supervised research projects you might do in your area of interest, in the summer or during the school year. On-campus summer housing is available. Take advantage of the online resources for research, as recommended by the department.

We explored the influence of the collectivism/individualism dimension of culture on childhood memories of young adults. "Imagination inflation" refers to the finding that after imagining events (they) previously claimed had not occurred in their childhoods, people show increased confidence that they remember those specific events (e.g., getting bitten by a dog).... In particular, my study examined whether people from either Western and Eastern cultures are more likely to falsely believe after imagination exercises that they experienced events in their childhood when those events are more culturally relevant (i.e., emphasis on individual vs. collective elements of an event)... The results suggest that false memories can be created for more plausible, culturally relevant events. Thus, collective and individualistic events had different effects on the participants, such that participants were more confident that the individualistic events happened in their childhood than the collective events. This may be due to the fact that many of the individualistic events were more straightforward and probably more relevant than the more general collective events. - Iulia Basu '10, Psychology

psy_ctc_person2Line Up References 
You will need professors who are willing to serve as professional references when you apply for internships, jobs, or graduate school. Professors and internship advisors make excellent references. Begin looking now for professors who know you and would be willing to vouch for you. Discuss your future plans with them and ask for advice and guidance. Stay in touch with at least three of them each semester so they can speak about your successes in an informed way.

Independent Studies
Interested in a research area but there is no course offered in the catalog? Talk to a faculty member or department chair about a possible independent study.

CAS Awards
Psychology has department awards for outstanding students every spring; they are honored at the College of Arts and Sciences awards night in April. Attend the event and look for projects that might earn you this honor. With your faculty advisor, gain experience in entering such a competition and learn how to effectively package and present your work and yourself. Non-seniors are often singled out for their great work.

Psi Chi
Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, was founded in 1929 for the purpose of encouraging, stimulating, and maintaining excellence in scholarship and advancing the science of psychology. It inducts both undergraduate and graduate members. It currently has 868 chapters nationwide. Contact Dr. Judy Primavera, advisor, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2233 or e-mail

Internship Plans
Talk to your faculty advisor about the two internships for credit that are allowed at Fairfield. Remember that summer jobs, not for credit, can be just as useful in gaining experience and building a resume. Here are three advanced settings:

  • Family Literacy Project. The Family Literacy Project is an early intervention program designed to increase the school readiness of low income urban Head Start preschool-age children through direct tutoring of the children and through parent education workshops. Students are trained to be literacy coaches and are assigned to work individually with preschoolers who have been identified as having delays in their language development. In addition to this supervised applied experience, several of our majors have used their work at Head Start to become involved in research.
  • Internship in Applied Psychology. Integrating both cognitive and experiential learning, the Psychology Department offers its senior Psychology majors the opportunity to work as interns in varied settings. Student interns are offered a wide selection of placements from which to choose, including working with children with autism, assisting probation officers, working with guidance counselors, learning about advertising or human resources, working in psychiatric facilities, etc. Each student spends at least 10 hours per week on-site under qualified supervision enabling her or him to use the skills and knowledge acquired as students of psychology.
  • Internship in Teaching Psychology. This practicum experience, open to advanced Psychology majors, affords the student an opportunity to explore the profession of the teaching of psychology. Under the direct supervision of the professional staff of the Department, students are introduced to the issues of curriculum development, methods of classroom instruction, selection and use of media resources, test construction, and strategies for the academic and practical motivation of students. Interns have the opportunity to observe participating faculty engaged in the profession of teaching, to share in some of the instructional activities, and to meet with other interns in a seminar format to process the learning experiences.

Final Career Choices
How can you best use your remaining courses and free electives to both round out your education and prepare for a career? How about possible graduate school work in Psychology ... or scholarships like a Fulbright Fellowship ... or Teach for America. Talk to your faculty advisor.

Related Programs
Fairfield has a long history of success in preparing students with a solid foundation for the health professions. Since 1951, more than 2,000 Fairfield alumni have earned degrees in medicine and dentistry and are practicing throughout the world. More than 500 others have opted for other specialties within the allied health professions. Fairfield students have been accepted at almost every medical school in the country including Yale, Harvard, Duke and Cornell. Career Options in Health include Public Health, Toxicology, Nutrition, and many others.

In junior year, you finish up some of the required courses. It is strongly recommended that you take at least one English course by this time. Most entrance exams including the MCAT have a verbal section. Scientific thinkers often are not as strong on these sections. Therefore it is wise to balance your skills by taking humanities courses which will force you to do critical reading and lots of essay writing. Philosophy, religion, English, and history are good examples.

Most students (excluding pre-meds) take their pre-professional admissions exams at the end of their junior year. Since these exams test your understanding of basic biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, it is imperative that you have completed your required courses by this time. The MCAT is given several times throughout the year, but it is recommended that you take it in late spring/early summer so that your application can be complete by June. Remember to request a letter of recommendation from the Health Professions Committee. The deadline for applications is April 1. The committee interviews each candidate, reviews their academic performance, and votes whether or not to recommend that student. Students whose performance is not up to Fairfield's standards may not be recommended. If this happens, you may support your application with three letters from individual professors in lieu of a committee letter.

‌Note: The summer between junior and senior years is usually a busy time. Now is the best time to fill out applications. This is more complicated than it sounds so allow plenty of time. Nearly all health professions schools have rolling admissions so it is to your advantage to get your applications in as soon as possible. However, it is most common for pre-medical students specifically to apply after senior year. Students who were not ready in the spring or who did poorly on spring entrance exams may elect to take them in the summer.

Package Yourself Professionally
Start building a profile, one of the most popular ways to find jobs and internships for college students. Establishing a professional profile page and networking with both peers and working professionals will significantly enhance the chance to have a flying start in the professional world after graduation.

Service Learning Associates
The Service Learning Associates (SLA) program engages 8 to 10 undergraduates each semester as student leaders to their peers in service-learning courses. Each SLA works intensively with one professor to support a service-learning course which aligns with the associate's academic background and interests. The SLAs meet regularly with both faculty and fellow associates throughout the semester and attend professional development training.

As Commencement nears and your job hunt picks up, what materials can you put in a portfolio to market yourself and help show your experience? Create a blog or e-portfolio to both present your best work (essays, research papers, work done through a campus club, internship or summer job) and to offer reflections on them. Your faculty advisor can help you sort through potential items and build a strong portfolio to accompany your resume and cover letter. Contact CAS Associate Dean Aaron Perkus to create an e-portfolio.

(Broadening Access to Science Education)
BASE Camp projects offer students an informative and fun week-long experience with actual scientific research, across all scientific disciplines at Fairfield. Projects change every year, allowing students to choose from a variety of topics including biomedical science, medicinal chemistry, forensics, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, marine ecology, software engineering, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, biophysics, and applied mathematics.

Sigma Xi
Attend the annual Sigma Xi poster session, held in Bannow every spring. Post your own work, or see the work of other Psychology majors. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, was founded in 1886 as an honor society for scientists and engineers. Contact Dr. Jim Biardi, advisor at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3465 or e-mail


Psychology career activities by class year

Freshman Year | Sophomore Year | Junior Year | Senior Year

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