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Volunteering Benefits Your CV

Being a student or graduate is actually tougher than it has ever been before. With a rising number of people opting to study for a degree after finishing college, more students and graduates are competing for entry level jobs, of course.

However, there are still plenty of things that students and recent graduates can do to strengthen their CV, and to broaden their horizons.

The most valuable is the undertaking of volunteering or intern work within the sector associated to the degree. This provides the practical, hands-on experience that employers desire. But it also offers you the chance to make valuable connections within the sector.

In an age when many jobs are filled through referrals, it is essential that students and graduates make themselves known. You need to understanding the importance of networking.

If you´re looking for a role in the environmental sector, health/childcare sector or teaching sector, workplace experience is of particularly high value. Whilst a university degree is of value, it is only a tick in a box now.

It is the practical experience that offers prospective employers the most information about whether you could be valuable to them. 

So if you decide to join a TEFL Teaching program, don’t show them your list of qualifications - just start teaching to demonstrate your ability.

PsyD Program Admission

PsyD Clinical Psychology Sample, Saudi Arabian Woman Applicant

Earning the PsyD Degree in clinical psychology will not only offer me the clinical and research experience I need at a graduate level, but it will serve as tool to establish a career in the field of psychology. A clinical career would allow me to utilize my psychological research experience and intensive theoretical background, and fulfill my life-long dream of working with individuals suffering from severe mental illnesses. Obtaining a master’s degree in clinical psychology allowed me to gain the research experience on a graduate level but it didn’t enrich my clinical experience as much as I would have preferred. Therefore, getting into the doctorate program in clinical psychology will definitely give me the opportunity to gain the clinical experience I’ve been aspiring to achieve.

As a Saudi Arabian woman, I personally notice the lack of representation of Saudi Arabians especially females in the field of psychology in general. The deficit of Saudi Arabian females with a doctorate in clinical psychology is a motivation for me to seek out a doctorate degree. Saudi Arabia is in an urgent need for clinical psychologists who will carry out valid diagnoses and effective treatments. There should also be cultural education and awareness on mental health and how crucial it is to minimize the stigma around it. By receiving a doctorate degree, I will be more qualified and experienced to do my job ethically, and ready to face any challenges this career would bring. I’m very passionate about utilizing all the experiences I’ve had from my education in the United Kingdom and the United States, and bring it back for my people to benefit from.

I’m interested in working in the area of adult psychopathology, and in better understanding the etiology and treatments of severe illnesses by utilizing the biopsychosocial model. The role of genetic predisposition is another topic that fascinates me. Looking at high risk and low risk populations, and understanding the crucial role of the environment and its influence on genes is definitely an area that I would seek to explore. Therefore, I would like to have exposure and work with different populations to have a more realistic impression of all mental illnesses and assist in understanding its co morbidity with other illnesses and their treatments. I fully comprehend that I will be examining and working with a population in the UK, where the etiology of mental illness is completely different from that of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, looking at ecological factors that determine the difference in symptoms between populations is another interest of mine, which will assist in understanding how to apply everything learnt and use it with ecological validity back home.

At Columbia University Dr. Helen Verdeli directed my master’s thesis. My research was a qualitative study looking at the experiences of children born to mothers with Schizophrenia. Using semi-structured interviews, I explored their experiences regarding their perception on their mothers’ illness and how it affected their personal, social, and occupational functioning. Dr. Verdeli was very intrigued by the research idea and was later very impressed by the results.

Throughout the second year of my masters program I interned at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. I worked for the department of child and adolescent psychiatry under Dr. Christiane Duarte’s study on the Puerto Rican Youths in the south of Bronx. It is a longitudinal study that started in 2002 and is still going on till today. It examined the emotional and sexual behaviors of Puerto Rican youths in Puerto Rico and the South of Bronx through the use of structured interviews and HIV/STI testing. I initially worked on data collection as a recruiter, but then I was able to get training in interviewing and giving HIV/STI tests, and I was able to administer computer diagnostic interviews for the rest of my internship. I also helped with case reviews and data auditing, which helped me in understanding the data analysis part of the study. My experience at this internship was very challenging but rewarding, it empowered me to become a hard worker and an understanding individual. It also gave me exposure to clinical cases, such as participants who were sexually and physically abused, or participants who have used or abused substances. These experiences definitely expanded my knowledge in the research field of psychology.

After earning my Master’s degree, I was given the opportunity to get a year of training in an area relevant to my field of study. Being an international student was a limitation when it came to finding a decent job in the United States. After intensive search, I was able to find a part time job at the medical and behavioral health clinic in Long Island. I was able to work as a clinical assistant to a psychiatrist. I audit initial psychiatric evaluations, write follow-up and initial evaluation notes, schedule appointments, meet patients, and administer screening drug tests. In addition, every once a week, the psychiatrist would give me a one-on-one lesson on psychotropic drugs and related diagnoses so that I can get to understand all the terminologies spoken in the clinic. So far, this experience has been a great learning experience and a realistic exposure of what is really happening in the clinical field.

Since I’m only working part time, I decided to use my extra time to give back to the community. I applied to volunteer for the Arab American Association in New York as an English teacher for second language speakers and a translator for Arab immigrants who have been struggling with their English. The experience has been very rewarding and satisfying so far.  Although I have no background in teaching, this experience revealed skills that I never knew I had, I really enjoy teaching.

The experience of looking for a job has been an eye-opening experience to the reality of our current struggle with employment. I must admit to my frustrations at times to what it takes to get a decent job that is reflective of my educational status. As a clinical psychology graduate student, it has been quite difficult getting the clinical experience I’ve been longing to experience, and it has been very challenging when it came to compromising my expectations. Therefore, I’m very motivated and driven in the work I do because I eventually hope that this work will pay off, and getting a doctorate in clinical psychology will definitely be the key to get access into the area I aspire to specialize and ultimately work in.   

"I just wanted to send you a note of appreciation for your work on my personal statement. I was selected for a group interview, which I completed last Wednesday and on Thursday they contacted me to let me know I was accepted into the program. Thank you again for the great statement and for getting it done in such a short period of time."

The Humanitarian Side of the PsyD in Clinical Psychology

Humanitarian work might seems like something you might do for others, but there are actually a lot of benefits available to you as a PsyD student of clinical psychology. When you do humanitarian work, it can bring light into every aspect of your life. It can bring everything into sharp perspective, help increase your levels of happiness and satisfaction in your work, and make you feel a heightened and deep sense of purpose.

Tom Vickers and Lena Dominelli performed a three-year study in the UK on the effect of international humanitarian work on the student experience and the wider benefits that can be gleaned from getting involved.

The research

The research looked at two initiatives that responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: ‘Initiative A’, which arose within a British university and involved the construction of schools and community buildings, voluntary work in villages, and partnerships with universities and civil society organizations in South Asia. And ‘Initiative B’, launched by a civil society organization that supports, networks and builds capacity in social work in higher education institutions internationally.

This research showed that many benefits came out of the work. The village communities in South Asia, the university partners and the civil society organizations all benefitted.


The work brought up a lot of issues. Some students began to reflect upon their learning experiences and contemplate their own position within wider international power relations. Some of the issues that arose included comparisons about living standards, radicalized positions and expectations about gender.

Changes in Perspective

Students in both initiatives commented on the contributions these exchanges made to their future employment choices. The students began to contemplate working in areas as diverse as teaching, social work, medicine, the military, international development and diplomatic careers. Others reported that humanitarian work stimulated the desire for longer-term involvement outside their country of origin, and seek unpaid work of this kind. 

Skill and Opportunity Development

Their projects also lead to further formal initiatives and opportunities. Several students participating in Initiative A established a small NGO with local partners.

Many students claimed that their participation in these initiatives gave them greater confidence and skills. They felt more able to work in unfamiliar environments and across cultural differences. 

Both initiatives involved developing understanding and becoming aware of cultural differences. This was a learning objective. Students were motivated by their participation and a valuable outcome. Some claimed that they had previously held false assumptions or lacked important knowledge about people from different backgrounds.

Humanitarian initiatives can contribute to reflexive learning. International experiences heighten students’ knowledge and understanding about the external world.


Universities are now trying to equip ‘stay at home’ students with skills and competences to participate in an increasingly internationalized workforce.

The research findings suggest that careful, sensitive engagement by universities in sustained humanitarian work overseas, involving local partners as equals, can deepen the student experience.