When I initially started this internship, my goal was grad school. I wanted a PhD and thought that applicable research was what would get me to my goals. I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and help people and I thought the only way to do that is through getting a PhD, spending 7 more years in grad school for the possibility, not including the gap year I would have to take to get more experience.
Recently, my lab manager’s position expired and she left the lab. We met outside for dinner with more of my research team and that was when I realized that I forced myself in a box for what I wanted/could do. When I decided on psychology, my dad pushed being a professor or psychiatrist and neither of those were me, so we met in the middle with a PhD. Upon talking to my former lab manager, I realized there is more you can do with a psych degree.
I felt forced to get a PhD because my parents thought a psychology degree was a waste. I had worked in a research lab before and thought I could tolerate it for a few years to reach my goal. It wasn’t until I worked in this lab and spoke with more grad students than I had in my entire life that I realized this wasn’t for me. Grad school is 6-7 years of research, where there is so much pressure to publish then a dissertation that you could potentially not succeed with. For what? I would put my life on hold for another 9 years before doing what I want and that is working with people directly, I don’t care to have my name in a journal.
So I spoke to more grad students, lab managers and even the professor whose lab I work for. This pointed me to social work. An MSW in social work is 1-2 years and the University of Michigan has the top social work program in the country. Just by networking with the people through my program, I was able to see a whole new life/career path that I have available. I enjoy the research I am doing now, but the most productive thing from this internship had to be opening my eyes from what I thought I wanted to all the other possibilities I have.