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Top 5 Things to Consider Before Graduation

May 30, 2019

Graduate school – especially the 11-month MA at MSP – will take over your life. When we finish, most of us are really at the end of what we can give to the process. And that’s a good thing.

When you finish your degree, you are prepared to begin your career, but you may not be ready. That’s okay too.

It’s third semester at MSP. All the nervous optimism of first semester and the dug-in sense of competence from second may be evaporating around now. To the soon to be graduates who are starting to lose a little footing, starting to feel afraid – I see you.

Four years have passed since I was in your shoes. Here are the 5 things I want you to think about before graduation:

1. Enjoy this time as an early career psychologist. Being a beginner is wonderful. And you may always feel like one. Each person you work with will offer herself up to you in a fresh jumble of complexity.

Embrace your new-ness. Stay fresh in your curiosity, in all you have to learn from your clients. No one gets to be an expert on anyone else. So give up waiting for the day when you’ll feel like one.

2. All the clinical skills in the world aren’t a substitute for presence. Your clients need a witness, a companion, a guide who has been through the dark woods before and can shine the light.

Just show up each day with your whole self (or as much as you can muster). And relax those shoulders – you are enough. 

3. Continue your personal journey to wholeness. You have come a long way since September – keep working on it. Keep pushing into your tender spots, into what holds you back. Find a good therapist to be your guide. Do the work so you know what it looks like.

4. Clinical work isn’t your only option. By now, you should know if clinical work is for you. Not whether you are any good at it, but whether you like it. Whether the setting and context and process make you feel alive…or not. If not, that’s okay.

How could you know until you tried? Plenty of nonclinical opportunities await you. Move in the direction of your own interests and skills.

5. MSP is still here to support you. The relationships you have made – with other students, with faculty and staff – don’t disappear in August. Many of us will still be here (literally, in the building) if you have questions, want feedback, or feel the need to connect.

And take advantage of our community of alumni – many who are local to Metro Detroit – via our Alumni Association and/or our Alumni Facebook Group. Here are over 200 people who have been there. Reach out.

Cynthia Ransley, MA (’15) is Communications Coordinator at MSP.