5 Types of Internships for Organizational Psychology Students

Five Types of Internships for Organizational Psychology Students

  • Labor Unions
  • Healthcare Facility
  • Human Resources
  • Manufacturing Facilities
  • Accounting

Organizational psychology is the study of the dynamics of an organization and the interplay between members of the organization and the organization itself. It can apply to:

  • businesses
  • clubs
  • even families

The gist of the practice is to improve the relationships among all of the involved parties.

Featured Schools

Most often, organizational psychologists focus on the behavior of employees and their interactions with each other and their employers. In performing their research, they consider communication and how it affects professional satisfaction. They also look at job performance and safety. When they form conclusions and create recommendations, it’s their aim to improve the complete work environment

As part of their education, students who study organizational psychology must complete hours in the field. How many depends on the university they attend and any accompanying specialties they wish to pursue. Generally, such students may pursue industrial organizational psychology internships in all manner of businesses.

Organizational psychology is a field of work that focuses on how employees behave in the workplace. A number of psychological concepts are used to assess these individuals and then to come up with ways to improve the workflow at a company. This can apply to different aspects of a company such as the:

  • overall performance
  • budgeting
  • communication
  • employee satisfaction
  • safety, etc.

If you are studying for a degree in organizational psychology, it might be time to start thinking about the various Organizational Psychology internships available. Let’s take a look at five different types of internships that apply to a degree in organizational psychology.

1. Labor Unions

Labor Unions for Organizational Psychology students

A labor union is designed to protect the employees of a company. There are benefits you get from being part of a union. Essentially, unions are designed to ensure that everything in a company is on the up and up on behalf of those who work for the company. There could be issues relating to:

  • pay
  • health benefits
  • insurance
  • safety, etc.

An internship with a labor union can educate you on working with employees and making sure that union employees are getting a fair shake at their job.

The relationship between labor unions and organizational psychologists has never been a particularly friendly one. Over the years, union leaders have believed that these psychologists are both not truly interested in the needs of the union and not impartial. Further, many union officials prize secrecy, particularly during the last 40 years. Ever since Reagan negotiated with the air traffic controllers in bad faith and simply allowed the powers that be to fire them with no recourse, it has kicked off a huge wave of antiunion sentiment in the U.S.

Many programs of study also don’t adequately prepare students for the inner workings of a union. Unless these students have experience with unions in their families, they might be lost. Fortunately, unions are beginning to see the value of organizational psychology among their members. Of course, mediating the psychology between unions and management is almost a lost cause because of the paradigm shift in the U.S. since 1980 regarding management’s opinion of employees.

Organizational psychologists, instead of focusing on job performance, reviews, and training as they usually do, can focus on helping union members cope with:

  • being treated like commodities
  • paid as little as possible
  • handled with little to no respect

Workers need psychological support in a world where having a job is seen as a privilege for which the worker should be grateful even if the pay and treatment are subpar or worse.

Fresh-thinking interns can help workers press back against unfair management in ways that not only succeed in achieving workers’ goals but also developing coping skills for the future. Interns can also learn a lot about how the business world functions during end-stage capitalism. These fresh, new ideas will help both sides adapt to an ever-changing world.

2. Healthcare Facility

In a hospital setting, your job as an intern might be to ensure that nurses and doctors are getting all of their lunch breaks and regular breaks that are outlined by the law. Many facilities are fast-paced and require a lot from their employees. As a result, staff members are pushing themselves too hard. This can lead to more mistakes and poor patient care, not to mention it isn’t healthy for the professional either.

During the pandemic, healthcare workers are under enormous stress. Procedures take longer because of the need to dress in multilayered personal protective equipment. In many cases, healthcare workers have to make do with used equipment because of material shortages. Then, there is the stress of working in an environment that can, even with the most stringent of safety guidelines, kill you.

The interaction between colleagues is made more difficult by social distancing guidelines. Supportive hugs are not allowed. Neither are reassuring claps on the back or a comforting hand on the shoulder. Many facilities are also short-staffed. Often doctors and nurses have to work through breaks and mealtimes. Often, medical personnel might not even be able to go to the bathroom during their shifts.

All of this necessitates empathetic, motivated, and understanding organizational psychology staff. They would have to work together with facility administration to try to alleviate some of the problems. They must help ensure that safety protocols are followed and that personnel get the appropriate amount of rest to avoid burnout. If any staff members suffer from a mental health issue, it is up to the organizational psychologist to treat those staff members.

Interns would have to develop new skill sets quickly to deal with the demand created by an overtaxed medical system during a pandemic. Still, learning these new skills creates better-trained psychologists who can handle any problems with both caring and aplomb.

3. Human Resources

Human Resources for Organizational Psychology Students

HR departments often employ organizational psychology interns. In this setting, you might spearhead an employee survey that will paint a clear picture on how employees feel about the company that they are working for. You may also partake in the hiring process or the process of doing exit interviews to help clarify how the company can function better and retain its employees.

Organizational psychology interns in labor unions or healthcare facilities are under tremendous strain. When working in an HR department, however, the stress is less. That does not mean that the work is any less important, though. During the pandemic, job security is a tough issue. An intern could be called upon to work with worried employees, assuaging fears of:

  • job loss
  • pay cuts
  • even the folding of the entire business

It’s also the job of the organizational psychologists to keep track of company morale and the opinion the staff has of the company. They:

  • conduct surveys
  • hold round-table discussions
  • sit down to interviews with staff members

Interns could gather the data, and the psychologists would process them. Interns would also be able to train in the science of analysing these data.

HR departments are the motivational dynamos that drive personnel to succeed. At a basic level, the company wants to make money. Often, this desire clashes with employee well-being, which can cause downward spirals in morale and production. It’s up to the organizational psychologists in the HR department to ensure that the drive for profit never obliterates the staff’s need for a healthy, positive, and motivating environment.

Interns would learn how to make the workplace seem to be a desirable place to be. As part of the HR department, they would have to listen to the staff’s concerns and relay them to upper management with recommendations about those concerns. They must also be able to articulate possible solutions clearly so that the right people have the best information to be able to make the important decisions about the mental health of the organization.

4. Manufacturing Facilities

When interning in a manufacturing setting, your job may focus largely on the quality of production and how efficient it is. You may be asked to come up with ways to increase these things. There might be something that could be added or removed from the manufacturing process to streamline everything and make more product. You may need to speak with employees to find out more about what goes on day to day and what can be done. Many times, the employees have the best ideas because they are right there in the middle of the work.

Manufacturing is complex. Each process must not only be safe and efficient but also flexible. “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” cuts no mustard in the 21st-century world of manufacturing. Social distancing means that workers who ply their trade closer than 2 meters from their coworkers must be separated from them. Organizational psychologists must wrestle with the mental effects of being cut off from someone 60 centimeters away. They must also tackle the efficiency of all processes and the effects of social distancing and other pandemic protocols on the processes.

As stated, quality may suffer in these situations, so the organizational psychologist must devise ways of dealing with the triangle of the workforce’s:

  • safety
  • productivity
  • overall mental health

Often, they could feel overwhelmed, which is where interns come in. They can do much of the legwork as they learn their trade by doing. They help not only by accomplishing their own tasks but also by showing through example that all others in the company can perform their own tasks as well.

The workers on the manufacturing floor have both experience and insight into the inner workings of the company’s innards. The organizational psychologists can pick their brains to find fine ideas that will help:

  • streamline processes
  • increase productivity
  • both

Further, they can also find out ways to improve safety on the floor.

5. Accounting

Accounting Internships for Organizational Psychology Students

Interning in the field of accounting is important because you can learn various ways to improve the company’s profitability. You learn all about how a business makes money while maintaining happy employees. There are many ways to research methods that focus on improving the work environment.

When it comes to applying organizational psychology to the accounting department, the psychologists are less concerned with the credits and debits than they are with the decisions made that affect the credits and debits. Frequently, organizational psychologists must ask, “Why?” questions to find out whether or not a certain strategy is good for the company long-term or the opposite.

Employees, managers, and executives all make decisions that have an impact on the company’s operations. It doesn’t follow, however, that the more power a person has in the company, the more that person can have an effect. Indeed, the lowest and least-experienced employee in the machine shop can have a great effect if that person throws a wrench into the machinery. Part of the organizational psychologist’s job is to determine why the wrench was thrown rather than to spend valuable resources rooting out the thrower.

In the 21st century, fixing what is screwed-up is much more important than finding out who screwed-up. The time for revenge discipline is gone. There is no time to engage in it productively anymore.


Organizational Psychology internships are a great opportunity to learn, hands-on, material that just can’t be taught in the classroom. You typically will work under a professional in the company who knows a lot about what you are studying. You will have experience that will set you apart from your competition when you enter the work force. Industrial organizational psychology internships are an integral part of any business’s smooth running. The new people who enter the field have brand-new perspectives. They might see things that the “old guard” miss by being set in its ways. The interns will gain valuable experience in their chosen fields and help reinforce the efforts of the more seasoned colleagues.

Related Resources: