Convention Connections, SIG Student Involvement

Div. 54 special interest groups are a great way to get involved; with over 15 there are many from which to choose.

By Jen Lee
The APA Annual Convention in Honolulu is approaching quickly and I wanted to share a number of student-focused programming activities planned at the convention. In addition to its general social hour, Div. 54 will also cosponsor a student social to facilitate networking between students and professionals. The annual Internships on Parade will also occur, allowing students to meet and ask questions of the faculty and training directors of child and pediatric-focused internship sites. This is a great opportunity to get all of your questions answered about the potential internship sites and personally introduce yourself to the training directors present prior to deciding where to submit your internship applications. Additionally, the Div. will host “Navigating Life after Graduate School,” a session coordinated by the Student Advisory Board with a panel of early-career psychologists discussing their paths through internship, postdoctoral training, and to their first job in pediatric psychology. We hope this will be an informative chance to ask questions of individuals who have been in students’ shoes recently and successfully navigate the process.
On the topic of conferences, it was great to see all of the students at the SPP Annual Conference in New Orleans this year. We had a great turnout at the Mentor Lunch with nearly 100 students and 20 mentors in attendance. For anyone who has not attended this event in the past, I encourage you to keep this opportunity on your radar for upcoming conferences. It is a great way to get to know the leaders in our field.
While at the conference this year, I had the opportunity to attend the Special Interest Group (SIG) chairs meeting to learn more about how students can be involved in SIGs. SIGs were developed to facilitate networking among members who share common areas of interest. Currently, there are over 15 SIGs, ranging in interests from specialized disease groups (e.g., epilepsy) to cross-cutting issues such as diversity and adherence. A list of current SIGs can be found on the Div.’s website. As the Div.’s website continues to expand, SPP is working to create communities within the APA website where SIGs can have conversations about current events and hot topics. These communities will also serve as resource banks where information relevant to the groups’ interests can be shared and stored.
Many of the SIGs already have positions specially designed for students and also pair students with more advanced members in the field to foster mentoring and student growth. Additionally, there are opportunities to present information at the annual conference through SIG programming, and work with other members on specialized projects across institutions to collaborate and share ideas. Often, students find choosing a SIG a daunting task, facing questions about whether they are ready to specialize, and if so, in what? Students are advised to get a breadth of experiences at this point in their training, yet many begin to face choices that force a narrowing of experiences. Know that SIG members understand that these choices are difficult to make at this stage in a student’s professional development. Additionally, being a member of one SIG does not preclude you from being another SIG member and is especially encouraged if your areas of interest are cross-cutting.
The only requirement to participate in a SIG is to be an SPP member. I encourage all students to investigate at least one SIG as a potential home to learn about the opportunities available to students. The SIGs chairs look forward to expanding the membership of their groups, particularly the beneficial energy and enthusiasm that students bring to their activities. They also want to communicate that when students are SIG participants, they have the opportunity to demonstrate and expand their leadership skills. To join a SIG, please email Karen Roberts and request to be added to the SIG that best fits your current interests.
I hope that involvement in these activities and SIGs helps connect you with the Division. As always, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts about the future of students in SPP.