PSY Undergraduate Internship Spotlight: Alexis de Vries

June 21, 2023 - Shelly DeJong

 Name: Alexis de Vries

Year: Incoming Senior 

Hometown: Germantown, Maryland 

Major: Psychology, Bachelor of Science, minor is Human Behavior and Social Services 

Internship: Eve's House Lansing MI 


How did you end up at MSU? Did you come in knowing you wanted to do psychology?  

When I was a senior in high school, I did a lot of research about different colleges. My dad grew up in Michigan, so I already knew the general area. I always thought Michigan was beautiful, so I knew I wanted to be in this general area. And then I did more research about MSU, and I heard that they had a super good campus. I'm super into sports, too, so going to a Big 10 school was important to me. I did the campus tour and I just fell in love with the campus. Out of all the schools I applied for, this was my top choice for sure. 

I originally was a zoology/ environmental biology major all of freshman year, but I realized that it wasn’t for me. Psychology was always lingering in the back of my mind, so I decided to go for it. I switched to psychology and I'm really glad I did.  


What do you like about psychology? 

My favorite part is how broad it is and how it applies to so many different aspects of life and to people worldwide. No matter what sort of field you want to go into with psychology, all of it is useful and beneficial for people. I think it's really cool to have a field that looks into people's minds and can help people understand themselves better. It's one of the fields that stands out compared to the other sciences.  


Where are you interning this summer and what do they do? 

I'm interning at Eve’s House in downtown Lansing which is a domestic violence shelter for children and families. They stand for ending violent encounters. I am part of the Children's/Youth Advocacy Program, so I am planning, creating, facilitating different activities and fun things for the children to do. I’m trying to make sure that the families and the kids have as much fun as possible during this period of their lives that is traumatic and hard. 

It has been a really good experience so far. We did a quick tour of the shelter but then my supervisor let me get started right away which was super cool. I was nervous at first, but it has made me more efficient with my time management.  

Everyone at Eve’s House is super sweet. It's kind of like a big family. A lot of people there are around my age, so I’ve been able to create close bonds with them and the support feels genuine.  Everyone is understanding and super patient, which is really helpful when I have questions or get lost in the shelter. 


Does this internship kind of feed into what you're thinking for the future? 

Yeah, for sure. I know that I want to be some sort of therapist and work with children. I've always wanted to work with kids, so this is a great experience for me. These kids are going through a lot right now, so it’s been helpful learning how to talk to them in a sensitive way. That is going to help for the future when I'm working with kids who have intense trauma in their lives and know how to help them cope and heal. 

In my career, I really want to focus on helping kids and families deal with what they're going through right now. And being one-on-one with them, seeing their faces, and getting to know them not just as a mental disorder but like having a whole personality, a whole history of who they are. To me that is so important. If you are a good therapist, you can make a big difference in someone's life. 


How do you think your psychology background has kind of prepared you for this? 

I've taken lots of classes where we talk about the internal stuff like personality, the different areas of the brain, like all those things. I’ve also taken a lot of classes on external factors, and how that plays into psychological trauma. I’ve learned about mental disorders, age factors, and how to cope with all of that. I think all of that has helped me be more aware of situations like domestic violence and how they take an emotional and psychological toll on these kids. It’s helped me to take that into account and know what certain things to avoid and what type of things could help them cope. It’s made me more aware and sensitive to what they are going through. 


Has there been anything surprising to you about your internship? 

I think how happy and full of life the residents are in the shelter. I went into the internship assuming the residents would be depressed, pessimistic, and not wanting to participate.  But even from my first day, the people were so lively, involved, and working to get back out there. They have so much strength and ambition to get better even after going through so much trauma. It has given me so much respect for everyone here. 


Do you have any advice for other students who are thinking about internships or looking for them? 

My biggest advice would be to talk to as many people as you can about opportunities--friends, families, peers, coworkers. Also. I’d say to not stress too much about picking an internship that is super specific to what you want to do. My biggest issue with finding an internship was being so concerned about finding an internship that was the perfect one for what I want to do in the future. I think the best advice would be to expand your search and take chances if you think one is interesting. I think it's still important to just do it, so you get that experience. Even if it means you tried an area and know that it isn’t for you. It’s all helpful to finding your path. So, expand your search, take chances, and don’t worry too much about finding the perfect internship. 


Have you had any favorite classes or professors? 

One of my favorite classes was Society and Mental Health with Dr. Jodi Yelinek. The class itself was really interesting because it focused on external factors and how society plays into so many things that people don't even think about. That was cool to understand and to know more about. Dr. Yelinek was so sweet, super helpful, and understanding. She made the class almost come alive. You could tell she was super passionate about what she was teaching, and I think that made all the difference in the world especially when it comes to grasping the concept and learning. The way she taught was so lively, so passionate. You could tell she would get emotional with sensitive topics. I think that it showed me that people are just as interested in this field as I am.