Assignment: Proffessional Applications

Chapter 8 Applying Psychology: To Workplace, to Life Business people discussing a graph on a lap top. Goodshoot/Thinkstock Chapter Learning Outcomes After reading and studying this chapter, students should be able to: comprehend the importance of networking in psychology and being active in the field, including attending conferences and reading widely published works about human behavior. appreciate the high value of undergraduate research and know that many benefits can accrue from involvement in research, including the establishment of a mentoring relationship with a faculty member. recognize the importance of national-level organizations to help organize and coalesce the broad field of psychology into meaningful and value-added organizations such as APA, APS, and Psi Chi. describe basic graduate school admission strategies and know the next steps to be taken if a student wanted to pursue this post-baccalaureate opportunity. describe the basic transitions processes from college to career and recognize the potential pitfalls and behaviors that can get a new college hire demoted or fired, as well as know the behaviors that can lead to hiring and promotion in the workplace. reflect on their psychology major as well as aspirational goals, whether related to a career or graduate school, and understand some of the next steps to be taken after self-reflection and career planning. describe what it means to think like a psychologist, and to comprehend the basic, fundamental beliefs of scientists trained in psychology and their accompanying views of the world. Ch. 8 Introduction As an undergraduate, it’s easy to think of psychology as this very static discipline, and if you want more information about some type of behavior, you conduct a search and the information comes to you. As you fulfill the curriculum of your undergraduate program, your professors and your online courses bring you information, and your textbooks provide a wealth of knowledge about the subject matter. The Voices from the Workplace feature box describes a passive approach to learning and understanding human behavior. Here I would encourage you to take a more active learning approach—that is, if you want to get a sense of what psychology is all about, you have to go and do psychology. We belong to an active and engaging discipline that is passionate about all aspects of human behavior, and although we do share knowledge in various forms of writing (journal articles, books, websites), interacting with peers and professionals in a conference setting can provide the energy and “juice” about the research enterprise. So I suggest that you go and do psychology: Work to become an active contributor to our understanding of human behavior as well as a consumer of psychological knowledge. Voices From The Workplace Your name: Steve S. Your age: 37 Your gender: Male Your primary job title: President & CEO Your current employer: Solera Networks How long have you been employed in your present position? 10 months What year did you graduate with your bachelor’s degree in psychology? 1992 Describe your major job duties and responsibilities. Responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic positioning for a high-tech startup. What elements of your undergraduate training in psychology do you use in your work? Interpersonal relationship skills. 2. Pattern recognition. 3. Positive and negative reinforcement techniques. What do you like most about your job? Each day presents a new and unique set of challenges. I enjoy rallying a team of smart people around a goal and driving the company to achieve that goal. What do you like least about your job? “Administrivia”—I really dislike the tactical administration aspects; things that most of us take for granted in larger corporations. Beyond your bachelor’s degree, what additional education and/or specialized training have you received? Two years of graduate school in psychology What is the compensation package for an entry-level position in your occupation? In a CEO position for a startup, one should expect a lower minimum salary and more equity. Base salaries are quite varied but something starting in the 150K range seems reasonable. What benefits (e.g., health insurance, pension, etc.) are typically available for someone in your profession? Health, Dental, and Life are typical. In a startup, one should not expect a 401k; rather company equity is more common. What are the key skills necessary for you to succeed in your career? 1. Work ethic—being willing to put in the hours to insure success. 2. Attention to detail. 3. Good pattern recognition and interpersonal skills. Thinking back to your undergraduate career, what courses would you recommend that you believe are key to success in your type of career? Intro to Learning, Statistics, Social Psych. Thinking back to your undergraduate career, can you think of outside of class activities (e.g., research assistantships, internships, Psi Chi, etc.) that were key to success in your type of career? Working in Hal Miller’s lab was a great experience. Acting as a manager of the operation gave me great experience in handling budgets, people, and projects. Looking back, this may have provided the single most salient experience that could be directly applied to my current position. As an undergraduate, do you wish you had done anything differently? If so, what? I would have changed my minor to be more practical (from Analytic Philosophy to Economics). I may have focused more on applied psychology versus basic research What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about entering the field you are in? Be prepared to work hard, face seemingly insurmountable obstacles with zeal, and otherwise be presented with daunting challenges. The payoff is satisfaction in growing something from nothing, and making a “mark” in your representative industry. Ultimately, if one is successful, financial reward will follow. If you were choosing a career and occupation all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently? I may have gone on to law school instead of graduate school, but I ultimately enjoy what I am doing now very much. Copyright © 2009 by the American Psychological Association. Reproduced with permission. The official citation that should be used in referencing this material is R. Eric Landrum, Finding Jobs With a Psychology Bachelor’s Degree: Expert Advice for Launching Your Career, American Psychological Association, 2009. The use of this information does not imply endorsement by the publisher. No further reproduction or distribution is permitted without written permission from the American Psychological Association. 8.1 Doing Psychology Good scientists communicate openly and make knowledge public. It does science and psychology no good to conduct wonderful, empirical, data-driven studies just to have the results end up in a folder in a filing cabinet or stored as a file on a hard drive. Good science shares the details of scientific discovery publicly. So, to “go do psychology” means to share your results and your research findings with a larger audience. That audience could be an on-campus undergraduate research and scholarship conference; a local conference hosted by your Psi Chi chapter or department of psychology; a statewide, regional, or national meeting of psychologists that includes student work; or perhaps a publication in a student journal. Yes, there are conference opportunities and journal publishing opportunities especially designed for students—these are opportunities for professionalization into the discipline, so that you can see what it is like to be a psychologist and to make contributions like psychologists do. Professionalization in Psychology: Research, Conferences, Publications Counselor spending time with patients in a residential home for the elderly. While counselors and clinicians may not conduct research once they enter their field, they often apply information drawn from ongoing studies throughout their career. Phanie/SuperStock Empirical research is at the heart of psychology, which is why your applied project course is so important. Perhaps all you want to do with your psychology major is to “help people,” and you may not immediately understand why all this science and research stuff is so important. Think about it: We are an evidence-based discipline, so if you were a therapist or psychosocial rehabilitation worker, wouldn’t you want to know that what you were doing was helping? That is, counselors and clinicians may not always be active researchers, but they will always be consumers of research. You may not want to continue to do research after receiving your bachelor’s degree in psychology, but you will need to be able to read, understand, and interpret research—and that is one reason why there is so much emphasis on research methods in psychology. The entire research process—from idea conceptualization to literature review to research design to pilot testing to data collection and analysis to statistical reporting and report writing—these are all key skills and abilities that bode well for your future, whether you are going to graduate school or not. So even if your future goal is to help people (which is a very noble goal), you’d want to help with the best and most efficient means possible. And to know that, you’ll need to be able to comprehend published research studies. This emphasis on research in psychology sometimes leads students to think about the teaching versus research dichotomy and ask, “Which is more important?” The answer I would give would be that both are necessary, and neither is more important. Without research, there would be very little for teachers to teach, and without teachers, no one would ever learn how to conduct research. The research-based experiences you have had in your psychology classes up to and including now should be preparing you for continued research experience, such as serving as a research assistant for a faculty member, completing an internship or independent study, or perhaps conducting a senior thesis project. No matter what your future goals after obtaining your bachelor’s degree in psychology, try to find opportunities during your undergraduate career to become actively engaged in a program of research with a faculty member. Not only is this a great way to see the practical application of what you have learned, but it also gives you an opportunity to perhaps build a mentoring relationship with a faculty member, who can be very helpful as a future job reference or letter of recommendation writer for graduate school. In addition to becoming more involved in research endeavors before you graduate, you should know that there are multiple outlets specifically designed for undergraduate work. For instance, there are dedicated journals specifically designed to publish your psychological research. Table 8.1 provides a listing of five journals that are specifically designed to publish undergraduate psychology research studies. Table 8.1: Journals that publish undergraduate psychology research studies, with URLs Journal of Psychological Inquiry Journal of Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences Modern Psychological Studies Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research You should know in advance that publishing psychological research is a lot of work. In fact, a more typical route for research (any research, not just undergraduate student research) might be to present that research at a conference first and then follow up with a publication. There are many good opportunities for undergraduate students to become involved in conference experiences, with the details to follow. Local, Regional, and National Opportunities Good science communicates through a number of venues, and writing is incredibly important in science. But psychologists communicate in other venues as well, such as local, regional, national, and international conferences where psychologists (and psychology students) make oral presentations to an audience, as well as present posters. The Internet has quickly become an important venue for sharing information about psychology, whether it is through instructor course sites, wikis, blogs, podcasts, or otherwise. As an undergraduate student, you may have the opportunity to attend a conference on your campus, or perhaps even a regional conference. Your campus may have its own multi-department annual conference. Sometimes a department of psychology will host a student research day, where only psychology students participate in the events, and there is typically a speaker who provides an invited address. You should ask some of your psychology faculty members if these opportunities are available to you locally. If not, think about starting such an effort. For example, if you are located in a region where other colleges and universities are nearby, you might think about organizing a Psychology Research Day where multiple institutions gather on one campus to provide the types of conference opportunities discussed in this chapter. And why not host such an event online to spotlight the research efforts of classrooms from around the country (and perhaps the world)? Fortunately, there are a number of regional opportunities for undergraduate students to continue their involvement in the research process. In the United States, seven regional psychology associations hold annual conventions, and all include opportunities for undergraduate participation and other programming directed toward undergraduate students (portions are sometimes sponsored by Psi Chi—more on this in a bit). For more information about the regional associations, including when the next conferences are being held, submission criteria, and the like, see Table 8.2. These are all in-person conferences where travel is required, but the networking opportunities can be priceless. Table 8.2: Regional psychological associations, with URLs New England Psychological Association (NEPA) Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (RMPA) Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) Western Psychological Association (WPA) In addition to the regional conferences, there are also opportunities for undergraduates to present their research at the national level via many outlets. For instance, students give presentations at the Association for Psychological Science ( annual meeting and the American Psychological Association ( annual convention, and these APA presentations are often affiliated with the Psi Chi ( program at the APA national convention. In addition to these psychology-specific national opportunities, there are also more opportunities for undergraduates to present research, but in multidisciplinary settings such as the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) annual meeting ( and the McNair Scholars Program ( Although the McNair Scholars Program hosts a national conference, the availability of this opportunity varies by campus—a search of your own campus website should help you determine if your school has a McNair Scholars Program. Panel and audience at a convention. Conferences provide undergraduates the opportunity to network with graduate students and professionals from other institutions, as well as hear about the most recent research in their field. age fotostock/SuperStock So what are these conferences like, especially the regional and national conferences? That is truly difficult to describe—in some respects, you just need to go and have the experience. Silvia, Delaney, and Marcovitch (2009) associate these academic conferences with binge thinking—typically a 2- to 3-day experience where academics work hard to present the results of their research, and sometimes play hard too. Conferences provide a central gathering point so that the fast-moving world of researchers can catch up with one another, as well as provide valuable networking opportunities (Silvia et al., 2009). Regional and national conferences also give you the chance to meet with graduate students from various schools and to interact with other undergraduates from other institutions, which can be highly rewarding as well. What would you do at these types of conferences? During the day, you’d typically listen to talks, visit poster sessions, attend workshops, check out exhibitors and perhaps browse or buy books, and network (Silvia et al., 2009). Thorpe and Ward (2007), in making recommendations on how to get the most out of the conference experience, suggested pacing yourself, wearing comfortable shoes, taking off your shy cap, and taking advantage of events specifically designed for students (at these conferences you may see Psi Chi events on the program, often centered on undergraduate students—take advantage of these opportunities if you can). Let’s say you are convinced to submit your work to a conference—now what? After you’ve found the conference you want to attend, seek out the information about submitting. Conferences have strict deadlines about submitting and very strict instructions about how to submit. In fact, in some of my own work with a former undergraduate student (Haines & Landrum, 2008), we asked faculty members who often review conference submissions what would be the top reasons to reject a student’s submission to a conference—in other words, what are the mistakes to avoid? About 96% of faculty indicated that poor writing quality was a reason to reject a student’s submission for conference presentation, and about 92% agreed that a late submission was a reason for rejection. Try to locate a faculty member to help ensure that your writing quality is high (by the way, some conferences will require a faculty sponsor anyway, so including a faculty member as a helper or mentor is a good idea), and make sure you submit on time. If you are successful in getting your conference submission accepted, congratulations; but the work is not done. If you plan on presenting a poster, there are many good resources to help you with that process, including Landrum (2008), Silvia et al. (2009), Stambor (2008), and Sue and Ritter (2007). If you will be giving a conference talk, you can find some valuable tips on preparation in Landrum and Davis (2010) and Silvia et al. (2009). If you are fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend a conference, and even more fortunate to be able to present your research, seize the opportunity and make the most of it—this is a great chance to enhance your skills and advance your professionalization into psychology.