How/why did you choose Psychology as a major?
I have always been interested in human behavior, how the brain works, and what drives us to make the choices we make.
What specific skills did you develop by taking Psychology courses?
Studying psychology challenged me to think critically, learn to ask the right questions, and become a problem-solver. It helped me better understand people; how we grow and develop, what influences us and drives us. These are transferrable skills needed in any line of work--and outside of work, as a member of society.
Outside the classroom, what opportunities/experiences were most beneficial?
Through the Community Projects course, I participated in the Girls Advocacy Project, serving as an advocate for a girl with juvenile justice system involvement. This was a phenomenal experience to give me some real-life exposure to the possibilities of what I could do with my degree, while making a positive impact in the community. As a former competitive figure skater, I also had a unique opportunity to get some valuable public speaking experience as a TA for KINES 104. I am a natural introvert, but teaching about something I loved (and was knowledgeable about) was a great way to get me comfortable in front of a large group.
Did you believe that you “had to” obtain more schooling after your bachelor’s degree?
Yes. In order to get the type of job in the field(s) that I was considering, I knew that likely meant more school.
In retrospect, what would you have done differently as an undergraduate?
While I started out as a Psychology Major from the beginning, I didn't know what I wanted to do from a career perspective until late in my junior year. Looking back, I could have gotten more serious about trying to determine my career path earlier on, so that I could have selected a few more courses relevant to my field and/or attempted to get an internship to gain some hands-on experience earlier.
If you continued more schooling after your bachelor’s degree, share your reasons.
Graduating in 2009, the economy was at a low point and the job market wasn't great for recent grads. In doing some research on jobs in Human Resources, I knew I would be better able to compete if I had an advanced degree. Lastly, Illinois has a great program through the School of Labor and Employment Relations!
Describe how you utilize your undergraduate Psychology skills in your current job/career.
I use my undergraduate psychology skills every day- both in my career and outside of work. In HR, I need to be an active listener, ask the right questions, think critically and solve problems. I need to be able to "read people" and understand what motivates and incentivizes leaders and associates. I need to understand how they learn, grow, and develop--and help facilitate that. All of these necessary skills are grounded in a solid understanding of human behavior.
What pearls of wisdom can you offer to current undergraduate students?
The skills you are learning as a Psychology student are transferrable to any line of work and will have a positive impact in how you interact with others outside of work, as well. Don't underestimate the power of mentors. Even informal, one-time meetings with others can teach you a lot about what you are interested in (and not) and what you want to do (and don't want to do). Take advantage of any hands-on experiences you can get outside the classroom, whether internships, volunteering, etc. You learn so much by "doing"!