12 May 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with User Experience Researcher Dr. Laura Faulkner

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have considered. As a user experience researcher, Dr. Laura Faulkner, PhD, utilizes her psychology expertise to help companies better understand how people perceive and respond to products or services. In this webinar, Dr. Faulkner discusses her "21-year love affair" in the user experience field. Learn how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career path.

Laura FaulknerSpeaker:

Dr. Laura Faulkner is the head of user experience research at Rackspace, a managed cloud computing company that helps businesses tap the power of cloud computing without the complexity and cost of managing it on their own. She has worked in user experience (UX) for over twenty years at companies and institutions: Pearson, FalconDay Consulting and the University of Texas-Austin. In all her roles, Dr. Faulkner’s focus is on “human beings: users as humans, development teams as humans, leadership as humans, all of whom need information and designs that move them forward in what they are doing and wanting to do. My goal is to collaborate and lead from inception through successful use, to make a difference.”

Garth FowlerHost:

Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

Did you find this webinar useful?

1 0
11 May 2017

Can I work here?

Can I work here?

Industrial/organizational psychologists offer their advice for helping job seekers determine whether a potential employer offers a good fit

Workers who feel valued by their employers are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and be motivated to do their best. They're also less likely to want to leave the organization in the next year, according to APA's 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, which polled more than 1,500 U.S. workers.

The survey also found that work-life fit—or how well a job fits with the rest of an employee's life—plays an important role in employee retention, says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, who directs APA's Center for Organizational Excellence. "Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives," Ballard says. That means that to remain competitive, employers need to create environments where employees feel connected to the organization and have a work experience that's part of a rich, fulfilling life.

How can psychologists determine whether a potential employer will give them that positive experience and work-life fit? Some industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists point to the importance of matching an employee's values with that of the organization. Others say previous work experiences—such as the factors they did and didn't like about a job or supervisor—are key indicators of what to look for in a new role. Overall, though, determining whether an organization is a good match has to start with a thorough understanding of your career priorities, I/O psychologists say. "It is as much about what your needs and preferences are as it is about the organization," Ballard says.

Look inward. Before the job search, psychologists should pinpoint what their work interests are, says I/O psychologist Edgar Schein, PhD, a professor emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Start by conducting a self-analysis of your career to date to help you determine your strengths, your values and what motivates you—or, as Schein calls it, your "career anchor." His research on career anchors has shown that most people place different amounts of emphasis on the importance of eight categories or preferences. They are technical/functional competence; general managerial competence; autonomy/independence; security/stability; entrepreneurial creativity; service/dedication to a cause; pure challenge; and lifestyle.

So, for example, among clinical psychologists, some want to work for an organization because they are more security/stability oriented, while others want to set up private practices because they want to be on their own.

He points out, however, that often one's anchor can't truly be discovered before spending several years in the workforce. "This really is a deeper level of knowledge about oneself that isn't usually something people know when they graduate," he explains. "They need 10 years of experience to really figure themselves out."

Network with experts. Early on in your career, Schein recommends reaching out to psychologists who are in jobs you can imagine moving into. "Find someone ahead of you in your career and get a sense of what work is like for them at that job," he says.

Determine personal priorities. Job seekers also have to think about their personal priorities and interests before they start their job searches, says Helena Cooper-Thomas, PhD, a professor of organizational behaviour at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Her point is backed by new research: In a meta-analysis of 92 studies with nearly 35,000 participants, employees whose interest profiles matched their job profiles were more likely to perform better, help others in the organization and stay with the company longer. The study, led by Michigan State University I/O psychologist Christopher Nye, PhD, shows that it's not a person's overall interest in a particular kind of work, but how their interests across various types of work match with the skills and tasks involved in a particular job. The researchers surmise that this match—known as person-environment fit—is a much better predictor of job performance than the more general interest or personality measures often used by college career centers (Journal of Vocational Psychology, 2017).

One way job seekers can determine whether their interests match with those of other company employees is to search for the employer on LinkedIn, Ballard says. There, you can often find employees' public-facing profiles, which can offer insight into the skill sets and longevity of people who work there.

Consider a "misfit" job. Candidates should also consider where they can tolerate or even benefit from "misfit," Cooper-Thomas adds. "If you're the type of person who likes to have fun at work by playing pranks or telling jokes, you probably wouldn't do well in a secure facility, while those with a competitive streak may conflict with the compassionate and calm values found in some health-care settings," she says.

But having knowledge or skills that are different from one's colleagues can result in more innovative ideas and helpful solutions, which can help employees get noticed and accelerate their careers, she points out.

Do more research. Once psychologists determine the factors that matter most to them in a job, they should read up on any organization they are interested in, paying particular attention to its mission or values statement, says Ballard. "Something that's often telling about an organization's attention to employee well-being is whether or not it has something about creating a positive or healthy work environment and supporting staff built into its mission statement or values," he says. He also recommends doing an Internet search using both Google and Glassdoor to see how the organization is portrayed and whether, for example, they've been embroiled in any controversy. "Look not just at the things the organization itself posts, but also the kinds of comments, statements and reactions they get from other people," he says.

Get specific in your interview. Of course, it's always helpful to ask about an organization's culture during the interview process—the drawback is that there is no guarantee that the recruiter's espoused values are the values in use, warns Cooper-Thomas. What can be more helpful, she suggests, is asking your interviewers to be more specific by sharing an incident at work that reveals the organization's values in action. Interviewers could discuss a time they were particularly proud of their employer, for example.

Cooper-Thomas also notes that every organization has different layers of culture, so job seekers should try to ascertain whether they would fit with the people they would work with on a daily basis, such as supervisors and colleagues. She suggests paying particular attention to how employers treat people: Is the receptionist friendly and helpful? Did the interviewers show respect by arriving on time? Did they answer the job seeker's questions honestly?

Gauge your potential support system. Also ask interviewers about the amount of autonomy employees have within the organization, the organization's structure and the kinds of support available, Ballard says. For example, if you're looking for a job where you're providing clinical services, you'll want to know whether there is administrative, billing and collection support.

In addition, pay attention to how formal or informal the work environment appears to be, as well as how diverse and inclusive it is, Ballard says.

And if it's important to you, talk to the recruiter and your potential supervisors about flexibility and work-life fit to find out if you'd have the ability to modify when, where, and how much you work to accommodate your needs.

Think about the "fun factor." Early career psychologists have spent many years studying and planning their career paths, and are usually quite passionate about further developing them, says University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Ayelet Fishbach, PhD. But when it comes to sticking with a job, people thrive most when they're doing interesting work with people they like, according to research by Fishbach and behavioral science doctoral candidate Kaitlin Woolley (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015). So, in addition to looking for benefits such as career development opportunities, it's important to consider whether you can expect to enjoy, be challenged, fulfilled and experience social connections in a work setting, the authors say. "A workplace that offers immediate benefits in terms of engagement and enjoyment is a place where people stay," Fishbach says.

Find out what a typical day would really look like. Finally, Schein encourages job seekers to get personal with the people they're interviewing. That means spending time to get to know the one or two people you have met in the organization by asking them why they got into the field and how they like their jobs. This tactic works best toward the end of the interview process, he says, or even as a follow-up call once a job is offered.

"What you really need to find out is not about all the benefits and bonuses that might be available to you, but what you'd really be doing day by day and would the people around you be supportive of that," Schein says. 

Trust your gut

Before you take a job, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Will I be pursuing my true interests in this position?
  2. Will I have the work-life balance I want?
  3. Do my co-workers seem to mirror my values?
  4. Will I feel valued by this employer and in this position?

By Amy Novotney

Did you find this article useful?

1 0
28 Apr 2017

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

Excellent interview skills are critical to landing the job you want. Here's how to prepare and follow up.

Some job-seekers think that they don't need much preparation before a job interview because they are outgoing or comfortable talking about themselves. But interviewing "is a skill and doesn't happen automatically," says Julie McCarthy, PhD, professor of management at the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada. Confidence and strong interpersonal skills will only take you so far in the eyes of a future boss. As psychologists who are experts in the area will tell you, thorough preparation is key because it helps potential employers get a deeper understanding of your competencies, weaknesses and career goals.

"The point of good preparation is not to get a job, but the right job," says Paul Fairlie, PhD, president and CEO of a human resources and organizational consulting firm based in Toronto. That preparation includes thinking about your work history and the competencies you've gained. "It's a lot of work, but once you do this, you'll have a better sense of who you are and the type of job that will engage you," Fairlie says.

Here's some advice from psychologist experts on what to do before, during and after a job interview to boost your chances of getting the right offer.

Before the interview

Research the organization. Search for news articles about the company and read its annual reports, says Paul Yost, PhD, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Seattle Pacific University in Washington. Invite someone who works at the organization to coffee to learn about the company's values and culture. This type of research prepared his psychology students for interviews at Amazon.com. They learned that the concept of "fail fast" is a key aspect of the company's culture—in other words, be proactive with a bias toward action, but constantly seek feedback so you can adapt and change as you go, Yost says.

"With this in mind, they knew to give examples of when they'd been highly proactive and adapted when problems arose," he says.

For academic jobs, study up on the school's financial situation and accomplishments by searching the web and talking to faculty members, says Robert Ployhart, PhD, professor and department chair of management in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

"Ask professors and administrators about the priorities of the department," he says.

Learn about the interviewers. Look up each person on LinkedIn, as well as on work or personal websites, then use this information to connect with them during the interview, says Laxmikant Manroop, PhD, assistant professor of human resource management at Eastern Michigan University. "I always tell my students that the similarity attraction paradigm applies in the job-seeking process," Manroop says. "Interviewers tend to view candidates more favorably when they share something in common."

Find out more about the job. Learn about the competencies and duties that will be required for the position. You can do this by looking at the job description and interviewing professionals in the field or at the organization who can explain what the responsibilities in the job description really mean, says Yost. Also, read about the specific tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities needed for positions like yours on O*NET, the free database that offers information about hundreds of job types.

Develop your narratives. Employers want to hear about problems you faced, the actions you took and the results—known as PAR in the HR world, says Yost. Write one-paragraph PAR narratives demonstrating a variety of competencies. Then rehearse these stories until they come naturally. During the interview, you can decide which narratives to share based on the questions being asked. Yost used this strategy when interviewing for a highly competitive job for a senior human resources specialist position at Microsoft. "I put together PAR stories showing, for example, how I had worked effectively with executives, developed selection systems and dealt with a project that had fallen apart," he says. Yost got the job.

Improve your resume. Add those narratives to your resume, too. "Once you've done the hard work of wording these examples in a resume, you will have an easier time remembering these stories in an interview. It will become your personal brand and message," Fairlie says.

Rehearse. Find someone to role-play the interview with and practice answering expected questions, Fairlie says. Invite the mock interviewer to identify distracting habits, or even better, film yourself and watch the footage, McCarthy says. "Nonverbal communication is critical," she says. "By watching yourself, you may notice that you are fidgeting or not maintaining consistent eye contact, and it is easier to fix a bad habit if you are aware of it."

During the interview

Keep answers concise. "It's much more powerful to give a short, targeted one-minute answer than to ramble," says Yost. "Interviewers can ask questions if they are interested in hearing more details. Research has shown that candidates who speak confidently, with fewer pauses and a little fast are rated more positively by interviewers, so it's better to err on the side of the hare rather than the turtle when it comes to speech tempo during an interview (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009)

Ask questions. Interviewers often ask candidates if they have any questions—and it's critical that you do, Fairlie says. "Having good questions shows you have initiative, motivation and strategic thinking," he says. Ask about the reporting relationships and work flow of the organization, for example. Inquire about the management style of the person you will report to, and why the position is vacant. Not only will your questions help impress the interviewers, the answers will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you.

Focus on the organization. Talk about how you will add to the organization rather than what you will gain from the job, Yost says. Don't ask interviewers how and when you can expect a raise or promotion, Fairlie says. "It can come across as something that is entitled rather than earned," he says.

Nonverbal cues matter. Arrive a little early, dress appropriately, be polite to everybody, smile and make eye contact. Research also shows that a weak or firm handshake can make the difference between getting a second interview or not, Manroop says. A firm handshake shows resilience, strength and confidence, he says (Journal of Applied ­Psychology, 2008).

Be observant. Get a sense of the organization by noticing the environment and interactions between people during the interview, says Lisa Dragoni, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Business at Wake Forest University. When she interviewed for her current job, she was impressed by the large community space at the school's entrance. "I asked how often it was used," she says. "I learned that faculty, staff and students used the area frequently for meetings and informal gatherings. The school had designed the room and office spaces to foster collaboration. Knowing that was part of my decision."

Stay engaged. It's important to show consistent energy throughout the meetings, Dragoni says. "I've sat on a number of selection committees, and I've been surprised how often faculty will say that candidates didn't seem very interested. I wondered if this was because the applicants were tired at the end of the day."

After the interview

Send a thank-you note. Ask for each interviewer's business card, and send each of them a tailored letter, either handwritten or via email, says Yost. "Don't send a generic note," he says. "Mention something specific that you are excited about doing in the role and how you can contribute," he says. "Even if you don't get an offer, this will help employers remember you when the next job opens up."

Be ready to negotiate your salary. Gather information about the salary range for the job—websites like APA's Center for Workforce Studies are good places to start. "The first person to name a figure loses, as the old adage goes," Fairlie says. It's ideal to ask the employer to give a salary range to start the negotiation process, but if candidates are asked first, "the best way to respond is to ask for more information about the job, showing you understand the link between job responsibilities and compensation," he says. Once the employer makes an offer, feel free to ask for time to think about it.

Follow up. If you don't get an offer, call an interviewer after a few weeks to ask for feedback about why you didn't get the job, Dragoni says. "If you ask people for input, they are usually open to having a conversation," she says. "Ask what the basis for the decision was, what you could have done differently or better, and then thank them for their suggestions."

Stay connected. Invite the interviewers to connect with you on LinkedIn because these contacts may become important for networking in the future.

By Heather Stringer

Did you find this article useful?

4 1
25 Apr 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Mediator Dr. David Gage

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have considered. Mediator Dr. David Gage, PhD, uses his psychology expertise to prevent and resolve conflicts between business partners and family business co-owners. In this webinar, Dr. Gage discusses his experience as a mediator and as a founder of his own company, BMC Associates. Learn how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career path.

David GageSpeaker:

Dr. David Gage is the founder of BMC Associates, a multidisciplinary team of mediators with backgrounds in business consulting, law, finance and psychology that specializes in preventing and resolving conflicts in a niche population: business partners and family business co-owners. Dr. Gage says his interest in business, and his psychological training in couples, groups and family systems, prepared him to be part of a team approach with this undeserved population.


Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

This webinar series is based on, and borrows its name, How Did You Get That Job?, from the popular column in APA’s monthly member-magazine, The Monitor on Psychology.

Did you find this webinar useful?

2 0
21 Apr 2017

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

Advice from the experts on how to make any presentation sing

Psychologists and graduate students are often called upon to speak to an audience, whether to give a conference presentation, deliver a lecture to a class, lead a meeting or give a talk in the community. But public speaking is a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, and there are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as seeming disorganized or looking down at notes rather than at your audience.

Regardless of how practiced you may be at public speaking, there are some very effective strategies to use to deliver engaging talks. The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TED Talk presenter:

1. Know your audience.
Keep in mind whom you are going to be addressing when you craft your presentation, says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a former APA president who is a professor of human development at Cornell University. Is the audience going to be mainly fellow psychologists, health professionals, other professional groups, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? Knowing whom you are speaking to will help you tailor the talk and will help keep the audience engaged.

2. Keep it simple, especially if you're going to give a talk to a general audience.
"People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn't understand," says Barry Schwartz, PhD, a psychology professor emeritus at Swarthmore College and a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He suggests giving a talk that makes people feel like they're smart and like they want to learn more about the topic. "The curse of knowledge is that once you know something, you forget what it was like when you didn't know it," he says. "I imagine that I'm going to present to my grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education."

3. Emphasize connection over content.
To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content, says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of the 2011 book "The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others." Rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn't effective if they aren't interested in what you are saying. "Be clear about what you want the audience to walk away with when they leave and use that intent as a structure to frame your talk," says Hedges. Your passion for a topic can draw people in; talking without any enthusiasm for the topic can deplete energy in the room and eclipse your message. "Talk to persuade, not just to inform," adds Sternberg.

4. Be authentic.
Some speakers may try to sound like someone they admire instead of being themselves, notes Daniel Gilbert, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University. "Some people try to sing like their favorite singer or dance like their favorite dancer," says Gilbert. "Similarly, some speakers may try to sound like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy." Authenticity—sounding like yourself and using everyday language—is key to getting your message across to an audience, says Gilbert.

5. Diversify your delivery.
People don't learn just by listening—different people learn in different ways, says Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, APA's 2016 president. Use visual tools (such as slides or a video), incorporate research and tell stories. Anecdotes can be a particularly effective way to connect with an audience. "It could be a story about yourself, especially if you're using humor and making fun of yourself," says McDaniel. One important tip to keep in mind about multimedia presentations: Don't let the technology obscure what you're trying to say, says Schwartz. "PowerPoint is incredibly powerful, but use it to get halfway there, rather than expecting it to do the whole job for you," he says.

6. Shake it up.
Another reason to use different media in your talk is to make it more dynamic and compelling. "Using mixed media creates energy and vibrancy," says Hedges. Think about ways to use slides, video, audio, handouts, props and even spontaneous smartphone polls to engage your audience. You might, for instance, start with a video and then use powerful images later in your talk, says Hedges. Or you can begin with an engrossing question and use the audience feedback as data with polling software such as Poll Everywhere.

7. Stick to your points.
Before you talk, determine your main points and outline them, says McDaniel. Some people refer to notes on stage while others may use PowerPoint or Keynote slides as prompts. One cautionary tip: Avoid simply putting the text of your speech in slides. "Writing out the words you'll be saying on slides is boring," says McDaniel. "Slides should be used for emphasis."

8. Know the setup.
Have a run-through in the space you'll be speaking at if possible, especially if you'll be talking in front of a large audience. Test the tech system during that practice run to troubleshoot possible problems in advance. For instance, the sound may not run properly with your video or your slides may be set up behind you (which would mean you'll have to constantly turn your head to see where you are in your talk).

9. Don't lecture the whole time.
Keep in mind that people don't have long attention spans. If you need to explore a topic deeply, use humor, an engaging video or other media to present various aspects of the topic. You can also break up a long talk by posing questions to the audience, suggests Hedges.

10. Leave time for questions.
Talking until the last minute is a common mistake many speakers make, says Hedges. If you have an hourlong presentation, plan for 45 minutes of talking and 15 minutes for questions.

A Ted Talk on Ted Talks: To watch a video on how to give a great talk, go to www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_teds_secret_to_great_public_speaking.

By Katherine Lee

Did you find this article useful?

5 0
21 Apr 2017

Finding Your Dream Psychology Career

Finding Your Dream Psychology Career

Don’t want to go into practice, research or teaching? Here’s how to find a nontraditional career that uses your expertise and sparks your interest.

Many psychologists find their passions are not stirred by providing direct therapy, conducting research or teaching. They are more interested in applying their expertise on human behavior in new and atypical ways—but aren't always sure what those career paths look like.

Looking to find your own unique career path in psychology? Here's advice from career experts and psychologists who work outside academia on how to do it.

Look inward

Before you start exploring career possibilities, figure out your internal motivations and passions.

"People tend to focus on knowing what's out there and don't pay too much attention to knowing themselves," says Jennifer Polk, PhD, career coach and owner of the website From PhD to Life, which provides job advice, coaching and mentoring to doctorate holders seeking nonacademic jobs. She works with job seekers to delve into their broader interests and explore which career opportunities might be a better fit for them.

Getting comfortable with the thought of a nontraditional career requires job seekers to be honest with themselves about what they really want and why it's important to them, says Paula Chambers, PhD, founder and CEO of The Versatile PhD, a career education website that helps grad students and new doctorate-holders identify and prepare for nonacademic careers.

She recommends asking yourself questions such as:

  • What do you love about psychology?
  • What's missing?
  • What weird passions do you have that have nothing to do with your work, but you never run out of energy for?

These types of assessments can help you realize that the No. 1 person you need to please with your career is yourself, she says.

To conduct such a selfassessment, check out APA's free online resource aimed at helping job seekers develop a plan of action for pursuing their ideal jobs. Authoring your Individual Individual Development Plan starts with a self-assessment, and the tool helps users explore careers, identify gaps in experience, set goals, and create a plan with milestones and outcomes.


Get to know people in business and industry who can give you an inside perspective on different career paths. One way to network is to attend nonacademic conferences in the specific fields you might be interested in, such as social work, advocacy, criminal justice, military, transportation, modeling and simulation, training, engineering, energy and more. "Market yourself to people in industry," says Brandon Perelman, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in the Human Research and Engineering Directorate. "Communicate why your research and skills are important to them," he says.

Also, search for people who have a job you might like and contact them. "Don't be afraid to reach out to complete strangers, like someone you found on LinkedIn," says Chambers. "Ask if they would be able to talk to you for 20 minutes on the phone about their work." Such informational interviews can provide inside information about various careers and help establish new connections.

Identify your skills

As you start exploring alternative career paths, think carefully about the skills you already have. If you've coordinated a large research effort like your dissertation, you have project management experience. Conveying your ideas during presentations and discussions has honed your communication skills. By working in a lab, you've developed teamwork skills. Once you start examining the components of what you do on a daily basis, you can determine how to apply those skills to nonacademic jobs.

Test the waters

If you lack some qualifications for the type of job you ultimately want, work to develop those skills, says Chambers. Students can get involved in activities on campus and those already in the workforce can look for opportunities to bolster their resumes, such as writing grant proposals, learning about budgets and financial management, or developing and leading a project. Also, consider taking classes relevant to the jobs you want, such as business, grant writing or marketing.

Volunteer work can also help you learn a new skill.

Internships and fellowships also provide the hands-on experiences psychologists need to prepare for their dream jobs. Most federal and local government agencies have internship programs. For instance, you might find internships in health policy and advocacy, criminal justice or education program evaluation, and human rights advancement around the world.

Many private companies also offer internships where you can learn about for-profit research, government contracting, business development and customer relations. Companies don't always have formal internship programs, but many will hire an intern for the summer or during busy times. "I started doing a summer internship at a private government contractor and discovered I liked it a lot," says Perelman. The experiences and connections he made during his internship helped him land his current position.

Apply for the job

So, once you've identified the job you want, how do you get hired? "Talk about your experience and skills in ways that are friendly to the industry and the organizational culture where you intend to work," says Eddy Ameen, PhD, who directs APA's Office on Early Career Psychologists.

Also, be sure to read job ads carefully to address all the requirements. For example, don't submit an academic CV when the ad asks for a resume. Prepare a resume that is shorter and more focused than your CV. Instead of talking about yourself, shift to what an employer needs and speak directly to their requirements.

For more advice on creating a resume from a CV, see the Jan. 2016 gradPSYCH article "Make Your Resume Stand Out."

Land the job

During the job interview, "your answers must be focused on the company first and yourself second," says Chambers. "Research the company extensively so you can speak intelligently about the specifics of the business."

And, employers want to know your answer to a key question: What can you do for me right now that will benefit my organization? Show them that you are the person who will meet their needs by articulating the value a psychology degree brings to any field.

Above all else, be confident. "You need to be able to sell yourself," says Shari Schwartz, PhD, who works as a mitigation expert and trial consultant at the firm she launched called Panther Advocacy and Litigation Sciences. "You've attained a doctoral-level education so there is nothing to be intimidated about. Go in there and make sure they understand you have something to offer and you'll be an asset."

By Laura Zimmerman, PhD

Did you find this article useful?

0 0
21 Apr 2017

Take Charge! Advice From Leaders to Early Career Psychologists

Take Charge! Advice From Leaders to Early Career Psychologists
When Jerrold Yeo moved from Singapore to the United States to start graduate school in clinical psychology, he was surprised to find that there were lots of leadership opportunities for students at APA, such as serving on boards and committees and advocating on behalf of psychology on Capitol Hill.

"In my own country, there were a lot of barriers to getting student voices heard and implementing changes," says Yeo, now a fifth-year graduate student at the University of Denver. "I wanted to make use of the freedom to be heard in this country."

Yeo initially assumed his chances of being selected for a leadership role were slim because he had little experience, but he applied anyway. He was delighted when he was chosen to be a member of the Convention Committee for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS), a position he held from 2013 to 2015. As he made connections within the organization, he started getting invitations for other leadership positions, such as serving as an APAGS representative to the Global Approaches to Integrated Health Care Summit, where he met psychology leaders from China, England, Norway and the United States. Now as a member-at-large with a practice focus on the APAGS Committee, Yeo is one of nine elected officers who advocate for graduate students and discuss new policies within APA.

The experience has been invaluable for his career growth, he says. "These leadership roles have taught me to be more confident, to be a better speaker and to negotiate," Yeo says. "It's a great way to find your own voice and learn what it's like to be a leader."

Yeo's advice to others who are considering leadership is to start by trying. "If you don't try, you'll never know where you might be successful," he says. "And don't let rejection discourage you." Yeo was rejected from multiple positions throughout his journey, and initially he took these experiences personally. "But now I understand that it's not about whether I'm good enough or have a flaw in my character. If I'm not the best person at that moment, there is probably another position for me that is a better fit."

The Monitor asked psychologists involved in leadership to share tips about how graduate students and early career psychologists can break into these roles. Here are their suggestions.

Determine what excites you. Look for leadership opportunities in an area that deeply interests you, says Sandra Shullman, PhD, a managing partner of the Executive Development Group, an international leadership development and consulting firm. "Effective leadership involves having a passion for what you are doing," she says. "You will meet like-minded souls you can learn from, and some of those people may become role models." Pursuing leadership in an area of interest can also help leaders grow during stressful times. For example, she's seen newer leaders struggle when they make decisions that displease certain people. They learn how to find the courage to do something, even if it's unpopular, and "they are more likely to do that in an area they have passion for."

Start small. Look for leadership opportunities at state and regional psychology associations, says Daniel Reimer, PhD, who recently earned a doctoral degree in behavioral psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. He started learning how to organize conventions by joining a committee with the Nevada Psychological Association. That experience helped him land a two-year position as chair of the APAGS Convention Committee in 2013. Another entry point could be serving as a student representative for an APA division, a state, provincial and territorial psychological association or the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team, a network of graduate students who engage in legislative advocacy and awareness, he says. For those who enjoy working on projects, serving on a task force or special project within an organization is another way to get experience and to observe how others lead, says Shullman, who is also a member of the APA Board of Directors.

Do it well. Once you get a volunteer leadership position, follow through on everything you are asked to do, says Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, a former APA president and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. "You get a reputation quickly as someone who follows through or not," she says. She served in leadership roles on various APA committees earlier in her career and was always careful not to take on more tasks than she could do well.

Find leadership mentors. Kaslow encourages psychologists to find mentors who can provide guidance, feedback and connections. Potential mentors may surface in a variety of places, such as psychology departments, postdoctoral programs, state psychology associations and APA divisions and committees. She's also seen the benefits of peer mentoring. Kaslow and her colleagues recently surveyed graduate students and early career psychologists who had served as chair of APAGS or of APA's Committee on Early Career Psychologists during the last seven years and found that a combination of peer and senior mentoring seems to be "the ideal plan" because they have different strengths. A senior mentor can help mentees understand an organization's system, introduce them to people and share past experiences. But a peer can say, "I just tried doing something similar, and here is how it went," Kaslow says.

Find areas of need. Keith Micoli, PhD, was a postdoctoral fellow when he started feeling isolated because he wasn't part of a cohort or department like the graduate students at his school. After talking to other fellows, he quickly discovered he wasn't alone. To solve this problem, Micoli decided to launch a postdoctoral association at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When he approached the university with the idea, he shared how a group for postdocs would benefit the institution by increasing postdoc satisfaction. "If you want to solve a problem, you'll increase your chances of support if you go beyond your personal need and consider the value to the institution," Micoli says. This experience led to connections on a national level, and now he's the director of postdoctoral affairs at the NYU School of Medicine.

Say yes. Melanie Lantz, PhD, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at Louisiana Tech University, wasn't looking for leadership opportunities during her first year of graduate school. But then several professors started encouraging students to apply for the Student Affiliates of Seventeen, or SAS, an organization for students associated with APA's Div. 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) and Lantz applied. She ended up co-chairing SAS, which included serving on the Div. 17 executive board. Through the experience, she learned about APA's governance structure and the professional issues in the field. Now she's chair-elect of Div. 17's Early Career Professionals Committee and chair of the division's Hospitality Space Committee for the next convention. "If someone hadn't tapped me to apply for a leadership role when I was a new graduate student, I probably wouldn't have gotten involved," Lantz says. "If you are tapped to lead or serve, take those opportunities."

Attend conferences. Conferences and conventions are critical for networking, psychology leaders say. "Introduce yourself and get yourself out there," Yeo says. "When I attended conventions and division conferences, I met people who encouraged me to apply to certain leadership positions that were open." It's also important to develop and practice a 30-second elevator speech to introduce yourself to new people, says Helen L. Coons, PhD, president and clinical director of Health Psychology Solutions in Colorado and a member of APA's Board of Directors. Although the speech will vary depending on the audience, in general it's effective to share your name, your specialty and your interest in learning more about leadership opportunities, she says.

Seek out training. Look for leadership training programs offered by APA, state psychology associations and other organizations. Div. 17, for example, offers the Society of Counseling Psychology Leadership Academy for students and early career psychologists. When Kaslow started getting involved in leadership, she knew she needed to develop a new set of competencies, which prompted her to apply for leadership training programs offered by her university, the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program. She also secured fellowships through organizations like the U.S. Public Health Service to learn about public policy and other aspects of leadership.

Ask for feedback. While securing a leadership position is valuable, you can make the most if it by gathering input along the way, Shullman says. After leading a meeting, check in with a colleague to learn what went well and what could be improved. "Let people know that if something is bothering them, you would like to hear from them," she says. "Create an environment that invites feedback so you can gauge how you're doing and make midcourse corrections," Shullman says.

By Heather Stringer

Did you find this article useful?

1 0
20 Mar 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Legal Consultant Dr. Christina Studebaker

The knowledge, skills, and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you might not have considered. Litigation Consultant Christina Studebaker, PhD, uses her psychology expertise to help evaluate cases and develop trial strategy by conducting small group jury research studies in which 30 to 50 people participate in a mock trial or focus group study. In this webinar, Dr. Studebaker discusses her career path and how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career.


Dr. Christina Studebaker, PhD, is Vice-President of ThemeVision LLC, a consulting firm that provides trial consulting, graphic design, and opinion research services. Studebaker has over a decade’s worth of experience with juror and jury decision making as a trial consultant. Prior to joining ThemeVision, Dr. Studebaker spent three years at the Federal Judicial Center, conducting empirical research on the judicial system. She also served as a professor of psychology for several years, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. Most recently, she served as the Associate Program Director in Forensic Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Studebacker has authored articles published in Law & Human Behavior on topics such as pretrial publicity, damage awards, expert testimony, and juror decision making.


Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

This webinar series is based on, and borrows its name, How Did You Get That Job?, from the popular column in APA’s monthly member-magazine, The Monitor on Psychology.  You can read Dr. Studebaker's interview from the June 2016 issue here. The magazine is a benefit of membership with APA.

Did you find this webinar useful?

4 0
08 Mar 2017

Fellowship Opportunities at APA and Beyond

Fellowship Opportunities at APA and Beyond

Fellowships provide funding, support research, and enable researchers to study at desirable places while gaining great field experience. Fellowships are also hard to find. So, we’ve found some for you, listed below.

APA Congressional Program

  • Description: APA's Congressional Fellowship Program places fellows as staffers for a member of Congress or as Congressional Committee staffers for one year.
  • Why it’s great: This program provides psychologists with an invaluable public policy learning experience and an opportunity to contribute to the effective use of psychological knowledge in government. This program also broadens awareness about the value of psychologist-government collaboration within the federal government.

APA Executive Branch Science Fellowship Program

  • Description: The APA Executive Branch Science Fellowship Program places a psychological scientist in a federal executive branch agency with a science-related mission for one year.
  • Why it’s great: The fellowship offers placement in esteemed national agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, and provides additional learning opportunities through a science and public policy seminar series administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and APA.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS) Fellowship

  • Description: With grant support of $793,978 per year from SAMHSA, this fellowship is offered by APA’s Minority Fellowship Program, and provides financial support, mentoring, and professional development for 24 doctoral fellows and one postdoctoral fellow per year.
  • Why it’s great: The MHSAS Fellowship is designed to support the training of future practitioners in behavioral health services and prevention, and provides potential leaders with specialized experience in providing direct services or developing policy for ethnic and racial minority communities.

APA Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY) Fellowship

  • Description: The STAY Fellowship receives grant support of $532,000 per year from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) for funding, mentoring, and professional development of up to 40 fellows at the master’s level per year.
  • Why it’s great: The STAY Fellowship is uniquely designed for students in terminal master’s programs in psychology whose training prepares them to provide mental health services to transition age youth (ages 16 through 25) and their families.

Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship

  • Description: Sponsored by the American Psychological Foundation (APF), the fellowship awards $25,000 for graduate students in child psychology.
  • Why it’s great: Not only does the fellowship provide development opportunities for students who are in the process of shaping their careers in various areas of psychology, but it also provides support for scholarly work that contributes to the advancement of psychology.

Summer Science Fellowship

  • Description: The APA Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience Grants program offers up to five grants to college and university departments to support undergraduate research assistantships in psychology laboratories for six to eight weeks during the summer to provide undergraduate students with research experiences.
  • Why it’s great: This fellowship is uniquely designed to provide undergraduate students who have little or no prior laboratory experience with the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of how scientific research is conducted.

While students themselves are not able to apply directly for an opportunity grant, APA makes it very easy to forward the grant announcement to teachers or department chairs and request that their school participates. APA provides funds to pay each student at the institution’s current rate of pay for undergraduate research assistants.

APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship

  • Description: The Junior Scientist Fellowship provides support for students in the early stages of a research-oriented graduate program with funding for a research project so they can gain research experience.
  • Why it’s great: In addition to providing research experience, the fellowship also serves to increase recipients’ chances of securing a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship in the future.

Here are a few fellowships that are offered outside of APA that might be of interest as well:

APA-IUPSYS Global Mental Health Fellowship

  • Description: The APA-IUPsyS Global Mental Health Fellowship enables psychologists to contribute to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, for one year. Fellows focus on issues related to the WHO Mental Health Action Plan following an orientation period at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
  • Why it’s great: The fellowship provides a unique opportunity for a psychologist to contribute to WHO’s work and be involved with international mental health policy and implementation.

The Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality and Health

  • Description: The predoctoral fellowship, funded by a training grant award from the National Institute of Child Health and Development, Population Dynamics Branch, offers PhD applicants who are planning on entering doctoral training programs in the fall substantial funding, guaranteed for up to five years.
  • Why it’s great: The predoctoral fellowship is the nation’s first multidisciplinary doctoral training program in gender, sexuality, and health, and is designed to prepare students for research and teaching careers focusing on the role of gender and sexuality in shaping reproductive and sexual health, both nationally and globally.

Jacquelin Goldman Congressional Fellowship

  • Description: The fellowship offers up to $90,000 to developmental and clinical psychologists with existing experience working with children for the enhancement and promotion of psychologist-government interaction among psychologists and within the federal government.
  • Why it’s great: Fellows with an interest in public policy related to the psychological development of children will gain an unparalleled learning experience, attending a two-week orientation program on congressional and executive branch operations and participating in a yearlong seminar series on science and public policy issues.

Here are some other policy-related fellowships to consider:

James Marshall Public Policy Fellowship (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI)

  • Description: This postdoctoral congressional fellowship provides the opportunity to apply psychological research to the analysis of social and science policy. Fellows enjoy access to a range of AAAS Fellowship professional development opportunities and support throughout the fellowship year and beyond.
  • Why it’s great: Knowledge of policy processes at the national level is “desirable” but not required, which means candidates who are interested in policy but don’t have a lot of experience in the policy field still have a chance.

The Dalmas Taylor Memorial Summer Minority Policy Fellowship

  • Description: The fellowship, jointly hosted by APA, provides graduate students of color with an opportunity to work on public policy issues for two to three months each summer in Washington, D.C.
  • Why it’s great: This fellowship is perfect for grad students who have committed to a career with a focus on ethnic minority issues.

Special Note: All applicants for the Dalmas Taylor Fellowship are strongly encouraged to apply for the APA Minority Fellowship Program Summer Institute.  Preference will be given to applicants who apply to both!

Society for Research in Child Development Policy Fellowships

  • Description: The SRCD offers both congressional and executive branch fellowships for postdoctoral scholars from a variety of disciplines who demonstrate exceptional competence in an area of child development research.
  • Why it’s great: Fellows are offered access to staff members of the SRCD Office for Policy and Communications in Washington to be used as a resource throughout the year. Following the fellowship, fellows move on to a wide variety of careers in academia, public policy, or research.

Capitol City Fellowship Program

  • Description: Graduates of master’s degree programs are placed in city agencies to participate in public policy making at the local level, and are given the opportunity to meet with city officials during the fellowship.
  • Why it’s great: The program simultaneously prepares fellows for government public service at the local level, and develops their management abilities.

Leaders for Health Equity

  • Description: This is a new fellowship program for early career health-care professionals offered by The George Washington University and funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies, with a focus on health disparities, designed to develop leaders in the advancement of health equity.
  • Why it’s great: The fellowship combines traditional in-person and online learning, and helps students build comprehensive knowledge of national and global health disparities.

Public Health Fellowship in Government

  • Description: Offered by the American Public Health Association, this fellowship offers placement in the House or Senate, and fellows are given the opportunity to work on legislative and policy issues such as creating healthy communities; improving health equity; and addressing environmental health concerns, population health or the social determinants of health.
  • Why it’s great: Fellows receive the opportunity to enhance public health science and practical knowledge in government.

Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellows Program

  • Description: This fellowship offers mid-career health professionals and behavioral and social scientists who are interested in federal health policy with an opportunity to work directly with health policy leaders.
  • Why it’s great: More than 250 RWJF fellows have participated in the policy process at the federal level and have applied that leadership experience to the improvement of the health-care system, public health and health policy.

White House Fellowship Program

  • Description: This fellowship provides early career professionals who hold a record of achievement and leadership with the opportunity to work with White House career staff and with Cabinet members. White House fellows typically spend a year as full-time, paid assistants to senior White House staff, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials.
  • Why it’s great: The mission of the program is for fellows to return to their former or new occupations more experienced in public policy decision-making and better prepared to contribute to national affairs.

Did you find this post useful?

2 0
01 Mar 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with FAA Manager Dr. Paul Eckert

The knowledge, skills, and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have previously considered. As Manager of Strategic Planning for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Dr. Paul Eckert, PhD, uses his psychology expertise to lead goal development and performance measurement for the world’s largest aviation safety and air traffic control organization. In this webinar, Dr. Eckert shares his experience about his career path and how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career.

Dr. Paul Eckert is Manager of Strategic Planning for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), within the Office of Policy, International Affairs, and Environment. He plays a key role in maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of commercial aviation and space transportation. Eckert has also worked at NASA, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Boeing Company’s space exploration division. He is a former APA Congressional Fellow who worked in the office of Sen. John Breaux (D-La.).

Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

This webinar series is based on, and borrows its name, How Did You Get That Job?, from the popular column in APA’s monthly member-magazine, The Monitor on Psychology. 

Did you find this webinar useful?

4 0