Nearly four months ago I entered Seton Hall University registered as a B.S. in Psychology, with all intentions of pursuing a career in clinical or developmental psychology. It is now the end of the semester, and my personal career goals have been grounded by understanding. My previous perceptions of the field of psychology were hazed by stereotypes and misconceptions, which would have accounted for a great deal of complications down the road if it were not for this class, truly.
Initially, there was the realization that a B.S was not fitting for my personal math skills, or lack thereof. This in turn resulted in a trip to the register’s office. There was also the recognition that arose, when comparing my initial and final survey, that I was too poorly informed when entering the class to have felt “very positive” that I wanted to be a psychology major. It wasn’t clear to me the jobs I could attain B.A./B.S.-level psychology degree, course requirements for my degree, or even all the disciplines related to psychology; yet I was convinced whole-heartedly I wanted a psychology-related career.
All of the surveys and assignments throughout the course served me in gaining a better understanding of myself, and how my personality forms to fit different careers. This was pleasant to have a course that handed out worksheets with a purpose, rather than “busy work” or “grade boosters.” There was the realization that I am extremely organized, but terribly distractible. And beyond just pointing out a problem, the worksheets demanded a solution be constructed; which in that case, was seeing the long-term goals of any given situation and focusing on one task at a time. Also personally, I determined the factors of my time management I need to improve, how my behavior translates to other people, “kisses of death” to avoid in the interview process, alongside many other things. Professionally, I learned that I can integrate my personality types of an artistic, enterprising, and investigative nature into the career I pursue.
Most valuable out of all the take-home exercises for me proved to be the APA formatting assessment, and the locating of three prospective jobs with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. The APA format is a tool I am going to be expected to be familiar with from here on out, and I was pleased to have a chance for trial and error practice. It proved to be challenging to me, but with time comes progress. As for the locating of three prospective jobs, I was shocked to see what was truly available at a Bachelor’s level. There is such a vast difference from what one envisions themselves doing with a degree and then contrasting it with what is truly available. That assignment reassured my desire to pursue my education to graduate school, which was a decision I was relieved to make earlier rather than later. It equally gave me a realistic understanding of the qualities and qualifications employers seek out.
The expulsion of the many psychology related stereotypes was equally one of the most refreshing aspects of this course, for me personally. Upon entering the class I, like many, had the impression that psychology was almost entirely clinical work. My horizons opened widely in terms of interests and goals after reading the first two chapters of the Kuther book, and the classes that followed. It was the understanding that not only is psychology is an umbrella with of subfields underneath, but also an extensive amount of work areas than can be just as fitting to a psychology degree. I was pleasantly surprised to see careers such as advertising, interior design, and business management listed; because at one point these had all been considered majors.
Similarly, the fallacy that psychology majors cannot find jobs out of college was dismissed. The discernment was made that it is not the fault of the psychology degree if you do or don’t get hired, but rather how you present yourself. An employer is looking at the individual, and with the broad range of skill sets a liberal arts degree provides, it is upon the individual to sell themselves in a desirable fashion. I found it shocking, but in some senses reassuring, to see the results of studies projecting that employers value personal attributes over factors like GPA in almost all instances. I preferred the idea of being a person rather than a number. There is also a bias in this stereotype that lies in the amount of psychology majors who enter a “psychology-related field” verses those who are employed elsewhere.
Transformation was also found in smaller, but equally important, circumstances. At the start of the semester there was a feeling of being thrown into a foreign situation. I had made the assumption this was a natural feeling that rightfully accompanied the adjustments of freshman year. Soon it became clear I had the right to a complete understanding of my major’s requirements, and what my capabilities were once I gained this degree. I remember calling my mom, and her asking how my classes were going, and telling her, “The only class so far that has provided me with any useful information is my Orientation to the Psychology Major course, glad it was required because I wouldn’t have taken it on my own”, which stood true throughout the entire semester as new information was constantly rising. Overall, the idea that I had to just “figure it out” was renounced in exchange for an actual plan.
As a result of the career exploration activities, I have found a desire to pursue Industrial-Organizational psychology, as well as a love for Art Therapy. Beyond just the fragmented idea of these careers, I have the knowledge of the education and requirements necessary to reach these goals. Particularly when fulfilling the “Psychology-related Activity” of attending Psychology Club. The night I am referencing consisted of the Psych Club leaders each presenting a field of psychology, and explaining what an individual employed in that field does. I have briefly heard about art therapy previously, but hearing in detail the two branches of “art as therapy” and “art psychotherapy” brought new meaning and excitement to the field for me personally. Ideally, I would like to pursue my education to the PhD level, although with I/O psychology a Masters degree fills the requirement. In terms of pursuing Art Therapy, a doctorate level degree would be necessary.
Then as well, the tenth chapter of the Kuther book entitled, “Applying to Graduate School in Psychology” silenced many of my stresses and fears towards graduate school. The timeline in the book that begin at sophomore year, which at first intimidated me because of how early it starts, but eventually grew to comfort me when I reflected back upon the college application process. This realization was that I would much rather become slowing prepared for the application process as the years progressed, rather than submerging myself hectically into it all at once (as the college application process seemed to unfold). There was also exceptionally useful information both in the book and in class about what makes a graduate both respectable and a good fit for the individual.
In order to reach my goals I have rearranged my priorities. Gaining research experience has become a necessity, at the undergrad and graduate level alike. As well as the precedent of making respectable impressions upon my professors and advisors; not only for a betterment of the student-teacher relations, but also because the importance than lays in networking. This involves in and out-of-class behaviors, because the actions of an individual speak multitudes for making a mature and sustainable relationship successful. These opportunities relate back to research experience, psychology club, and activities of that essence.
Every major should have an orientation class molded to this format. The chance to learn in an unbiased atmosphere what the degree consists of, what those employed in the field do, what the degree requirements are, understanding how to become qualified to reach personal goals, and ultimately deciding whether or not to commit to that major has proven endlessly beneficial. Honestly, so thankful the Psychology department constructed this program. I have all intentions of sticking with the psychology major, and I can now say that with confidence