Your Undergraduate Degree in Psychology: From College to Career
Publication Year: 2014
Subject: Study Skills for Psychology
Innovative strategies for psychology majors to survive and thrive in the workforce
Nearly 100,000 students graduate each year with a bachelor's degree in psychology, and a majority of these students will enter the workforce instead of pursuing a graduate degree. Many will find themselves tentatively deciding their next steps amid a complex and changing economic and job environment.
In this text, authors and professors Paul I. Hettich and R. Eric Landrum provide innovative strategies and tools for succeeding after college with an undergraduate degree in psychology. Drawing on current research data, applied theory, and both academic and workplace experiences, they help stimulate self-reflection and improve decision making as students approach their careers. The text covers key topics in the college-to-career transition, including career planning and development, identifying ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Part I: Get Ready for Your Transition to the Workplace
- Chapter 1: Meet the New Workplace Realities (and Your Paperback Mentors)
- Chapter 2: Yes! You Can Succeed in Life with a Bachelor's Degree
- Chapter 3: Make the Most of Your Opportunities—Now!
Part II: Know Thyself—Better!
- Chapter 4: What Is the Secret of Excellent Career Planning?
- Chapter 5: Your Journey Through Psychosocial Development Continues Long After Graduation
- Chapter 6: Know the Skills You Need to Succeed (Course Content Is No Longer the Focus)
- Chapter 7: Jump-Start Your Job Search
Part III: Onboarding to Work
- Chapter 8: Why Are Attitudes, Motivation, and Work Centrality Important?
- Chapter 9: Your First Real Job? It's Primarily About Communicating
- Chapter 10: Avoid False Expectations: Onboarding and Your First 90 Days
Part IV: I Graduated and Got a Job: What's Next?
To my parents, who taught me that work is good—that work, however menial or elevating, teaches.
Dedicated to psychology majors everywhere, working to make a positive difference in the world.
Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hettich, Paul I.
Your undergraduate degree in psychology: from college to career / Paul I. Hettich, DePaul University, R. Eric Landrum, Boise State University.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4129-9931-1 (pbk.: alk. paper)
1. Psychology—Vocational guidance. I. Landrum, R. Eric. II. Title.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
13 14 15 16 17 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquisitions Editor: Reid Hester
Editorial Assistant: Sarita Sarak
Production Editor: Laureen Gleason
Copy Editor: Megan Granger
Typesetter: Hurix Systems Pvt. Ltd.
Proofreader: Jen Grubba
Indexer: Karen Wiley
Cover Designer: Glenn Vogel
Marketing Manager: Lisa Brown
Permissions Editor: Karen Ehrmann
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.—Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
Excerpted from the opening lines of Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, these words ring true for many college students today. Arguably, the need for, promises of, and access to higher education have never been greater than in the second decade of the 21st century. In this respect, it is the best of times to be a college student. Yet the challenges students encounter while forging their college education into a satisfying career are daunting. Many students may face three crises as they graduate. The first is overwhelming loan debt, with repayment typically beginning 6 months after they leave college whether or not they are employed. The second crisis is unemployment or underemployment in an unstable national and global economy where countless jobs continue to be outsourced, replaced by technology, or simply terminated. The third crisis, nurtured in part by the first two, is that of (returning to Dickens) great expectations. Students are conditioned from elementary school to believe that a college degree will place them on a fast track to personal success in a secure and satisfying career. Yet competition for the best postgraduate opportunities continues to be fierce: In 2009–2010, there were 97,216 recipients of a bachelor's degree in psychology in a total graduating class of 1.65 million baccalaureate recipients (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). So these may also be the worst of times for college students and, for some, times filled with despair or frustration but little hope.
[Page viii]Teachers are concerned about the world their baccalaureate graduates must enter. Psychology educators are passionate about dispersing psychological science, but they may not be experts in the current job market or in how to help psychology students choose and succeed in a career. For example, to what extent are their students aware of the clashing cultures of corporate and college organizations and of the particular skills and behaviors they need to succeed? Do students know how to market themselves effectively amidst the competition and subsequently adapt to the workplace once they are hired?
Our goal in writing Your Undergraduate Degree in Psychology is to help students enter the workforce during and after college cognizant of the issues and prepared for the challenges they will encounter. We strongly believe that teachers can be highly influential partners in this goal. There are no quick and easy solutions to these issues and challenges, but we introduce them for serious discussion and share ideas, insights, and recommendations we believe will help build competence and confidence for a student's journey after college. The salient features of this book include the following.
Many “careers in psychology” books focus primarily on occupations requiring baccalaureate or graduate degrees and the skills students should learn. We approach the college-to-career transition for what it truly is—a diverse and interactive combination of dynamic intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental career-shaping experiences. Specifically, we encourage students to engage in systematic self-assessment; exploit campus opportunities that enhance self-reflection and career development; establish transferable skills employers seek; heighten awareness of their continuing journey through psychosocial development; master job-search skills; recognize the critical roles that organizational culture, communications, motivation, and self-management occupy in entry-level job success; and prepare for changing relationships and further life/career transitions. We know of no other resource in psychology that examines these dimensions to the extent we do.
Our focus is on individuals who enter the labor market immediately after graduation, including students who delay entry to graduate or professional school for 1 or more years to gain experience, earn money, and solidify goals. So welcome also, you graduate-school–bound students!
Your Undergraduate Degree in Psychology may be read as part of a course, such as Careers in Psychology, Orientation to the Psychology Major, or Introduction to the Psychology Major. It is also intended as supplementary reading for internship and capstone courses. Even if this book is not part of a specific course, the key is for students to critically examine the information it reveals and act on the recommendations we present. Ultimately, students need to know the answers to the questions, “How can I be best prepared to stand out from other new graduates entering the world of work?” and “How can I succeed in my first jobs?” Those are the types of questions we can help with!
To accomplish our goal of helping students prepare for work and career, we provide a forum in which students and teachers interact with one another and with us—as “paperback mentors” of sorts—as we explore the crucial issues that influence successful entry into contemporary workplaces. Having engaging interaction [Page ix]with a book and its ideas is a challenge, but it can be done. We designed this book to help students actively think about the world of work and career choices; frequent and meaningful self-reflection can lead to a strategic plan to help students pursue their life goals. The features we embedded in this book to facilitate self-reflection include “Time Out” sections inserted periodically in our narrative: “Time Out: Reflective Questions” and “Time Out: Exercise.” At the end of each chapter are “Getting Involved” activities that include “Journal Starters” and diverse and often research-oriented projects that teachers may want to assign as is or modify to fit their specific goals. The “Additional Resources” component of each chapter enables students to dig further into a particular topic by consulting websites or other print sources. Each chapter ends, of course, with a list of the references we consulted for the topics we addressed.
College-to-workplace preparedness and transition is a major topic of growing importance in today's world of work, but it is not widely researched in psychology. Consequently, we invited colleagues with expertise exceeding our own in specific critical areas to guest-author chapters on career planning, job search, and post-college relationship changes. In addition, an important segment of our literature is drawn from outside of mainstream psychological research; this portion derives from surveys or reports of job-related issues originating from such organizations as the Collegiate Employment Research Institute and the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as well as from popular but reliable print and electronic sources. Finally, we illustrate several concepts using examples based on the experiences of former students and actual events.
No book project of this magnitude thrives without excellent advice. We are very grateful to many individuals who have been helpful and supportive throughout our journey. This has clearly been a team effort. In the editorial department at SAGE, Christine Cardone was our starting pitcher and Reid Hester came in as the closer. We are very thankful for Sarita Sarak, who kept us, in her firm but friendly manner, on track each step of the way and batted 1.000. Our team contains other valuable members. For the breadth and depth they shared on crucial topics, we thank our guest authors Camille Helkowski, John Jameson, and Abby (Wilner) Miller.
For their critical reviews of the manuscript and the invaluable insights and comments they shared, we are very grateful to William Addison, Eastern Illinois University; Ruth L. Ault, Davidson College; Bernard C. Beins, Ithaca College; Kristie Campana, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Phil Gardner, Michigan State University; Jane S. Halonen, University of West Florida; Meera Komarraju, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Beth M. Schwartz, Randolph College; Randolph A. Smith, Lamar University; and Annette Kujawski Taylor, University of San Diego.
Behind the scenes at SAGE were others who shared their expertise, including marketing manager Lisa Brown, permissions editor Karen Ehrmann, production editor Laureen Gleason, copy editor Megan Granger (our extra special thanks!), and cover designer Glenn Vogel. In addition, we appreciate Jon Keil's critical reading of several chapters and his helpful suggestions, as well as the gracious assistance of the DePaul University Library staff. We thank Robert Shelton and [Page x]Nakware Howard for their helpful suggestions for Chapter 7 (“Jump-Start Your Job Search”).
To mix our metaphors, it takes a village to win a game, and we are thankful for every member of the team that made for our cumulative game-winning effort. And, last but not least, we as coauthors have grown in knowledge and wisdom from our mutual collaboration.ReferenceNational Center for Education Statistics. (2011). Digest of education statistics 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d11/tables/dt11_286.asp
About the Authors