The Class of 2015 recently crossed the podium to receive their degrees in venues that were filled with proud parents, amazing keynote speakers and scores of hopeful graduates. While many may have already secured jobs or slots in graduate schools, a fair number are unsure of their “next steps”. Many of those who are in limbo have completed coursework and earned a degree in Psychology. These alumni are able to converse about human behavior, statistics and learning theory, however, are sans prospects for employment. What to do once you have obtained a degree in Psychology and have no immediate plans for graduate school? To answer this question we first will need to ask a few more.
Examine the Big Why? Why did you study Psychology? What was your vision for the future when you first entered your freshman Psychology 101 class?
Many people enter the field of Psychology because they have an interest in what makes people “tick”. They are people watchers who can view groups or individuals at hours on end. Fascinated by a child’s play or perhaps arguments among couples, the student of psychological behavior enjoys being a voyeur of the human element.
Each person has what I like to call the Big Why. It is what inspires you. Your passion. What keeps you studying when you rather be out with friends.
My catalyst for becoming a Psychologist was when I read Virginia Axline’s book, DIBS, In Search of Self. This book about an Autistic child and play therapy piqued my interest regarding a single topic in a way that I had never experienced before. I delved in to the stacks of my hometown library to read everything I could find on the subjects of play therapy, autism and psychology. By the time I had exhausted all available resources I knew for certain what would be my career path. I had discovered my Big Why.
While many, like myself, enjoy interpersonal relationships and social engagement, there are those interested in the field of Psychology, but, prefer to keep their days within a laboratory setting. While not for me I have met many who are more enamored with psychology as a research science vs. a social science.
If you are interested in Psychology be sure to ask what is your Big Why? Do note that we all have the right to change our minds. Maybe studying Psychology wasn’t what you expected and now you need to modify your course and forge ahead by looking for your next vocation. Consider interning, finding a mentor or becoming a volunteer as you learn about other professions. In my opinion, it is great to pursue what you feel passionate about as long as it provides you with a stable income.
What is stopping you from going to graduate school and continuing in the field of Psychology?
Many people are just tired of studying. The thought of one more book, one more test, or one more term paper makes some want to scream. If you are a Psychology major and have lost interest in studying but the profession, then take some time off to recharge and rejuvenate. Consider becoming a “shadow” to several people who are employed as Psychologists (or in related fields). Sample the various occupations that utilize the skills you have learned and figure out what you need to acquire. Don’t let being tired now be the excuse that hinders you from a successful future.
If it is a financial concern, consider seeking counsel by college coaches who know about scholarships, grants and much more. Jodi Okun, founder and owner of College Financial Advisors conducts a weekly Twitter chat – #CollegeCash – that is chocked full of information for anyone seeking the 411 about resources on career, financing graduate school and overall college planning.
Have you thought out of the box?
Perhaps you can use your degree to work in a field that uses “people skills” but doesn’t need graduate school. Sales and marketing careers are dependent on good interpersonal skills, as is the travel and hospitality industries. Education also is a option and if traditional graduate programs in Psychology are not your “cup of tea” then consider becoming a School Psychologist. This is one field where there is more demand than supply, especially in larger states such as California.
Learn about School Psychology via NASP
The online gaming industry also uses people and analytic skills – both that are stressed in Psychology coursework. This industry is growing by leaps and bounds with many openings cropping up on job boards nationwide.
How to find a job in online gaming, travel, sales, etc? When seeking a job in Psychology be sure to first update your social media profiles (including securing your privacy settings on anything you don’t want a future employer to know about you.) Linkedin, Indeed and other career sites have a plethora of online job listings. I recommend to job seekers to splurge for the premium Linkedin membership during your job search. Uploading profiles on multiple sites widens the possibilities of being seen by potential employers. Don’t forget to highlight your talents. Speak a second language? Be sure to add that to your profile! A whiz in social media or computer programming? Add that, too!
Also don’t forget that there is a lot to be said about a career in the armed forces. While not a first choice for some, the military has proven to be an excellent career choice for many.
In closing, while studying Psychology has been thought to be a stepping stone to graduate school and a career as a Psychologist, it doesn’t have to be the only choice. With a little creative thinking and flexibility you will find an occupation that fulfills you. Good luck!