October 31, 2014

Psychology Alumni Panel Offers Advice on Life after Emmanuel

Six psychology alumni from the Classes of 2007-2014 participated in a panel discussion on Wednesday, October 29th, in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall.

Six psychology alumni from the Classes of 2007-2014 participated in a panel discussion on Wednesday, October 29th, in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall. The event was sponsored by the members of Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society, and moderated by Associate Professor of Psychology and department chair Linda Lin.

Alumni came equipped with words of advice for undergraduate psychology majors-students who will find themselves searching for internships, graduate programs or jobs in the coming months.

Patrick Ryan '11, who recently finished his master's in neuroscience at Trinity College, Dublin, and currently works with the research-oriented crowdfunding startup Endeavorist, urged students to take advantage of research opportunities at Emmanuel.

"Psychology departments at other colleges have so many students that they don't have the chance for that one-on-one face time," Ryan said. "Form those good relationships and get those good references."

Development psychology major Jeff Joseph '07 echoed Ryan's statement.

"What you do now, while at Emmanuel, matters," he said. "Faculty and staff at Emmanuel will be your first references and can help you secure that first step in your career."

Joseph currently works at education-focused nonprofit City Year, Inc. as the national manager of extended learning time initiatives. He serves as the leader on all strategy and design efforts specific to college and career readiness, family engagement, grade-level transition and out-of-school learning in the United States. He holds a master's degree in organizational leadership with a focus on nonprofit management from Wheelock College.

A common theme among the panel was the importance of stepping outside of one's comfort zone, especially when it comes to networking.

Networking with potential employers was critical for Meaghan Mauer '14 and Jenna Vincent '14, who both landed full-time jobs in the organizations at which they interned - Mauer as a research assistant in the Gaab Lab for developmental cognitive neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital, and Vincent as a reentry specialist at Span, Inc., where she works with clients from branches of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution three months pre-release date and six months after release.

"If you enjoyed your internship, stay in contact with your supervisor," Vincent said.

"Even if their lab or company isn't hiring at the moment, they might be able to connect you to someone who is," Mauer added.

For students considering graduate school, Christina Wigglesworth '11 recommended getting organized early to keep from drowning in the high volume of reading most programs require.

"Emmanuel really prepared me for the subject matter, but I had to learn better time-management skills," said the recent MSW graduate of Boston College.

Wigglesworth is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in social work at the same institution and noted that she has a homework cutoff time of 6:00 p.m., preferring to wake up a little earlier in the morning in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

While many young graduates opt to continue their education immediately, Vincent encouraged students to consider other options as well. 

"If you're on the fence about a graduate program, try to get some experience in your field first," Vincent said. "If I had applied right out of Emmanuel, I probably would have applied to a program that wouldn't have suited me. It's an expensive and time-consuming commitment, so it helps if you have a clear idea of what you want."

Amanda Pirrotta '10, a 2012 MSW graduate from Simmons College and a licensed social worker at the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in Winthrop, Massachusetts, told students, "There is no syllabus for life - it's up to you to progress in your field and grow professionally. Be patient with yourself, you're going to make mistakes. You're committing to a field in which you're going to be a lifelong learner."

Mauer pushed students to be proactive and to have open conversations in order to generate ideas that could expand career options.

"Nobody is going to get you a job and nobody is going to get you into graduate school," she said. "The earlier you start, the easier the process is going to be and the more likely you are to be successful."

Joseph's advice to students was to keep their ultimate goals in mind and to think outside of the box as often as possible.

"And always maintain your character," he added. "Do what you say you are going to do. Be polite. These things go a long way."

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