Get Up and Start Preparing for a Psychology Career

Some tips to help you start planning your career path.

What I am seeing over and over again are individuals (often students in their junior and senior years) totally unprepared for a psychology-related career. I am not talking about a person unsure about getting a Masters degree in Family Therapy versus Counseling Psychology. I am talking about those who have done little to nothing with regard to career planning. Of course, this is a major mistake that typically leads to a great deal of anxiety and frustration with each passing day.

What should these individuals be doing? Before anything, they need to get a better handle on the idea that career planning: (a) starts sooner versus later (e.g., immediately upon entering college); and (b) requires a lot of time and effort. In some ways career planning is a never-ending process until one really gets immersed in a career path (e.g., attends graduate school). It is unclear whether these individuals thought a career was going to be thrown into their laps.

Once a person gets a clue that career planning is a process that requires a lot of time and effort, they need to take heed of this blog post’s title—get off their butt and be an active participant in their career planning. There are people who can help with career planning, like professors and careers counselors, but the real nitty-gritty of career planning requires a person to move forward on their own. In my mind, one can be planful in their career-planning approach by navigating a series of steps. Keep in mind that these steps are not sequential, and overlap in certain ways. Here we go:

(1) Take Certain Courses

Whether you are taking formal courses on a college campus, or completing online courses, there are certain courses you should consider that go well beyond typical psychology courses (intro, research methods, stats), and that will group together based on your career direction. For example, someone focused on a career in mental health may select courses like personality, abnormal psychology and child psychopathology. However, someone with an interest in Law may select forensic psychology, psychology & law, and other law-related courses in other majors (e.g., political science, criminology). I should note that if you plan on going to graduate school or professional school the selection committees will also like to see that you took challenging courses (e.g., math and science courses).

[Read More]