Words of Wisdom from Alumni

Name: Kristin Housholder
What year did you graduate? 2016
Major(s)/Minor(s) at Luther: Psychology and Music
What is your area of work? Occupational Therapy
What did you do after graduating from Luther? Currently, I am a student at the Medical University of South Carolina, studying occupational therapy.
What advice do you have about your field?

Application process: It is important to get a large amount and wide variety of clinical hours and experience working with an array of populations. Study for the GRE, and round yourself out with your application by being involved! 

Career: Occupational therapy is a field with an incredible amount of flexibility in schedule (part-time, full-time, PRN), setting (hospital, clinic, school, home health, research, legislative) and area of focus (pediatrics, orthopedics, neuro, hands, geriatrics, psych). 

Who: Individuals who thrive off of helping others, using creativity, and applying evidence based practice would love the field of occupational therapy!

What else do you think is important? Pay attention to what gets you most excited in life and follow that passion aggressively! In an area like OT with a wide amount of flexibility upon receiving your license, you truly can cater it to your own interests. Luther provides an education students can feel confident about when entering a graduate level program.
Name: Amy Christenson
What year did you graduate? 2008
Major(s)/Minor(s) at Luther: Psychology and Spanish
What is your area of work? Organizational Psychology
What did you do after graduating from Luther? I went straight to graduate school for an M.A. in human resources and industrial relations at the University of Minnesota after graduation.
What advice do you have about your field?

Having worked in the field for several years, here are a few books, blogs, and organizations that are good starting points where you can poke around and learn a little bit more about the industrial-organizational psychology.

http://www.neuroleadership.org/ — great free content about the intersections between current neuroscience and maximizing human potential at work

http://hbr.org/ — The creme de la creme of the business world....subscribe to their free daily alerts and read some of the articles about Managing Yourself, Managing Others, Organizational Change.

http://www.shrm.org/ — The most popular organization for HR professionals.  Good place to start to explore the field and also hosts an annual conference with a student rate that would be very interesting to attend.

http://www.siop.org/ - The professional association for I/O PhD psychologists.  Also hosts a great annual conference.




What else do you think is important?

I would also recommend any job shadowing and internship (even unpaid) experience you can get to start to learn the business world as it's a bit different than the academic environment, as well as, any coursework or certifications you can explore in personality assessment.

Another really great fit between business and psych is the Consumer Insights field of Marketing. I haven't actually worked in that space, but could connect you with someone who has. It's all about understanding what the customer wants via surveys, market data, consumer tests, and focus groups and translating that into product creation or changes that provide more value to customers. Definitely want to pay attention in your stats class if you're interested in that!

It would help me to better understand where you are, what you know, and what questions you have as you start to explore career options in these fields. Feel free to shoot me an email with a little more info about you and what you want to know.

Name: Carl Westphal
What year did you graduate? 2008
Major(s)/Minor(s) at Luther: Majors: Economics, Mathematics; Minors: Spanish, International Studies
What is your area of work? Government
What did you do after graduating from Luther? First, being interested in international development, I joined the Peace Corps and served in Mauritania. Then I "one-eightied" and worked at Best Buy's Corporate Headquarters as a Forecast Analyst. Then I "one-eightied" again and accepted a Fulbright grant to teach English at a university in Egypt. Eventually I went back to graduate school for economics and public policy, and now I work at the U.S. Treasury Department, focusing on a number of development programs the U.S. government funds.
What advice do you have about your field? Find something you're passionate about and do it really well. But also make sure that whatever you're doing generally fits into your plan for where you want to end up.
What else do you think is important? Take as many math and writing-intensive classes as possible. They make grad school (in pretty much any subject) much more manageable.
Name: Rebecca Stiger
What year did you graduate? 2008
Major(s)/Minor(s) at Luther: Social Work
What is your area of work? Social Service Administration
What did you do after graduating from Luther?

Immediately upon completion of my BSW I attended the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis where I individualized my concentration for violence prevention and community relations with emphasis on administration.

I am currently a Program Manager for a community-based organization in Chicago working to address violence prevention efforts for at-risk youth and adults. I also serve as a volunteer Program Development Director for an anti-trafficking organization to develop sustainable programs for victims and survivors of both sex and labor trafficking in the Chicagoland area.

What advice do you have about your field?

Social work is a broad field and if you find yourself close to graduating from college and pondering if you should work in the field or go straight to graduate school, do some serious discernment. If I did it again, I probably would have worked for a couple years before going to graduate school. A broad field can limit one's graduate studies when limited exposure has occurred. I often reflect on how much graduate school could have been more resourceful for me now that I have found my niche.

Also, learn and practice ethics. I am a strong supporter and researcher on the nature of ethics in social work and how I use ethics in my direct practice as well as in community relations and administration. Having joined the National Association of Social Workers has pivotal in my professional development.

What else do you think is important?

Learn to write grants. Social work relies heavily on grants, even if the funding is minimal. Grant writing is a skill set all unto its own that can serve you well in your career. Ask to shadow a grant writer or help a local organization with the development strategy they have to see what exposure you can consume.

Be unique in your career track. Find your passion within social work and make a creative career path towards an ultimate goal.

Name: Jeremy Stewart
What year did you graduate? 2007
Major(s)/Minor(s) at Luther: Psychology, Anthropology Majors and English Minor
What is your area of work? Channel Development at Wiley for the Everything DiSC, The Leadership Challenge, and 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team products
What did you do after graduating from Luther? After my program I moved to Denver to wrap up my thesis and look for jobs. This was at the height of the recession and I found myself doing temp work to make some good money while looking for something more stable. While a year of skiing is great, I eventually found myself moving to Minneapolis to settle closer to family. I signed up for a free month trial of the LinkedIn premium account that will put your resume at the top of the stack for jobs you apply towards. Within a few months I was able to find a position through LinkedIn at Inscape Publishing (Now called Wiley) – the creators of the DiSC® Personality assessment. It was a Partner Care role, but it was a great entry into the industry and allowed me to talk about psychometrics, research design, stats of our assessments, etc. Better yet, it was a job where I was directly consulting independent! trainers/coaches/consultants who were using our tools with their clients. After a year and a half doing this, I had the choice to move into direct training of our new Partners, or to try my hand at Channel Development (essentially recruiting new Partners). I chose to join the Channel Development group and challenge myself in new ways. I find myself using my I-O training every day with every conversation I have in talking with consultants on why they should join our network. I travel to conferences and set up a booth to talk with people who want to know about our assessments and the validity behind them. Then I work with those people to help them build our tools into their business and consult with them about the ways they can grow their business using our assessments.
What advice do you have about your field?

I’ll start by saying that one of the great things about I-O psychology is that you have a great shot at getting a job in a job market that isn’t too great. I don’t know about the other areas of psychology right now, but since I-O focuses on workplace solutions, there are many skills you will learn that are easily applicable to many job markets. Provided you are not too picky with your first “real” job, you’re shot at finding something fast is good. For me, I decided during my senior year at Luther that even though forensic psychology looked great, I-O was a more appealing option for me at the time because I only had to have two more years of schooling for a Masters and had many more options for my career path. That’s what first attracted me to I-O psych.

Depending on your immediate goals (remember, you can always find a way to further your education throughout your adult life), I’ve found that a Masters in I-O is all you need. The only applicable reason I’ve seen for getting a PhD in I-O psych is if you’d like to teach at a university. If that’s your goal, then go for it. If not, then a Masters will probably do everything you want unless a PhD is a personal goal. All of my friends who were in my program and went into the workforce with their Masters found a job that they enjoy and make a healthy living. Of the few that went on to get their PhD, some are now teaching as they intended. The ones with a PhD who are now looking for jobs private industries are actually having trouble getting jobs. It’s a mix between them being over-qualified, high expectations for their first job that you can get during grad school, and a bad jobs market. So my argument for you (based on my experience and observations) is that a ! graduate degree in I-O potentially gives you the best opportunity to get a job in business (amongst a wide range of career paths), but can also over qualify you if you don’t establish some initial goals during that first year of your grad program for what you might want to do.

What else do you think is important?

So you can see there are very different paths you will be able to take, and you’ll be able to use this training in sales, marketing, management, HR, and many other roles. In all, I’d highly recommend it if you think it likely that you’d like to work in business in some capacity or be a consultant/coach/trainer.

I hope this helps! By the way, I now work with another I-O grad from my program at UNI who I recommended for the training job that I didn’t take. I also work with 4 Luther grads (and had a 5th as an intern last summer) in a company of under 50. Not bad, huh? If you want to look at our company website, just visit www.everythingdisc.com.

If you are a Luther College alum and want to provide some brief words of advice, please use the following form.

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