Meghan Jones

Meghan Jones

Meghan Jones

Q&A with Meghan Jones

Meghan Jones is a Psychology Major, with a minor in Sociology. She is also completing the Clinical Concentration aspect offered to Psychology Majors (she has completed certain classes that pertain to the clinical side of Psychology) at St. Joseph’s University.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University?

I have had an amazing experience at St. Joe’s. I have loved almost all of my psychology courses at SJU (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 which I will not name). It is a great feeling to look forward to attending a class because it is something that truly interests you. All of my psychology teachers are interested and invested in what they are teaching, which motivates me to do my best and get the best experience out of the classes. Not only are these professors teaching the classes, but they are also mentors that have given myself and my fellow classmate’s valuable information for future aspirations.

Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

When it came time to decide on a school, I had narrowed it down to Penn State and Saint Joe’s. I choose SJU because I felt more at home when I had visited. It was a smaller school and that was something that interested me. I knew that walking into a class with 500 other students was not somewhere I would know how to excel in. Instead, having 20 or 30 students is not as intimidating and you can really connect one-on-one with your professors. I also liked the fact that SJU was only a 20 minute train ride from my house, which allows for easy access home when I wanted to, as well as easy access to the wide variety of things that Philadelphia has to offer.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

I took a Developmental Psychology my senior year of high school and I developed a strong interest. Going into my freshman year at SJU, they asked us to pick an area that interested us. I knew that I did not want a business job where I would sit in an office 9-5. Instead, I wanted to work with people, specifically children and families, and make a difference somehow in their lives. The best way I knew to pursue this was through a Psychology Major so I decided to declare that as my major and I’ve stuck with it ever since!

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

I am participating in my first “real” internship this summer. It is at the Women’s Resource Center in Wayne, PA. I am serving as a phone volunteer assisting women in the 5 county Philadelphia area who are in need of various kinds of help (divorce, custody, financial, relationship, housing, etc.) This has been a very rewarding experience thus far and a great experience connecting with all the highly-experience women who work there. I found this internship through a fellow classmate who had interned there in the past. Dr. Anastasio, the internship coordinator for psych majors at SJU, was very helpful to me. She gave me a long list of places I could find potential internships. She has always been one of my favorite professors and it is a comforting feeling to know that she is always looking to help her students. When looking for internships, most of it is on your own, but if you put in the effort it is possible to find them.

Another valuable experience I gained from my major was working with a former professor and her graduate student on his research study. I served as a confederate in his study and really learned a lot of important information about graduate level education in general, as well as SJU’s grad program.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

After graduating from SJU, I hope to attend Grad School to get my masters and go into social work. Maybe one day down the road I would continue my education and go higher than a masters. I would love to work with children and families either in foster care, or with children with behavioral issues in elementary school. Aside from Psychology, I want to get married and start a family of my own and hopefully adopt as well.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

I think the most challenging aspect of studying psychology as been the attitude towards the field as a whole from those outside of it. SJU is known for its business school, so I have felt that I need to fight a little harder to prove the worth and importance of the psych major. People always ask the question, “What are you going to do with that major?” and I want to prove that it is possible to be successful with a major that may not seem as popular as others. In a way, it almost motivates me to want to prove otherwise. You don’t always have to choose the major that will earn the most money or get you a job the easiest. This was something that I hadn’t really anticipated, but I noticed it right away after starting college.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?

Listen to the advice of your professors and mentors, take every opportunity that crosses your path even if it may seem insignificant, and decide what will make you happy and then go for it. I do not believe it is worth it to stay in a job that makes you unhappy just to get a bigger paycheck.

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

I wish I had known more about the education and time requirements that go into most jobs related to psychology. It would most likely not have changed things, but I think it would be nice to know more about what jobs require our masters, PHD, licensure, etc.

Kristen Boyle

Kristen Boyle

Kristen Boyle

Q&A with Kristen Boyle

Kristen Boyle is a psychology major with a fine art minor. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in experimental psychology and will graduate with a combined BS/MS degree in psychology in the spring of 2017 from St. Joseph’s University.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

I have had a great experience so far in my school’s psychology department. Since my first semester freshmen year, I’ve enjoyed all of the psychology classes I have taken. My professors have always kept material interesting and engaging. There were other schools I was considering, but after visiting St. Joe’s, it became my first choice. I loved the overall ideals and atmosphere of the school combined with the fact that the psychology department offered an accelerated five-year Master’s program.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

I chose to major in psychology because I knew I wanted a career that would in some way help people. I took a psychology course in high school and found the subject extremely interesting. Psychology seemed like a perfect fit, something that I loved learning about and a way to be of service to others, whether that be in counseling or research.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

Yes, I have participated in one internship at a non-profit children’s behavioral health organization. I was able to shadow psychologists and see testing and counseling performed firsthand. I feel very fortunate to have had that opportunity. I found the internship on my own, but the department does provide a lot of resources to help students, along with feedback from past interns.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

After graduating from St. Joseph’s, I’d like to go on to pursue a doctorate degree in psychology. I’m still trying to decide if I’d like a career in research or counseling. Right now I am thinking of becoming a school psychologist or using my interests in art to become an art therapist.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

One of my favorite aspects of the field of psychology is how broad it can be; yet, in a way this can also be somewhat challenging. It’s hard to narrow down what interests me most of all. I hadn’t really anticipated this, but the more classes I take, and the more I learn, the more my curiosity is piqued.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field? 

I would advise them to take every opportunity to experience a broad range of career paths. Don’t be afraid to job shadow a wide variety of professions and take on internship, volunteer, and research opportunities. I feel lucky to be a part of a program that has allowed me to intern, study abroad, as well as work alongside faculty in their research.

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

I wish I had known how heavily I would be relying upon statistics. If I had known earlier in high school that I wanted to major in psychology, I would have taken a statistics course to make sure I liked this aspect of psychology too. Statistics are used not only in conducting your own research, but also in better understanding past psychological research.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan

Q&A with Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and doubling with a Bachelor of Art in Quantitative Economics. He is a rising sophomore, planning on graduating in 2018 from Saint Joseph’s University.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

I have had nothing but positive experiences with Psychology at Saint Joseph’s University. My teachers have provided great classroom experiences and, while I have not had the opportunity to conduct research yet, I have taken part in many intriguing studies. In choosing a school to study Psychology, there were a variety of options for me. However, what made SJU stand out was a particular meeting I had with a faculty member while visiting the school during my senior year. The faculty member was Dr. Anastasio, who I had the pleasure of having as my professor for Intro to Personality. She assured me that there would be countless opportunities for research and particularly catered to my interests in the fields of behavioral research and Behavioral Economics.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point first sparked my interest for the inner workings of the mind. After reading this work, I decided that I would take a Psychology elective and seek out more books on the topic. These inquiries supported my ultimate decision to pursue Psychology as a major.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

Currently I am interning at a small family wealth management firm where I assist in organizational work and research on various foreign and domestic markets. Since I only just completed my freshman year at the university, I have not had the opportunity participate in an internship connected to Psychology. However, as an upperclassmen at SJU, students have an opportunity to participate in a Psychology internship as an experiential requirement. While I have not participated in this program, some students that I know mentioned how helpful the department was in their internship searches.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

I can’t say with any certainty what my future career plans and aspirations are, I feel like they have been changing every day. I would like to do something related to the field of Behavioral Economics. I think applying Psychology to other fields to better understand behavior and decision making is extremely interesting.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

For me, the most challenging aspect of studying psychology has been focusing on the biological aspect of the subject. The biological makeup of the brain and body may not have been something that I originally anticipated to study, but I welcome it. While it is difficult at times to remember various structures and functions, it is an aspect of Psychology that I enjoy learning about.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field? 

My advice to anyone thinking about breaking into the field of Psychology would be not to be deterred by what people say. I have encountered many people who think that I’ll never get a job with a Psychology degree or who tell me how much education I will need for a decent job. I firmly believe that if you work hard, you will be successful. So if the field interests you, study it!

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

I would say that I wish that I had known more about applications of Psychology and different avenues of careers. I knew that Psychology interested me but that I did not have any desire to be a clinical psychologist. Through my own research and discussions with professors I have found many applications for the field. However, this would have been very helpful information to know before choosing Psychology as my major.

Victoria Perko

Victoria Perko

Victoria Perko

Q&A with Victoria Perko

Victoria Perko is currently a senior Psychology major graduating in May of 2016 from St. Joseph’s University. She will graduate with a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is also a part of the five-year master’s program in psychology and will be taking master’s classes this coming year and graduating with her M.S. in experimental psychology in May of 2017.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

Before I committed to Saint Joseph’s University, I was also looking at the University of Delaware. I am on the dance team here at Saint Joseph’s, which was an important factor in my decision to attend this school. The university of Delaware also has a great dance team, but I was pulled to Saint Joseph’s University due to other amazing qualities it has. Just a few of the many qualities I love about Saint Joseph’s are its community, small size, and mission. It has been the best decision of my life thus far! I feel that the curriculum I have experienced at Saint Joseph’s University has influenced me to see the world in a different way. I love the person I am becoming a student here, and I am so thankful to be a part of the psychology department. My courses always challenge me to think outside of the box. The interesting topics we discuss are usually on my mind for hours after class has ended. I like that the small class size allows me to make more personal relationships with my professors. In my experience, the psychology faculty is incredibly educated yet also willing to learn new things from their students. Seeing that my professors are open to new ideas helps me realize how this field always has something new to offer, and I admire them for this quality.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

I actually applied to college as an accounting major at first. I knew that I could make a lot of money in that trade, but my heart would not have been in it. In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to be in psychology. I had a “What are you doing?” moment and changed my major to psychology before freshman year even started. My drive to study psychology stemmed from my interest in why people act the way they do. I have always been interested in crime and I am fascinated with why people choose to commit crime. I knew that following a psychology path with a minor in criminal justice would give me insight on this topic. I am so thankful I made the switch because attending my psychology courses is fun, and I am sure I would not have said the same about accounting!

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

The psychology department has an entire list of sites available to look at in order to find an internship. I had a little bit of trouble finding a place that would take me in the beginning, since sites normally like to take upperclassmen. Through my stepfather, I was able to work as an intern in the Navy Yard at McKean Defense Group for two summers. It was hard to put my true aspirations on hold, but I still enjoyed the experience of a professional setting. This summer, I am an employee at Clarity Service Group as a Personal Care Assistant. I found the company through a family connection, but they did have a table at the career fair as well. It has been a great way for me to begin my career as a psychologist, and I love that I am finally working with a company that specializes in psychology.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

I must say that my career plans keep changing as the budding psychologist inside me grows. My aspiration would be to find the perfect combination between psychology and criminal justice. I have put deep thought into what career would fit me best, and I find the most gratification seems to be with children. My passions are leading me on a path to help children that may not have the opportunities others have. It would be amazing to work in or run a juvenile detention center that focuses on rehabilitating the adolescents for their return back to society. This is currently where I think I might want to follow my path, but I am still debating on the prison aspect. I think I would also be happy working as a school counselor or a child psychologist, as long as I am able to help children!

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

I think the most challenging aspect of studying psychology is coming to terms with the fact that there is still so much research to be done to understand the brain. Growing up, you want to believe that scientists have the answer for everything, but a lot of times, the discussion ends with “This area needs more research” or “We are still not sure why this happens”. It is also tough trying to decipher the good research from bad. It was a surprise to me how many factors can skew data and how much it can limit the research. I did not anticipate this at first, but with my professors’ help, I have become a better critical thinker through understanding not all research is good research.

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

I still feel that I have so much to learn about my career since I am not yet in it. I have ideas, but I am still in the process of figuring out which path I want to go down. All of the possibilities of career paths in psychology can be overwhelming, especially since I am the first person in my family to pursue this profession. If I were to give advice to someone who is interested in pursuing psychology, I would tell that person to network as much as possible. It is incredibly helpful to get advice from people who have experience in the field. Look up the career that most interests you and contact someone with that job in your area. Keep an open mind. There is so much that can be done in psychology, you never know where you might end up! I think even if you have a set career in mind, life has a way of throwing a wrench in your plans to shift you down different paths. Even if plan A does not work out, everything will fall into place if you keep looking in areas that interest you!

Comments and Questions

Brandon Perelman

Brandon Perelman

Brandon Perelman

Q&A with Brandon Perelman

Brandon Perelman received his MS degree in Experimental Psychology in 2012 from Saint Joseph’s University, and his PhD in Applied Cognitive Science & Human Factors this year (2015) from Michigan Technological University.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

I had a fantastic experience at SJU, both personally and academically. SJU is strong when it comes to basic experimental psychology research. The professors in the Experimental Psychology program are active in their respective fields and tend to study interesting problems. Like most graduate school applicants, I was considering several other schools. However, the strength of SJU’s Experimental Psychology program, and what ultimately attracted me to the institution, lies in the program’s emphasis on real-world skills and employability, especially in research methods, statistics, and physiological data collection. The training afforded by this program is exceptionally versatile. Many of my classmates went on to industry jobs in marketing and medical research, while others went on to complete experimental or clinical doctoral degrees.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

Experimental psychology has always been attractive to me, though I’ve worked in other scientific fields. I actually spent my undergraduate career completing the prerequisites for medical school, and had worked in microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Ultimately, I wanted the flexible hours of a career in research and versatility in my education. As an infantry veteran with an interest in defense-related human performance research, an education in experimental psychology gives me the tools to address many of the problems facing our nation’s military.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

I’ve participated in a number of psychology internships, some of which resulted in job offers. However, most of these were completed as a doctoral student. Mostly notably, I had the opportunity to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and I am actually still an employee of Applied Research Associates Inc., Cognitive Solutions Division.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

Currently, I’m a post-doctoral researcher with Army Research Labs’ Human Research & Engineering Directorate at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, and a remote employee with ARA, Inc. This is a fantastic opportunity to make connections for future collaborations and potential sources of funding, while keeping the doors open to a career in academia, industry, or a government service lab. At the moment, I haven’t made any decisions about settling into one of those career lines. I can say that I’ve had great personal and professional experiences everywhere I’ve had the opportunity to work, and I look forward to maintaining those relationships wherever I go.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

The most challenging aspect of my career was switching from basic experimental psychology research to computational modeling and simulation. Computer programming, specifically in languages like PEBL (the psychology experiment building language) and R (the statistical computing language), is incredibly valuable for data collection, and analysis and modeling, respectively. But, the learning curve can be somewhat steep, and learning to program well takes a great deal of dedication and a knowledgeable (and patient) mentor.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field? 

To someone interested in a career in psychology, I would advise taking the “hard” classes that many of your classmates will avoid, and that may only be offered elsewhere in your institution (i.e., outside of the psychology program). These classes include things like anatomy and physiology, advanced statistics, computational modeling, computer science, and calculus. Not only will these skills set you apart from many of your peers, but they will give you a great deal of versatility in the work place. In addition, I was incredibly lucky because my MS and PhD advisors were both incredibly brilliant, capable, patient, and everything else you want in a mentor. In addition to classwork, you stand to learn a great deal from your mentors, so choose them wisely!

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

I wish I had known more about two things, (1) the importance of calculus and computer programming, and (2) the great wealth of fellowship opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students in fields related to psychology. When searching for fellowships, internships, and scholarships, be sure to check government institutions. If there are no opportunities available in psychology, search under related fields such as cognitive science and human factors psychology. A new focus of government funding is students involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, so searching under terms better suited to those fields may yield better results.

Emily Grossner

Emily Grossner

Emily Grossner

Q&A with Emily Grossner

Meet Emily Grossner. Emily earned her B.A. in psychology from Franklin & Marshall College in 2012 and her M.S. in experimental psychology from Saint Joseph’s University in 2015.

What has your experience in psychology been like at St. Joseph’s University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

My experience in the Master’s program in experimental psychology at Saint Joseph’s University was wonderful! This program provided me with countless research and academic experiences that have shaped me into a strong student in the field of psychology. While in this program, I was able to take graduate courses in multiple areas of psychology that I had not been exposed to during my undergraduate years. I was also able to delve further into statistics and research, both of which are skills necessary for continuing my education in a doctoral program. SJU was my top choice for a Master’s program because it provided me with the opportunity to work closely with one mentor and focus my research in a specific domain. I believe that this mentorship model is important for graduate school because it allows students to form strong relationships with professors and develop a niche within this vast field.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

Since high school, I have been fascinated by the workings of the brain and how it influences our behavior. I was not originally interested in the therapy aspect of psychology, but I knew I wanted to focus in cognitive or neuropsychological research. It was not until coming to Saint Joseph’s University that I was able to strongly focus in the field of neuropsychology and pursue both clinical and research interests.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

After my first year in graduate school, I was offered an internship at a clinical neuropsychology office and sports concussion clinic. This was exciting for me because the Master’s program at SJU is an experimental research program and does not provide clinical experiences. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with clinical neuropsychologists and discover how my research relates directly to a clinical population. My mentor was incredibly helpful in helping me to secure this internship. I was able to use his connections in the field to network with other neuropsychologists and find an internship that suited my strengths, as well as provided me with new experiences.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

In a few months, I will continue my education in a Ph.D. program in clinical neuropsychology at Penn State University. I will be continuing my research in neuropsychology, specifically focusing in recovery from traumatic brain injury. My ultimate career goal is to become a professor or researcher in an academic medical center.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

I think my biggest challenge in studying psychology has been breaking into a specific domain within the field. Psychology in general is such a vast field and I have found it challenging to narrow my focus to a particular area and find faculty who specialize in my area of interest. This was a challenge that I did not originally anticipate when I first began my undergraduate studies, as I did not initially realize how many areas of psychology there truly are.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field? Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

My advice for students entering psychology would be to build strong connections with multiple professors and mentors. All of my professors have provided me with many skill sets and multiple viewpoints on research and psychology. Professors also have connections to other psychologists outside of the university, so there are always countless networking opportunities to be had. I wish I had learned this lesson earlier so that I could have begun networking and forming new connections from day one!