Assistant Professor of Psychology
Stephanie McGowanTell us about your work-what do you do? I am a professor in a psychology department. I teach courses on introductory psychology, social psychology , and statistics. I also conduct research in the area of social psychology. What skills are needed? For the research process, one needs creativity in order to develop studies that answer your research question. Analytical skills are also necessary, in order to organize and make sense of the collected data. One must also have good interpersonal communication skills to describe the results to colleagues. What was your major? Psychology How did you get started in your career? After graduating from college, I went to graduate school to earn a PhD. What experience do you need in this job? You must have experience with psychological research . Working as a research assistant as an undergraduate student is ideal. In graduate school, you must begin independent research projects. Describe your " typical" workday: It depends on the day. On teaching days, I get to my office by 7 a.m., review my lecture notes for about 45 minutes, and then head to class. I hold office hours immediately following class in order to meet with students and discuss any questions they may have. In between classes and office hours, I keep up with e-mail, prep new class lectures, and grade papers. On non-teaching days, I develop a plan for whatever research projects I'm working on. Usually that means that I begin with the project that is nearest completion. I schedule time to analyze the data or write; depending on what stage I'm at. I also meet with graduate and undergraduate students to discuss data collection and planning new studies. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Staying focused on the task at hand. With several research projects and classes competing for my attention, I have to schedule my time carefully. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? I really enjoy it when students tell me that a particular theory or statistical test has suddenly become clear after we've discussed it in class.In terms of research, knowing that I can contribute to the field of psychology with new research findings is also very exciting. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? First, try to get as much research experience as you can while in college. Volunteer as a research assistant with more than one professor in order to get a varied view of how research is conducted. Second, choose a graduate school based on what type of research interests you. The most important aspect of graduate school is working with faculty members who will, hopefully, provide mentoring relationships. Look up researchers in your area of interest, and then contact them about their graduate program. Try to get an idea of what they are like before you decide to attend that graduate program. Having a good working relationship is key.