What job opportunities would be available to me with a declared double major in Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, and what steps can I take while in college to better my chances at obtaining a job?
As stated in the question, I am double majoring in Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology. I want to study the relation of the brain to cognition and behavior to gain a better understanding of the only partially unlocked human mind and how this understanding can help with mental health and everyday life. To do so, I want to go into research, but I'm unsure of the sorts of jobs available to me and the likeliness that I'd even be able to obtain one. #psychology #neuroscience #cognitive-psychology
This is wonderful to see someone interested in such a career! I studied Cognitive Neuroscience at UC Davis, and want to become a researcher too. However, I am still on a journey of specifying my research interests. The advice I give below are from personal experience, of things I have done and/or wish I had done.
Research jobs will be available to you, especially if you gain the right experience and show you are both interested and dedicated to research. Other jobs, however, might include being a therapist, psychologist, working for Google AI, working as a User Experience researcher, being a psychology instructor...
While in college, there are definitely steps you can take to become a researcher in Cognitive Neuroscience/Psychology. First, I strongly recommend that you volunteer in a psychology lab, preferably one in which you are interested in the research. This will not only show empolyer's and graduate schools that you are interested in research, but will surround you with like-minded people who will also help you with your path towards becoming a researcher. I would also suggest that while in this lab, not only stay with it as long as you can, but actually make connections. Get to know the people in your lab, ask them about their goals, interests and their path to research. If you have been working there for a while and have interest in learning something else, voice that to your lab manager or PI and I'm sure they would be more than happy to help. Your lab experience will mostly be what YOU make of it :)
Second, I'd suggest getting to know your professors, especially those in psychology/cognitive neuroscience/neuroscience/linguistics/philosophy... This will not only help you do well in the class and possibly get letters of recommendation, but will also help you learn their path to research, their motives, goals, and what they did to get to where they are.
If you are specifically interested in mental health, I'd suggest joining a club on campus that advocates for mental health. If you are interested in mental health and want to experience what it is like for one to see a therapist-- I'd say go ahead and do that, too! It is very strong to do things and experience things you are studying.
I would also take time to think about obtaining your masters degree and/or PhD after undergraduate-- which is what pretty much all researchers obtain. Think about when you want to enter graduate school, and prepare from there. As a guide, it does take a while to both prepare for and take the GRE, and you might also want to take the GRE Psychology subject test. Think about the schools you want to apply to as well.
Lastly, I would also suggest taking some type of computer science course, because a lot of research is gathering data and expressing it both verbally and visually... which scientists use code for. I'd suggest taking a class that uses R (for example, a statistics course on psychological data) and/or a course on Python, which is a very popular and widely used language.
I hope this helps, and good luck!
Nicole recommends the following next steps:
There aren't nearly enough researchers who have any clinical acumen at all. That's part of why clinicians and researchers often distrust and ignore one another. You have a chance to make a difference, once you get past your self-doubt.
It's like climbing a mountain. When you reach your destination and look back, your whole path will make sense and seem inevitable. There's no way now to predict every twist and turn your path will take on its way to the top. So open yourself and commit to following your path, always taking the next step offered while keeping the end in mind.
You can find great positions as a researcher in neuroscience/psychological organizations that focus mainly on research. Once you graduate, you can start by applying for a fellowship at those research-based companies. Also, with your psychology degree, you have the option to work as a counselor/therapist, with the appropriate license. If you plan to pursue graduate school, you even have the option to teach in the associate and bachelor levels.
With GOD Grace in my mind ability . I suggested that if we understand the human mind first of all understand self and clear all doubts or confusion .then it is not tough to understand the human mind . So study about psychology is must.
As you guessed, being trained in research is important for many such roles. My training as a researcher is as important as my training as a psychologist. Roles that require specialized knowledge or skill in psych and cognitive neuroscience are mostly targeted at people with advanced degrees: sometimes Masters degrees, often PhDs, less often but sometimes PsyDs. (Clinical settings are outside my experience and are a bit different). So planning on graduate work is a good idea if you want to work in a field that leverages psychology skills and knowledge.
Also, in all my roles, I've found that solid understanding of other technical fields is an asset. As an undergraduate, I took a minor in Math along with my major in Psych: the additional math skills that I acquired have repeatedly helped me to understand problems, solve them, or understand how others are approaching them. As a graduate student, I took additional classes in computer science, math, and philosophy (logic), to expand my ability to think about problems systematically and consistently.
Nicole (above) has some great practical advice for what to do in school. I'll just add that more cross-training in other technical fields is useful and can help to differentiate you from others with backgrounds in psychology (it's a very popular field). I'd also think about the field(s) to which you're interested in applying your psychology training (medicine , aerospace, engineering, consumer technology, training/education, design) and consider double-majoring, minoring, or otherwise cross-training in that field.