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Career advice for directionless psychology graduate

I recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and I am looking for a career-path that will be fulfilling, suit my interests, and not require more than a master's degree. I'm an introvert, but I am interested in helping/understanding others. I enjoy puzzles, learning, appreciating art, and solving other people's problems. I do not want to be a therapist, though. I've been looking into healthcare fields such as nursing and genetic-counseling, marketing and HR, and school-counseling. I am hesitant about marketing/HR since I do not see myself in a corporate setting, but that will satisfy more of my creative side and I would get to work in a nice office. On the other hand, I could satisfy my curiosity and need to help others in healthcare...without the cushy office and more limited creativity. School counseling would satisfy my need to help others, but not my curiosity. I would love to try these all out, but most require further education. I need to decide what to go back to school for!

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Highland Valley’s Answer

I have a Masters in social psychology and am currently an HR Director. If you don't like a corporate setting, you could look into working in HR at a non-profit where the atmosphere is more relaxed and the mission is helping people. That sounds like a better fit for you. If you decide to be an HR generalist, there is constant learning keeping up with employment law, labor law, union changes, challenges with people, creative accommodation, creative engagement strategies, creative compensation plans, etc. There is constant learning in the HR field and constant opportunities for creative problem solving. Room for growth for you would be the training area where you would talk to a group of employees and teach them about sexual harassment or tell them about their benefit plans. Public speaking may be a great area of growth for you. I think it is worth checking out. You could always work as an HR assistant with a BA degree while you work on your Masters degree and/or your PHR certification. By learning from the head HR person you work with, you can best learn if this field is right for you and be best positioned to move up if you choose to do so. No Ph.D. required. Best of luck to you!
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Lesley’s Answer

I am a School Counselor and I'm constantly learning new things. When I need something new to satisfy my curiosity I seek good professional development. I also volunteer in my community with my students and earn creative hours right along with them. If you are a 10-month employee you'll have time to have a summer side-hustle that can also satisfy the need to be creative and earn a little extra cash too. Don't' forget that many high school educators have the opportunity to travel abroad. And because the certification is K-12 you can work with all ages. I started at the elementary level, quickly move to middle school, and after nearly 20 years, I am now a School Counselor in a High School. I have also work with incarcerated youth which was very rewarding.
I too LOVE puzzles, appreciating art (I also play the piano), and I love helping today's youth think for themselves and help them solve their problems. I've helped countless students put really good tools in their emotional tool belt. The toughest part of the job is dealing with suicidal children. The best part of the job is knowing you saved a life and helped it grow. School Counselors are considered Mental Health Professionals, but by no means are we therapists. The line is pretty clear.
With every job, there are aspects that are so frustrating that you want to scream sometimes. That's why it's called a job and not a hobby. :-) But there are typically other counselors and educators that are there to help you sort it all out. As with any employer, leadership is everything. Work for a great Principal and you'll probably love 99.9% of what you do. Find them and follow them! People don't leave jobs, they leave poor leadership.
On a side note, You will need a Master's Degree in order to perform the job. Most School Counseling programs are 50 to 60 credit hours with at least one full-time semester internship.
Good luck with whatever you choose. I would suggest interviewing professional sin each of the fields that you are considering. Talk with a Career Specialist at the university that you are considering attending. They probably have good decision-making tools to help you. Check out what careers might be best with your Myers-Briggs type. And if you are on the cusp, look as those as well.

Yours in Education,

Lesley Morter
School Counselor, IB Program
Hillsborough High School, Tampa, FL. HOME OF THE BIG RED!
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Caroline’s Answer

I can relate to your story -- I recently began working as an HR consultant at a large tech company after earning my MBA in a two year full-time program. I decided to go back and earn my MBA after working in another role (operations) for five years after undergrad. While I didn't study psychology undergrad, part of me wishes I had. I am thrilled to now be working in HR because it provides an opportunity to work at the intersection of psychology and business. Interesting opportunities exist in my current role to help employees with challenges surrounding mental health and personal/professional development. As someone who highly values purpose and impact, I was pleasantly surprised to find a large company with an authentic commitment to corporate social responsibility. You may be surprised at what large companies can offer in terms of meaningful work. I would recommend you check out this article for companies that are committed to more than just profits: https://www.businessroundtable.org/business-roundtable-redefines-the-purpose-of-a-corporation-to-promote-an-economy-that-serves-all-americans. Regarding being an introvert, I can also relate to that and honestly do find open-plan environments that tech companies often have challenging to work in because of the constant stimulation. I have learned techniques to help replenish my energy (time spent alone in quiet rooms working on individual projects, meditation, etc.); I do think another environment might be better suited to my introverted disposition, but the pros currently outweigh the cons and the techniques I mentioned to help. Best of luck!
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Highland Valley’s Answer

I have a Masters in social psychology and am currently an HR Director. If you don't like a corporate setting, you could look into working in HR at a non-profit where the atmosphere is more relaxed and the mission is helping people. That sounds like a better fit for you. If you decide to be an HR generalist, there is constant learning keeping up with employment law, labor law, union changes, challenges with people, creative accommodation, creative engagement strategies, creative compensation plans, etc. There is constant learning in the HR field and constant opportunities for creative problem solving. Room for growth for you would be the training area where you would talk to a group of employees and teach them about sexual harassment or tell them about their benefit plans. Public speaking may be a great area of growth for you. I think it is worth checking out. You could always work as an HR assistant with a BA degree while you work on your Masters degree and/or your PHR certification. By learning from the head HR person you work with, you can best learn if this field is right for you and be best positioned to move up if you choose to do so. No Ph.D. required. Best of luck to you!
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JENNIFER’s Answer

I graduated with the same degree as you! My advice to you, would be to take some career interest surveys on line to narrow your focus. The Department of Labor has some free assessments on their website. I went on, and received a Masters in Counseling Psychology and focused on career development. I love career coaching. You may enjoy that field too if resume writing and counseling appeal to you. Always remember to follow your passion for a fulfilling career of your choice.
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Stefanie’s Answer

I also have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and after working in the field for a bit, I realized it was not a good fit for me! I decided to go into HR (my first position was working in an HR phone queue servicing calls from employees at a large Corporation, then moved into a Team Lead role where I gained experience hiring and training new team members, and finally transitioned into recruiting). I have been a Corporate Recruiter for about six years. Through recruiting I've had the opportunity to hire for different industries (including financial services/banking, grocery warehousing, and public health), and I've really enjoyed learning more about different career paths and types of positions. You could look into recruiting for creative industries (maybe hiring for marketing or advertising professionals). Some Recruiters start out in Recruiting Coordinator positions, where they focus more on the administrative side of the process, which is a great way to get started in the profession. I hope that helps!
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Facundo’s Answer

I relate with your story (psychologist, being an introvert). I've been working in HR for the last 10 years, doing Talent Acquisition in IT industry. It's a challenging job, given how competitive is this market (hiring developers is difficult!). So you need to be very creative, and at the same time keep updated. This is an evolving landscape, so you have to keep up with new roles and technologies. There's no time to get bored!
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Kumi’s Answer

Here's an out of box idea.. try looking into recruiting.. it's a specialty within HR, you might find one that is in medicine or counseling, so you'd talk to people in those roles and learn what are successful profiles. There are specialty recruiting firms that are retained, and there are corporate recruiting jobs... this means you work maybe for a hospital helping them fill roles. As someone who describes herself as an introvert, you might prefer the corporate route. A retained or contingent search firm feels a lot like sales.. you have to be persistent and talk to a lot of people. In house recruiting is more about being friendly, organized and fast. It's rewarding to see good jobs get filled by good individuals, and you are not committing yourself. You are building experience in HR, so while you are there, network through to learn more about organization design, compensation, generalist HR. There is a master's program for HR, but it's not necessary to be successful.
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Natalie’s Answer

Hi Rachel (and anyone else who may be reading!) -

I can relate to what you are looking for (and am a fellow introvert as well!). If you do decide you're open to exploring corporate life, within the HR field, you might consider either the HR Business Partner (HRBP) or HR Operations route in addition to the Recruiting advice from earlier posts. Both would incorporate the problem-solving & learning aspect -

- HR Operations is more practical/tactical (speaks to that "puzzles" side for sure)...you would build and design processes that try to optimize both efficiency and employee experience. If you've got a keen eye for bringing organization from chaos, this could be for you :)

- HRBPs are a very influential role in the business, as they are paired with organizational leaders to help ensure the success of the team - from how the team is set up / structured to dealing with performance coaching, etc. You would get to be a consultant on a team's biggest people initiatives and challenges!

Good luck!
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Alisa’s Answer

You don't have to figure out what career you are going to pursue immediately. Once you start working and trying different careers you will figure out what key qualities bring you job satisfaction and that will help you BUILD YOUR OWN CAREER. Remember, you never have to fit into a perfectly prescribed career field. You will be amazed by how many jobs and careers exist that you didn't even realize existed. Be open to these unknown opportunities. Internships are a fantastic way to start to see what jobs would really bring you career satisfaction. Since there are already several career paths you are interested in I would start looking to see if there are internship opportunities, or even just networking with folks who are in that industry. In this era of social distancing don't be afraid to reach out to people who look interesting on LinkedIn and seeing if they would be open to helping you think through pursuing a similar career as them. You may be surprised by how many people will jump on an opportunity to help guide a stranger.
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