Undergrad: Majored in Criminal Justice with a focus in Forensics (Bio, Chem, Physics etc.) and Forensic Psych (standard undergrad psych courses, plus some additional courses: forensic psych, victimology, etc. & a TON of research methodology & statistics. Through my 3.5 years in undergrad, virtually NO direct laboratory research was even available.
Grad School: Master of Science- Neuroscience/Neurobiology. EVERYTHING was neuro. From neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, to genetics, pharmacology, clinical neurology, SP topics in biological literature (of neuroscience), physiological psychology etc. And neuro-specific research opportunities were actually available in grad school.
To make a very long story/answer short: I now work in a Biochemistry research lab, as well as an adjunct Organic Chemistry instructor, working towards a PhD.
If I could go back, the advice I would give myself is: major in something you truly enjoy learning about, but utilize your electives as building blocks (declare a minor in bio or chem). And research, research, research and more research. Try your best to seek out faculty who are accepting undergrad research assistants, and more importantly: make sure you love the research you’re doing! It’s easy to burnout quickly in research if the research seems daunting. Find out what you truly love about behavioral neuroscience, and find a faculty member at your university/college who is researching something analogous!
If you are interested in eventual graduate school in neuroscience here is what I would recommend now:
1. Take a college class in either Python or R if you can
2. If you apply to an RA job, apply to some handling biological samples (blood, saliva, urine, etc.) (common in neuroscience, and less people apply to these. they will likely pay to train you on the job, too.)
3. Ask a professor whose class you enjoy if they have any projects you could help out with as a research assistant (volunteer or paid in course credit if possible)
The neuroscience field runs on data science and programming, and Python, MATLAB, and R are the primary programs they use. Any experience in that will demonstrate value, and it's likely not as hard as you think if you give it an earnest shot. It will give you a serious leg up on any other applicants.
If you're not interested in graduate neuroscience or graduate psychology, these are some adjacent fields and positions that may work, given people I've known in the field with a similar degree:
-Clinical research coordinator
-Public health/epidemiology (likely need a Masters in Public Health or greater)
-Data analyst/programmer (additional training in statistics and programming or Masters degree likely needed)
-UX Design/Researcher (Esp. if you have skills in graphic design, video, or audio. A Masters in Human-Computer Interaction would put you in the running for these jobs)
-Social worker (need at least a Masters)
-ABA- autism behavioral therapy
-Lawyer (since there is no pre-law degree requirement, anyone with a bachelor's can apply. 20+ law schools now also accept the GRE)
-Crisis hotline worker
-Psychologist or psychiatrist (need a grad degree)
Hope this helps!
Rita recommends the following next steps: