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Is it realistic to work in business fields with a Psychology degree?

I love studying psychology and find that it can help me move forward into becoming a clinical psychologist or academic counselor after undergrad. I find that a degree in psychology may be pretty versatile and would like to use it to explore careers in business as well. I plan on taking business classes to obtain a certificate from my community college and maybe even minor in Business while majoring in Psychology when I transfer to univeristy. I want to explore business administration, HR, and marketing, but I believe Psychology is my "stronger" suit, thus I want I major in Psychology and minor in BA/HR/marketing. However, I have read that many people struggle finding jobs in business with a Psychology degree. I am not sure if it is even worth putting my focus in business if business employers find my education non-sufficient. A lot of online forums and YouTube videos are especially discouraging. What do you think? Should I just focus on my goal of becoming a counselor instead?

Thank you for your answers!

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Ron’s Answer

I think I can relate: I have a Psych degree and I've been in business (financial/retirement services) for my entire career, so I think you most definitely can succeed! I like to think of success in your career being about using your strengths to drive results and those strengths are not dependent only on your college degree. One key strength from my Psychology degree is my interest in people, which every strong leader in any company should be able to connect to and understand people. And it doesn't only have to be the CEO/Executive/Manager with their team; one could develop/build an amazing product but if you can't connect it the customer (marketing), that's only half the accomplishment.

Also, don't discount your skills of finishing a degree, regardless of what the major/minor is: organization, communication, resourcefulness (looking up youtube.), initiative (asking for advice). These are more essential for entry level jobs than knowing that exact business subject matter. Most of what I/people do is solving problems when there is no answer, not having the exact answer all the time.

When I'm hiring, I look for someone who can learn quickly and shows a commitment to bettering themselves and work hard to drive results. One can teach most anything to someone with the skills I've mentioned and they will have a chance to be successful at the job.

I will say, I did leverage some technical skills I was developing by volunteering and building websites for groups when I was in school. So i think taking some additional coursework or minoring like you mentioned is a great way to build skills. You would just have to practice sharing those skills and connecting it to job/role in the interview process.

Ron recommends the following next steps:

Take a Business Writing course. This was extremely helpful for me.
Keep looking for jobs that interest you and highlight what parts of the role align with your interests. (Doesn't have to be a lifelong commitment! But start somewhere)
If you start to find something you like, also look at the gaps and think about how you might address those. Either use your strengths or be willing to learn.
Be humble, open to constructive criticism and always be willing to learn more than your competition.
In interviews, share with the hiring manager(s) what skills, content, and drive you have to drive results in the job and address your weaknesses.

I appreciate your insight and tips!! Christina L.

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Eileen’s Answer

There are some good answers here. I would also add that the relative strength of the hiring market can impact how easy it would be for a Psych major would be in getting in the door to the first job. Once your in the door, it's your relative success at the first job that can open future doors for you. I highly recommend getting some real-world experience in business by volunteering or interning. This will help you in confirming your interest, and it will help get you noticed at hiring time. As a business graduate in a business role, I found the skills that helped me most in my career were not academic, but rather I learned in school how to figure things out without a road map. Any opportunity that you have to create something that had not been done before, collaborate with others successfully to achieve a goal, or otherwise show leadership or initiative will be helpful in promoting your abilities to hiring managers. Best wishes!
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Julie’s Answer

Absolutely. A psychology degree would be a perfect degree to apply to the business environment. Understanding how to create an environment where everyone can thrive is critical to strong business performance. Finding the key triggers for what motivates individuals (hygiene factors and motivational), understanding the impact of behaviour upon others, how to build successful relationships, conflict management etc are all key. I note you are interested in HR and Marketing: a psychology degree in HR helps with recruitment (understanding unconscious and conscious bias), wellbeing strategies, remuneration strategies, and identifying training and development. In Marketing, one of the key tasks is to understand what delights your consumers and how to influence their behaviour - how to attract them to your product or service.
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Deijana’s Answer

Yes! a lot of businesses do need someone with a psychology degree. Business is about selling, and to sell you have to be good with people. And with your degree, you know people! Typically the best role is in the HR department, dealing with internal affairs between co-workers, and also analyzing new potential hires. There is a lot of assets you could bring to a business company.
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Paul Anthony’s Answer

Psychology majors (and most other liberal arts, for that matter) are meant for gaining prospective and learning to develop insight. However, they don't do a great job of getting you experience that makes you valuable to an employer at an early stage. A business minor could be helpful in that regard, especially if you take advantage of the opportunities to network and find internships. The disadvantage of a liberal arts major in the job searching process can be getting passed the resume phase, because there are so many of them. To solve this you need to be able to demonstrate that you can bring value to an employer. Find opportunities to work on projects, some schools will have clubs that consult with local businesses, build up that skill set of understanding how businesses work and make money. Excel skills are very helpful, being able to organize data and build simple models is a skill that's widely applicable across the business world. Once you have those skills, you should be able to draw on your psychology background to analyze the data and the larger business problems and provide valuable insight.
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Christina! When I read this question I thought of a class I took as an undergraduate, which was Industrial and Organizational Psychology (I/O Psych). The class discussed psychology in the workplace and I think psychology is definitely important for business as well. Like you said psychology is versatile and taking up business with it can open doors. It can help you with future employees in your own business-should you decide to set up one-as well as give you a competitive edge when applying for a job. You can present skills in the workplace to help out employees in their projects and work relationships among each other. It can be difficult true, but I think maybe then you can do a minor in business or do a double major as well. Maybe having a Psychology degree can make it more difficult because of the lack of business experience and classes, so definitely try to balance that out and that could help in making it more stable to find a job. Ultimately it is your choice but I would research and see what would strengthen your position in the business field with a Psychology degree.

I hope this helps!

I wish you the best!
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Kimberly’s Answer

You can definitely obtain a job with Psychology degree in the business world! For me, I work in HR and absolutely love it. I started off obtaining undergrad in psychology then my Masters in HR. You can also become an I/O psychologist. They focus more on researching why certain behaviors or motives happen in the business world. I recommend researching that field a little more if you are interested. What drove me to HR was the ability to interact within a company and the employees. Figure out your strengths in the psychology field to determine which business psych field you would enjoy more.
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Judith’s Answer

I studied psychology in college and university and I find in helps me in my job in business. I find that it helps understanding clients and even managing employees that are on my team. It can also help in marketing in helping determine the best campaigns for clients
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David’s Answer

Hi Christina! Yes: Psychology can definitely be a positive and a real benefit if you want to work in marketing disciplines: an understanding of human behavior is key to work in marketing insight, consumer behavior and other areas in marketing, such as testing and personalization.

If you want to work in marketing, then ideally you should seek to augment your knowledge by gaining some experience working in a marketing department. I started my degree studying both Psychology and Marketing and I see no reason why this should be a barrier if you have a passion to work in this field. I hope that this is helpful and I wish you luck!
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Latoya’s Answer

I have a master’s degree in psychology which a concentration in organizational development and I work for a fortune 500 company. There are many departments where a psychology degree can work in your advantage. Marketing and Human Resources are two of the most common. However, many companies have organizational consultant roles, and corporate social responsibility roles. It is also a good idea to highlight some specific business related courses you took in college on your resume.
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Sheri’s Answer

A: Yes! I have a Psychology degree and I am currently a professional recruiter in the technology industry. My Psychology degree gave me skills to assess and coach individuals as they go through their job searches and career changes. There are also certain discipline of Psychology, like "industrial and organizational psychology" that focus on the science of human behavior relating to work and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations and individuals in their places of work as well as the individual's work-life more generally. This is a great field of study to prepare you for any People Team or Human Resources field: Recruiting, HR Business Partner, Organization and Talent Success, or People Operations.  

- Katie Campbell (Box)
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Will’s Answer

I'm passing along an answer from one of my colleagues:

"Hi!! Psychology is such an interesting field and it can lead to many Careers.

Psychology + HR: can lead to Careers in Human Resource Management where you could become either a Recruiter or a Human Resource Business partner. These require interacting with Employees and Business Leaders so your psychology degree will help in reading people and their strengths and blindspots which is extremely valued in business. Your first role in HR could be starting as an intern and then working your way up. Once you graduate You could also apply to rotational programs, these are programs with mini-stints of a few months across different areas of HR that a lot of reputable companies (try Unilever, GE, Google)

Psychology + Marketing: can lead to careers in marketing, having a good read of how people absorb information helps you craft marketing strategies for any company. You will need to understand Business and product also to be a good marketer. In tech companies you could start as an Associate or Marketing associate, and work your way up to lead the marketing function a few years down the line. Marketing also has different specializations - Brand Management, Communications, Event marketing(look up Google's Job section for marketing roles, it'll give you a good clue of what they look for in a marketing grad)

Good luck!"
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Darlene’s Answer

Great question! I had the same one while I was pursing my Psychology degree at Montclair State University. When I entered the university, I wanted to be a Psychologist, but as I continued, I started to think about pursing corporate business opportunities as well. In my junior year, I focused all my elective courses on business and organizational psychology - the study of people in the workforce.

After my graduation, I took a role as a Human Resources Specialist. I worked in that capacity for 2 years, gaining valuable business experience, and then took another job at a larger company in Human Resources where I focused on Learning & Development and Organizational Development. At that point I wanted to shift my focus to Marketing. I found myself if various marketing roles, and then settled into the Technology space in a marketing capacity where I built skills in Product Marketing, Customer Marketing and eventually Digital Marketing. It is here that I grew my potential as a digital marketer in a technology company.

The company I am with now offered continued education for free! I recently received a mini-MBA certificate in Digital Marketing from Rutgers Business School - all online and after my normal work hours, while maintaining a household and 2 children. It is all reasonably achievable.

My Psychology degree gave me a good foundation for the importance of continued education, an 'in' into a company in an HR role, and there - it all unwound perfectly into a strong career. Stick to your guns and don't doubt your decisions. Getting the foundation is good - and everything can be modified an tailored to your liking as you progress.

Good luck!
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Mike’s Answer

Hi Christina - While I don't have a Psych Degree, I started off in the Insurance Industry about 14 years ago with a BS in Political Theory & English. In the insurance field at least, companies are looking for candidates that are capable of learning the industry and once you've done that, I'm sure a psych degree would be a huge asset in a number of ways...with the two biggest ones being sales and leadership roles. I think applying your knowledge of how the human mind works could be a great way in connecting with coworkers and customers. Your ability to identify how people are motivated and also provide empathy would be a great quality of a leader too! Good Luck!
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David’s Answer

Absolutely! I think its all about how you connect the two disciplines.

For example.

I work in digital marketing. One of the most important aspects of my role is analyzing and understanding consumer behavior. The more I learn, the more I see the connections between how consumers behave and how consumers think/feel. Each person's personal psychology is directly related to how they shop and what they buy.

My wife has a psychology degree and has worked in HR for 10+ years. She's experienced a similar connection between human behavior and how they act as professionals.

I'm sure the same connections exist in other areas and - if i'm being honest - understanding human psychology would probably make you more effective in most roles. Having an idea of what type of person might look for an investment manager (risk averse, conservative, prepared) could help you tailor your messages to their subconscious needs and land that account or make them feel more at ease. Understanding a persons internal drivers - their goals and aspirations - could make it easier for you to sell them their new house.

The real key is identifying those connections, working through them, and being able to go into interviews and explain how your psychology degree is a major asset, not a negative.
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Monica’s Answer

I can definitely relate! I have a psych degree and explored moving into getting my masters/PhD in Psych vs. going into Law. The great thing about having a psych degree is the application of the skill sets you learn can be applied to more fields than you think post graduation. I am currently in the tech field, focused on partnerships and sales. The critical thinking, ability to work effectively with people, understand problem solving at its root and applying a strategic mindset has helped me shape my career path in many ways. In a nutshell, a degree in Psychology can be very rewarding, but it will also give you the foundation to explore other careers in multiple area's.
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