When I started university in 2001, I did not intend to major in psychology. My plan was to start out in a 3-year Bachelor of Arts degree, get my feet on the ground, and then move into an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in my quest to earn a PhD in kinesiology. Like many, my career trajectory was not at all what I had expected.
I still love the field of kinesiology, but along my way, I became fascinated with psychological science. A large part of this was due to phenomenal mentors who helped me to better understand the questions I was (and still am!) truly passionate about.
This book is written in thanks to those mentors—I’m aware that not everyone meets the right mentor at the right time to help clarify possible career paths. By compiling chapters written by experts across Canada, I’m hopeful this book might be the right resource at the right time for future psychological scientists who are finding their own career paths.
I’m going to give away the ending to this book before we start. What can you do with training in psychology? I have 2 answers to this question—one more general, and one more specific.
The general answer is: a lot. As you will learn about in Chapter 1, employers desire attributes including:
- analytic and quantitative skills
- problem-solving skills
- written and oral communication
Evidence-based psychology programs all explicitly include content related to these attributes. For example,
- Statistics courses teach skills in data collection, analysis, management, and reporting.
- Methods courses teach how to design a study to test a hypothesis while carefully considering issues related to sample size, replicability, confounds, and generalizability.
- Students in psychology learn to search for, interpret, and apply scholarly research.
- Many students also engage in writing, oral presentations, ethics training, and data collection as a research assistant.
These experiences all build valuable and marketable skills for careers both in and out of academia. Thus, one strategy when looking for jobs is to go look at job requirements in a posting—you might find that you meet the requirements for more jobs that you initially expect.
The more specific answer is based on my opinion and experience. I recommend working backwards when looking for specific career paths. Find examples of what could be your one-day “dream job.” You might do this by going to the websites of your favourite organizations. Identify current employees in roles that you one day would like to have. Using tools like LinkedIn, identify the career trajectory that brought them to those jobs. For example, it’s not likely that someone begins their career as CEO of Microsoft. What career experiences helped those professionals to develop the expertise needed for your some-day dream jobs? Once you’ve identified some of these key career milestones, you can begin identifying opportunities that are available to you where you are now to help you get there.
Throughout this book you will learn more about career search strategies, career opportunities related to psychology, and just some of the many ways that psychological science has been applied to opportunities and challenges facing our society. I want to highlight that this book is not grounded in “pop-psychology.” Indeed, many harms have been caused by the misunderstanding and misapplication of psychology. For this reason, this book emphasizes the rigorous application of scholarly work to maximize benefits and minimize harm at the front lines.
As with any science, the discipline of psychology continues to evolve. I hope that in the next 10 years, we know significantly more than we know now and that our methods and applications will be stronger than they are today. Thank you in advance to the students reading this who will go on to do great work, building healthier and stronger communities.
I want to thank the contributors to this book: I’m inspired by the many people who dedicated their time, effort, and expertise towards this open access resource so that this knowledge can be freely shared. Finally, I want to express sincere thanks to the students who participated in the development of this book by sharing their feedback and insights–thank you!
Su Hyun Lim
Olena Anna Pankiw
A note on revisions: As with any new book, and any electronic source, there may be a time when a link is broken, or a typo is found. There may also be ways for us to increase the accessibility of the book based on the experiences of readers (e.g., editing how AltText was used, etc). In instances like these, please email Meghan Norris at firstname.lastname@example.org and revisions will be made directly into this version.
Substantive content changes will not be made in this “live” version. Any new versions of this book completed in collaboration with Meghan Norris will be published as a new edition. This version of the book, though widely applicable, focuses on the Canadian context. It is hoped that others might also adapt this source for their contexts, providing reference to this original source. Suggestions for citation format can be found at the end of each chapter.
Please reference this chapter as
Norris, M. E. (2019). Foreward. In M. E. Norris (Ed.), The Canadian Handbook for Careers in Psychological Science. Kingston, ON: eCampus Ontario. Licensed under CC BY NC 4.0. Retrieved from https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/psychologycareers/front-matter/foreword/