Establishing a career in CP: Issues, Challenges, and opportunities

4 years ago
OfflineScot Evans
Scot Evans

At the biennial, we held a roundtable session on this topic and discussed some of the academic and non-academic job options for emerging community psychologists. Early career CPists shared their experiences in finding a job and offered some ideas for establishing a career in the field. If you were a part of this session, or have some thoughts or questions on this topic, use this discussion area to share with other SCRA membes. If you have resources to share, you can post in this forum or upload to the session folder here:


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OfflineSarah Chilenski Sarah Chilenski said 4 years ago

I'll post a bit of what I recall - please add to it andedit...there were many good things said:

QUESTION 1: What kinds of jobs are out there, how do you decidewhat jobs to apply for and to take?

ANSWERS TO QUESTION 1: There are actually quite a lot ofdifferent types of jobs out there, and the best distinction to makebetween jobs is not "tenure track" vs. "non tenure track" Differentjobs come with their own set of challenges, whether it bepublishing, teaching, getting grants, working with clients, orservice (departmental or community service). Academic vs.non-Academic is also not a good distinction between jobs. Need toask a lot of questions and think about what is the best fit foryou.

Also talked about organizational factors... leadership,mentorship, fairness, etc. all affect job quality / job fit.

Seems to be a certain mindset (putting yourself out thee andopening yourself up to whatever opportunities happen to come yourway) that goes along with applying for all kinds of jobs or atleast several similar sounding jobs, that helps people getjobs.

Your priorities of what you do in a job and how you spendyour time may change over time. For example, as you get intoexamining your research questions and doing your work, you may findpublishing more interesting and rewarding compared to those firstone-two years of graduate school.

Know that no decision is ever permanent. You can make achange if something is not working out; don't be afraid to make achange.

QUESTION 2: How did you find your job? Where do I look for ajob?

Postings online (Chronicle, AEA, listserv), standardapplication and interview process.

Mentor helped link with potential opportunities.

Self-directed networking: attending different types ofcommunity meetings, use internet to learn about key organizationsand set up informational interviews, be willing to work for areduced rate to get something started...people can learn about youand trust you and understand the quality of your work products.

Learn/understand/follow the culture of the location in whichyou are looking for a job...

Look for skills in the job description, match on skills noton title. There are no "community psychologist wanted" adds.

Universities and nonprofit or government are all potentialsettings or employers.

Between undergrad and graduate school - could work in anapplied setting or a research setting. If you work in an appliedsetting and then go back to get your phd, you will have to be ableto demonstrate the value-added of research, that you are thinkingcritically about program and context processes. Very intenseapplied work after undergrad, before grand school will scare away afew graduate programs, but those are probably not the ones youwould want to go to.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION NOT DISCUSSED AT SESSION: How do you knowwhen to say "no" in terms of adding a new project or responsibilityonto your plate an early career person?



OfflineMichele Schlehofer Michele Schlehofer said 4 years ago

Hi everyone. We also discussed tips for preparing for theacademic job interview: do research on the school and the area,know a little bit about each of the faculty members in thedepartment (at least know what type of psychologist they are:clinician, community, social, I/O, etc.). Also I think we talkedabout how research and teaching expectations vary across thevarious institutions.

We briefly discussed "where to go from here?" however, I don'tthink we made a final decision. I'm open to ideas. I'm on SPSSI'sEarly Scholars Committee and if we wanted to collaborate with themor do something similar for SCRA I would be happy to get involvedin such an effort.


OfflineZermarie Deacon Zermarie Deacon said 4 years ago

We also discussed the different kinds of jobs out there and theintrinsic rewards of each. For example - a job that has a teachingrequirement for tenure may be very satisfying for someone whoenjoys teaching and prefers that kind of job versus a "publish orperish" kind of environment which may be attractive to others. Theidea being that there are different ways to get what you want. Ifyou want a tenure-track position, but don't want to focus onpublishing, you can find a job that requires a different focus aspart of the tenure process. 

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Post Date:
June 23, 2009
Posted By:
Scot Evans

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