What have you been doing since graduating?
This past July I began working as a Consultant for a small, entrepreneurial company, Shaker Consulting Group. Shaker specializes in developing highly customized online prescreen assessments, typically termed Virtual Job Tryouts®, for various retail, manufacturing, and financial services companies.
Our assessments enable our clients and their respective applicants to have a two-way exchange of information. Through completing the experience, the applicant gains insight into the company's culture, the opportunities and challenges presented by the position for which they are applying, and the benefits of working for the company. At the same time the system is collecting valuable data which has been validated to predict new hires' performance. Thus far I have been involved in developing system content, creating scoring, analyzing data, conducting focus groups, job observations and interviews, and participating in project meetings and system training sessions.
How would you describe your transition from school to "the real world"? Was it a shock?
Overall, the transition from grad school to the real world has been pretty smooth. One of the biggest adjustments has been speaking with and conveying confidence and credibility across key personnel with no statistical (let alone I/O) background.
These communications necessitate a different approach from presenting findings to an academic-oriented audience. As a graduate student, it is possible to become so immersed with other similarly trained folks that you begin to make assumptions about others' understanding of basic statistical concepts (for example, what a standard deviation represents). So, one thing I’ve learned is how to present findings in a manner tailored to the client/audience so that it is not perceived as insulting but also demonstrates a clear message around the value of our product.
What was your favorite thing about Auburn's I/O program?
Auburn is a great place to be a graduate student! One of my favorite things during my time there was the flexibility to create your own path and pursue your own academic/applied interests. Also, having our beautiful campus, great library/services, rich school tradition, and amazing weather provides an excellent backdrop to your graduate development.
What is your current location? Do you like it there?
I live in University Heights, OH (a suburb of Cleveland). I like it so far, although the winter weather has not officially set in yet. This region is definitely a big change from 'Bama and Texas, which is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I plan to make the most of it.
Of your experiences in school, which do you think were the most helpful and/or related to your current position?
My internship at ARI-Ft. Benning was the most related to what I do currently. It allowed me to get my hands on "real world" data in addition to experience interacting with other consultants and end users.
What advice do you have to offer incoming and current I/O students?
Perhaps more than any graduate seminar, I feel that getting involved in and/or leading projects (both research and applied) will provide the best preparation for an applied consulting job. While the coursework is necessary to build foundational knowledge, carrying out the work firsthand can provide an appreciation for its practical application. Doing so will also help you develop all of the other skills you need to be an effective consultant (e.g., project management, analyzing data, presenting, interacting with others as a part of a team).
This feature originally appeared inThe Auburn I/Opener, the newsletter of the Auburn University Psychology Department's Industrial/Organizational Psychology Ph.D. program. Special thanks to Marianna Horn, Editor-in-Chief and Dr. Malissa Clark , Faculty Advisor.