Finding a career in your major can sometimes be a challenge for college students. But, two psychology professors at American International College in Springfield have developed different learning activities designed to raise student awareness of career options related to psychology and also the behaviors and expectations of employers.

Sandra Sego, Ph.D., of West Springfield and Anne Stuart, Ph.D., of Palmer, recently presented, “What can I do as a psych major? Career Exploration in an Introduction to the Major Course” at the Atlantic Coast Teaching of Psychology conference in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The two professors shared activities they use in their Foundations of Psychology course to help students explore career options.

"Many students do not see how a bachelor’s degree in psychology can lead to a professional career and may feel unqualified for the job market upon graduation," Sego said. "In an attempt to strengthen student preparedness for their careers, we have built career exploration into our introduction to the major course."

Stuart said, within the course, they designed active learning activities, many of which require students to explore the education, licensure, and experience requirements for several careers. "Over the course of the semester, students narrow their focus on two career options to be explored in more depth. Students are required to present the information about one career option as a poster to their classmates and the other as an oral presentation to their classmates. These activities allow students to not only learn about many different career options that they might not otherwise investigate, but also develop their oral and written communication skills," she said.

The professors designed several activities and experiences for students to learn about the expectations of employers. One such activity is to have students work in groups to create a bulletin board about an aspect of the job search process. Through this activity, students not only learn about expectations for dress, behavior, and initiative, but they also develop interpersonal and problem solving skills. Students also get exposure to career experts and others gaining practical experience in the career field. One requirement of the course is for students to attend the talks given by the seniors completing their practicum experiences.

"These presentations demonstrate a wide variety of careers where psychology is used. Guest lectures by individuals in areas such as management or education also allow students to understand that psychology can be applied in many careers, Sego said."