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Does Name Matter?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by TiptoeConqueror, 02.12.13.

  1. TiptoeConqueror

    TiptoeConqueror

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    Has anyone felt that they have been at a disadvantage in terms of pre- or post-doc interrnships or jobs because of the PhD program they attended not having a well-known reputation as being a solid program (even if it's unfounded)? For example, the average person may hear Ivy League and think those are the top psychology PhD programs even when it's not necessarily true. I'm asking because I'm feeling really overwhelmed with the prospect of making decisions as to where to go right now.
  2. ResearchGirlie

    ResearchGirlie

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    I know that I've had advantages (fellowships, internship interviews, practicum, etc) by going to a big name grad program. It's likely undeserved but it does happen. For better or worse name does matter.

    ETA: I don't think this is necessarily limited to university name. A big name advisor in your area likely opens the same doors, or more, than university name. I don't think you should suffer through a place you won't like because of a name, but it shouldn't be ruled out completely.
  3. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    I've seen/heard of the "brand name" of the university coming into play, for both good and ill, during discussions related to internships and post-doc fellowships. As for me personally, I've directly and indirectly been told at various times that my application has been initially moved near the top of review piles because of my advisor's name and/or relationship with the training faculty.

    Ultimately, though, your school and/or advisor aren't going to get you offers in and of themselves. Additionally, a top-tier/strong applicant from just about any program will generally shine through.
  4. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    I think internship sites are probably more open to giving an applicant a shot from an unknown /lesser known program than a fellowship or job search committee. They know that every applicant is looking at 12-15+ other placements, so they need to keep their options open. If you can show some productivity while in school (publications, etc), get good letters, and do a bit of networking....being unknown is less of an issue. You need to come from an APA-acred. program, as things get dicey otherwise.

    Post-Docs/Fellowships care more about your internship and where you are now in your training experience, though your training program still matters to some people. A job will care more about your most recent training (usually post-doc/fellowship) than things before it. As long as you went to an APA-acred. program & internship AND passed your EPPP....then jobs should give you a fair review. Your university and mentorship matters more if you are looking to be an academic researcher, but less for clinical positions.

    "Name" programs mean little to nothing if you have a crappy CV. A name program gets you in the door for an interview, you still need to prove yourself to get the offer.
  5. serotonin

    serotonin

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    I think in general one has to work significantly harder & produce more coming from a non-big-name place to receive the same consideration for an internship/post doc/job as someone coming from a big-name place.
  6. LM02

    LM02 Senior Member

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    Just remember that a big name to a layperson and a big name to someone in the field may be quite different. Of course, they're not always mutually exclusive (e.g., Yale is a big name in both spheres), but there are plenty of examples where a school with a fantastic professional reputation in psychology may not be recognized as such by your cousins, friends, parents, milkman, etc.

    I think the reputation of a school within the field is much more important than the reputation of the school to the general public.
  7. LETSGONYR

    LETSGONYR

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    As someone from a small, relatively unknown program... I'd have to say that I don't think my program being unknown has hindered me at all. I have had excellent practica and training opportunities, and am hoping to match for internship next week. While I clearly haven't applied to postdoc and/or jobs yet, I know people from my program who have gotten many postdoc interview offers, who have landed extremely competitive neuro postdocs, and who have gotten employment in several of the most well known hospitals in the country.

    I think your opportunities are what you make of them. As other have said, "name" may help others stare at your CV for a few extra seconds, but there are plenty of great opportunities out there for people from "unknown" programs, and coming from a "name" doesn't help you if you don't have the substance to back it up.
  8. kyril

    kyril

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    i'd take a slightly different spin and say that coming from a school with a poorer reputation is a significant hurdle (like not APA accredited, or has a reputation for overly arge cohorts, etc). my impression is that, if you come from an accredited program not many have heard of, like at a small state school, it's not the check + you may get coming from a big reputation school, but it's not a huge mark against you. but coming from an Alliant, even if you yourself are an excellent student and candidate,can be a huge hurdle, especially out of one's geographic area.
  9. Pragma

    Pragma

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    A little side commentary about mentors :D

    One thing that I think is kind of funny - a lot of the "big name" mentors I have never heard of. It is specialty specific to some extent, but even then, we tend to flock to the ones that are more local.

    For example, when I go to INS, aside from maybe seeing a handful of people I recognize from some papers I read or that mentors had done work with, I've really got no idea who most of the "big names" are. I am very familiar with my local network of neuropsychologists, and was trained by a very 'big name" locally. But I would guess that if I ever were to sit down and speak with AA of T4C, they might not have any idea who my mentor was. I might not know theirs either unless they do research in an area I read about.

    I think there might be fewer "big names" out there than we sometimes assume - or at least perhaps not as many with international and national reputations unless you get really specific about a research area.

    For me, the networking and mentoring all served me well for staying local. But I am not sure if I wanted to go to, say CA (just an example, would never happen) if those LORs would really mean all that much unless there was a personal connection.

    Side commentary complete :oops:
  10. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Pretty much this, which I did a horrible job of explaining above in my other post. If you attend a "traditional" program, even if it's small and lesser-known, the odds of it actually hurting you don't seem to be that great (unless a site has had bad experiences with individuals specifically from your program in the past).

    And I also whole-heartedly agree with Pragma's statements. My advisor, for example, is relatively well-known in my geographic area. He also tends to be a pretty affable fellow, so he's on friendly terms with many other neuropsych folks, but as to how well he's known outside my region...not sure.

    Edit: although now I'm a bit curious (and avoiding work)...I wonder if Pragma, T4C, erg, JS, and any of the other neuropsych geeks will end up doing an advisor name swap at some point...see if we can all guess which member worked with which mentor. :D
  11. Pragma

    Pragma

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    I probably wouldn't bite because it would probably give me away.

    But I'd also note that my neuropsych mentoring came from a different place than my primary mentoring. Perhaps folks who focused on neuropsych for more of their graduate education would be a little more familiar than me. But at least with the neuro subfield, I do have to say that because so many people are involved in clinical work, the level of research productivity I see isn't as high as I see in other subfields where many focus even more on research output. Obviously, there are exceptions there, but just an observation from my vantage point (having come from a really well-oiled machine in grad school).
  12. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    That's funny, I've had the complete opposite experience - people are known nationally within their specialty area and no one knows anyone locally unless they overlap in their work. Pretty much any psychologist I talk to at our usual conference knows both my mentors. Virtually every internship site I'm looking at has someone on faculty who knows one or both, has collaborated with them at some point, etc. Heck, I've met many of them myself, some have come to visit our lab, etc. In contrast, many of the folks in the local VAs have no idea who they are.

    I think there may be differences in institutional culture. For instance, I haven't been to a regional or state conference since undergrad - we really only attend national/international conferences. Networking is done nationally (something I'm banking on helping out when I apply for internships!). Not that you ignore people doing similar work just because they are local, but in my experiences the focus is generally on getting national recognition and who cares what the person down the road thinks.

    My take is that there are a fair number of "big names" within specialty areas that help when doing things within that area (internship and post-doc certainly, probably less so for faculty jobs). Then there are the cross-field "big names" where any psychologist worth their salt is going to know the name immediately (e.g. Barlow, Lilienfeld, Joiner, etc.) that will likely help across the board.

    As others have said though - CV seems to trump most of these things. These things may provide an "edge" to get you looked at if you otherwise wouldn't, but from what I have seen these things don't weigh in too heavily beyond that.
  13. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah there are definitely a few huge names. I also can see the national/international only concept (depending on your subfield) - that was a little bit more of what it was like with my primary mentor because of the scale and specificity of the research (particularly with large grants on board).

    I think neuro may be a little unique. I get the sense that people tend to set up little fiefdoms once they plant themself at an institution. I happen to be in a big city with a few of these, so that could be part of the local emphasis. But I'd also note that a lot of neuro folks do private/forensic practice, in which case knowing your local friends and competition becomes really important. I got a good sense for that when I linked up with a private practice - different mindset than an institutional setting. The people in your locale have a lot to do with your day-to-day in that regard. But I'd imagine the focus may shift more nationally during the boarding process for me.
  14. ResearchGirlie

    ResearchGirlie

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    I don't think that it will hinder people, I just think that name can sometimes give people an extra boost that can be very helpful. Certain schools have track records for things like applying for NRSAs, NSFs, internship spots etc. Coming from one of those big schools and/or Prof BigName's lab can very much help.

    I'll also say that I think many times it's probably an undeserved extra boost :rolleyes:
  15. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    I've had a lot of mentors. As far as neuropsych supervision in my training, I had 10 neuropsych mentors/supervisors 7 were board certified. 2 were former ins presidents (neither of whom were board certified). Of the nine, only one has crossover international fame though several of the others are well known within their areas. If we're talking research mentorship including non neuropsych are professors then I've worked with three that have varying levels of crossover international fame, technically 4, but the 4th was only a 6 month research rotation in internship and I didn't publish anything with them. I am including people in my early career status as faculty are assigned mentors
    Last edited: 02.12.13
  16. NotTheHoff

    NotTheHoff On Internship

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    Considering a supervisor at the site I'm matched at this year had explicitly expressed interest in establishing a relationship with my program (not in the same region), I'd say the name of my school helped at the beginning. None of that really matters once you get to the interview stage, though.
  17. Pragma

    Pragma

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    To actually answer the OPs question, I'd say it varies a lot. As others have mentioned, it won't guarantee you anything, but could help you get an interview.

    I recall at least one internship site that loved students from my program. They had such great experiences with previous folks and often took our students.

    I'd say clinical supervisors are more important for internship. I had people flat out tell me on internship interviews how much they trusted my mentor and could tell that person thought highly of me (i.e., these personal connections/networking help). Similar story for postdoc (I was told letters/conversations from trusted supervisors were the most important thing at multiple interview sites). In fact, I'd say it was my clinical connections (not my program) that really got me through the hoops into desirable internship/postdoc positions all while remaining geographically restricted. But of course, had I botched the interviews, the story could be a lot different!
  18. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Good thoughts Pragma. And, on the botched interview front, I've done that more times than not. I suck at interviewing. At my postdoc, I was told later that my supervisor thought I was a bit strange on the interview, but that he knew my previous supervisors very well and he trusted their judgement. So, for me, I've been very lucky to have worked with the people that I've worked with. I'd say who you work with matters and how you perform matters so that you can get good recommendations from those people and I'd also be conscious of paying it forward.
    Last edited: 02.12.13
  19. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    Lol. While most of my mentors/supervisors have been neuro/rehab, I actually got a late start in the field compared to most of the neuro students nowadays. It was mostly happenstance that my first two supervisors were neuropsychologists (1 of 2 boarded), as I was doing school-based assessment for both my clinical and research work. It was only later that I completely crossed over to the dark-side, go figure. :D Once I got to internship and fellowship there was no turning back, and I lucked out with being able to work with some truly brilliant neuropsychologists. Some days my mantra was simply, "Nod your head and don't say anything stupid...Nod your head and don't say anything stupid..."

    I've met JS...and I am not shocked he came off as a bit strange. :laugh: I kid, I kid!
  20. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Ah, but it's true :)


    I have the nod your head and don't say anything stupid experience frequently (e.g., recent MRI physics course. . .).

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