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Trying to switch into a research psychology but feeling stuck

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by e222888, Aug 27, 2017.

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  1. e222888

    e222888

    3
    0
    Aug 14, 2017
    Hi all, so I got my Bachelor's in accounting but after several years of working in the field, I realized that I really hate it and that it's not what I want to do with my life. Once I graduated and actually began working in the real world, I realized I was way more interested in the psychological aspects of life: observing people and figuring out why they are the way they are (from my co-workers to criminals), how coming from certain cultures affect one's developments and beliefs, and studying success (such as how to maximize efficiency in the workplace). I would spend my free time obsessively reading books and scholarly articles, watching documentaries, and getting into lengthy discussions with others about psychology.
    I've been researching careers in psychology for about a year now and concluded that it's really the field I want to go into. I eventually want to get my PhD in social or I/O psych, and after ideally work for corporations, government institutions, or in academia. So I quit my accounting job recently and decided to take intro psychology courses at my local community college; unfortunately, I never took a psychology class during undergrad so I have to start at the bottom.

    I know that I need research experience to apply to a PhD program, but that's where I'm having a lot of problems; I don't know how and where to find it. There is a university (the nearest one from me) about an hour away from me that has research labs, but most seem to only accept their own university students for RAs. I don't even know where I can volunteer to get relevant experience in social or I/O psychology. I've tried asking my CC psych professors for advice in finding relevant experience, but most of them are in clinical and don't know or have told me to just volunteer at a mental hospital. For those who have gone the research route, is it still worth volunteering in a mental hospital and/or counseling positions even though it's not the field I want to go into? Some have also told me to volunteer to work with troubled children and victims of physical abuse, but I don't know if that's a good idea since I'm not interested in working in the clinical field. Am I being too picky? I just don't want to spend my time (especially since it's not paid) doing something and find out it didn't even contribute to my career and grad school prospects. I have heard though that research students do clinical stuff as well (and vice versa), so there's that as well...
    To be honest, I don't really know who to turn to for advice anymore, as I've exhausted all the psychology contacts I know of, and I don't know what to believe from all the stuff I'm reading online. Should I go back to a 4 year institution and pursue my second bachelors in psych, or stay in community college (just take all the basic psych courses) and then go get a masters first? I know masters are not required to apply for PhD programs, but since I don't have much experience in psychology, I figured it might give me extra knowledge about the field. Also, I see a lot more job opportunities open to masters than those with a psych BA.
    I also heard of post bacc programs that some 4 year institutions offer where people with an unrelated bachelors can take undergrad psych classes and get a certification, but after researching them it seems like the courses are the same ones I'm taking at my CC, just a lot more expensive. However, most of them do seem to offer students rich research opportunities, which my CC doesn't offer. If I do decide to do a post bacc though, I'd have to move cities and spend a lot of money for moving and tution.
    I also know that many universities (at least in the US) offer summer research programs to outside students which I was interested in doing. But most of them state in their requirements that applicants have to be an undergrad at a 4 year institution and/or don't possess a previous bachelors degree, which I obviously don't fit in. Reading this kind of crushed my hopes, and now I'm afraid that it's too late, that I'll never be able to find research experience and get into a PhD program due to my lack of experience and lack of research opportunities.
    Lastly, because I still have to pay bills, I need to find a paying job. Since I'm taking classes at my CC, ideally I'm looking for a part time one. What kind of entry level jobs do you recommend I could take up while in CC that's kind of related to psychology but doesn't need a BA/higher degree in psychology? Or does it even matter?

    Sorry to make this post so long, but thanks so much for reading through it. I really could use some (good) advice or recommendations for my current situation. Since I'm fairly new to the psychology field, I apologize if I came off naiive or said something really ridiculous sounding.
     
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  3. Temperance

    Temperance 2+ Year Member

    31
    10
    May 27, 2015
    Please forgive me for asking the obvious: Have you contacted the directors of labs related to your area of interest? Unless the university has an explicit policy of not taking outsiders, some labs may be open to having people not part of the university volunteer for experience.
     
  4. lightwater

    lightwater

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    8
    Mar 3, 2017
    Have you tried getting an entry level or even internship specifically in IO or even HR? It may not be academic research, but I've heard real-world IO-type research analyzing workplace data is sometimes sufficient for PhD programs, and definitely for Masters programs.
     
  5. e222888

    e222888

    3
    0
    Aug 14, 2017
    I have tried looking for jobs and internships in IO, but couldn't find any. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place? I don't have any contacts in psychology, so I mainly looked online. A lot of HR jobs (I found, again, online) require applicants to have prior experience, which I don't have either. Perhaps I'm going about the job search wrong?
     
  6. e222888

    e222888

    3
    0
    Aug 14, 2017
    I've contacted 4 labs at the nearest university to me that are working on psychology specialties I'm interested in, and I actually did get a response saying they do take outsiders but they give preference to their own university students first. Should I expand my focus, contact more labs to see if they accept outsiders, and just get research lab experience anywhere, even if it's not in my interest (such as child development labs)?
     
  7. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy 2+ Year Member

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    364
    Dec 4, 2014
    Psychologist
    in general, any research experience is better than no research experience. You'll still learn generalizable skills.
     
  8. lightwater

    lightwater

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    Mar 3, 2017
    If you can't find postings for intern/entry level HR jobs, then maybe it's due to your location. I'm located around NYC/NJ and there are a bunch on indeed, linkedin, even craigslist (this was my previous career before clinical psych). Maybe look directly into local, at least mid sized, corporate offices' websites and check their career page. They may not have the savvy or bucks to post online anywhere other than listed on their own site. Best of luck!
     
  9. EmotRegulation

    EmotRegulation 5+ Year Member

    359
    200
    Apr 11, 2012
    Psychologist
    Faculty
    If there is a university an hour away, also check the business school, as there are often I/O and social folks working in these kinds of programs and would be other avenues for getting research experience. And also keep talking to the faculty in psychology about volunteering. As a faculty member myself, I'm open to volunteers but tend not to take them because there's no accountability (e.g., if someone is taking my lab for a grade, I can fail them if they screw up or don't show up, whereas there are no such accountability features in place for a volunteer). You could also try to find out when office hours are and show up in person. But only do this during scheduled office hours, as you don't want to piss off people who you could be working with.
     

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