Humans Behaving Blog

PSY Paths: Melvin Clark, Class of 2014

Posted on March 30, 2017 by Paul Silvia

Our PSY graduates go everywhere. Some settle down close to home; others head off to the other side of the planet. And a few end up in between.

This week, we’re checking in with Melvin Clark, a recent PSY graduate who is in grad school for Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology in New York City.

What was your path here at UNCG?

I attended UNCG from August 2010 to December 2014. My undergraduate major was Psychology and I completed a minor in Spanish. Though my major did not undergo many changes, the path I thought I would take did. Initially I thought I wanted to do clinical psychology, and then I was on a pre-med track because I wanted to go into psychiatry. I realized this wasn’t a good fit, so I modified my career path to pursue a degree in Christian Counseling. This was only temporary, and I found myself completely uncertain about what I wanted to do after graduation. To remedy this, I studied abroad for a semester in Caceres, Spain. I studied abroad for 7 months to become fluent in Spanish so when I graduated I would at least have a marketable skill to find employment.

While I was at UNCG I participated in a variety of clubs and organizations. I was Hall Council president in Moore-Strong, an IPC Peer Academic Liaison, a Resident Advisor in both Moore-Strong and Phillips-Hawkins, a member of the NBS Gospel Choir, a University Marshal and Co-Assistant Chief Marshal, an undergraduate research assistant in the Caminos research lab (Dr. Gaby Stein), a Lloyd International Honors student, a member of Psi Chi, and a Spartan of Promise. I graduated in December of 2014 Magna Cum Laude with International and Disciplinary Honors.

 

What was your path after UNCG? What are you doing now?

After graduation, I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to Study Industrial-Organizational Psychology, but since I learned of the field so late in my academic career I wasn’t prepared to enter a graduate program. After graduation, I worked at Gilbarco Veeder-Root through the staffing agency TRC. During this time, I worked full-time and made observations of my work environment that would later be helpful in my graduate school applications. I also attended an annual conference for Industrial Organizational Psychologists held by SIOP (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology). It was at this conference where I realized I really wanted to pursue a degree in I/O. During the time I worked, I studied for the GRE and prepared my application materials, which meant studying and writing during my breaks and after work. I applied to Master’s programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology at East Carolina University, Xavier University, George Mason, New York University, and Teachers College of Columbia. I ultimately decided to enroll at NYU due to the focus of their instruction, class size, and alumni relationships. I am still in my first year in the two-year program, and due to the applied nature of the program I have a pretty solid grasp on how I/O science is applied in work contexts. I am also fairly certain that I will do well in the job market after graduation.

 

We have a lot of students interested in I-O psychology? What advice would you give to our current PSY majors to get prepared and be competitive?

To be competitive for admission to an I/O program I would advise students to do a few things. 

Since I/O Psychology is still a psychological science I recommend participating in at least one research lab. This will give students an understanding of the scientific process, which will be essential in graduate study. 

I would also highly recommend completing a thesis, as you might do in a disciplinary honors project. This will demonstrate writing ability and personal application of the scientific process to a hypothesis of your choosing. 

I advise students to take the Intro to I/O Psychology course. When I was a student this course was only listed in the Management department, but the textbook we used in my graduate level course in Intro to I/O was the same, and the course is a great survey of the science. 

It would also be helpful to take a couple business courses, as lack of business acumen is a shortcoming of more than a few I/O Psychologists and Practitioners. For many graduate programs, especially those that are more applied than theoretical, work experience will be essential. I cannot say with certainty that I would have been accepted to the programs I was accepted to without the year of full time work experience I had when I applied. Programs such as Teachers College at Columbia explicitly advises students not to apply without at least a year of work experience. Thus, it is essential to have some work experience and be able to explain features of a work environment and how I/O science (at the level that you understand it) could be applied to that context. 

Depending on the program, it may be helpful to have either some international experience, or some evidence of cultural awareness, as many programs admit students with a variety of experiences from many different countries. 

Finally, it is necessary to have as high a GPA as possible and high GRE scores (especially writing and quantitative sections). 

SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) is a fantastic resource for preparing for graduate study. The website has a searchable database of schools and programs (http://my.siop.org/GTP), their requirements and average candidate scores, as well as salary information for practitioners and academics.

That’s it! : )

I know that I have provided a lot of information and it may seem like a lot to do, but the pursuit of all these things will not only make you a competitive candidate, but it will enrich your undergraduate experience, and give you a better idea of what topics in I/O resonate most with you. 

I wish all of you all the best. You attend a fantastic university with great professors that can help you immensely. Use them as resources in your academic pursuit and if you have any other questions, you may contact me at Melvin.clark@alumni.uncg.edu.

Many thanks, Melvin—enjoy the snow up there!


“Humans Behaving” is an informal blog run by the UNCG Department of Psychology devoted to matters large and small, from humble happenings to departmental history to our students’ many stories and successes. Have an idea for a story? Are you one of our graduates with a story to tell? Contact Paul Silvia at p_silvia@uncg.edu.


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