My Future Plans May Have Been Flipped – #5

When I initially started this internship, my goal was grad school. I wanted a PhD and thought that applicable research was what would get me to my goals. I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and help people and I thought the only way to do that is through getting a PhD, spending 7 more years in grad school for the possibility, not including the gap year I would have to take to get more experience.

Recently, my lab manager’s position expired and she left the lab. We met outside for dinner with more of my research team and that was when I realized that I forced myself in a box for what I wanted/could do. When I decided on psychology, my dad pushed being a professor or psychiatrist and neither of those were me, so we met in the middle with a PhD. Upon talking to my former lab manager, I realized there is more you can do with a psych degree.

I felt forced to get a PhD because my parents thought a psychology degree was a waste. I had worked in a research lab before and thought I could tolerate it for a few years to reach my goal. It wasn’t until I worked in this lab and spoke with more grad students than I had in my entire life that I realized this wasn’t for me. Grad school is 6-7 years of research, where there is so much pressure to publish then a dissertation that you could potentially not succeed with. For what? I would put my life on hold for another 9 years before doing what I want and that is working with people directly, I don’t care to have my name in a journal.

So I spoke to more grad students, lab managers and even the professor whose lab I work for. This pointed me to social work. An MSW in social work is 1-2 years and the University of Michigan has the top social work program in the country. Just by networking with the people through my program, I was able to see a whole new life/career path that I have available. I enjoy the research I am doing now, but the most productive thing from this internship had to be opening my eyes from what I thought I wanted to all the other possibilities I have.

One thought on “My Future Plans May Have Been Flipped – #5

  • August 9, 2018 at 10:47 am


    Thanks for publishing these reflections on your summer experience – while I’m sorry that technical difficulties prevented me from getting to comment on all of them throughout your experience, it was really fun and interesting to read them one after another and get a whole picture of the learning that occurred through these few weeks.

    I love how you’ve discovered the agency and empowerment that comes with a liberal arts education – your psych degree is such an incredibly adaptable and flexible tool to leverage. It’s really important to think about your liberal arts education from a position of strength – an individual who can understand and decode the thoughts and behavioral patterns of people brings enormous value and benefit to just about any industry!

    I’m also really impressed at your resourcefulness in gathering information to come to a well-researched decision. You leveraged the network that was available to you and asked for honest and frank feedback on their experiences – this experience and the skills of interpersonal communication that you honed through the decision-making process will really serve you well in the future. I really encourage you to consider and reflect on the work you’ve done throughout your internship – while research may not be the explicit field or work you want to pursue, you’ve developed an array of skills through the work of research that can be adapted to fit the needs of multiple industries. What are the skills that you had to use to achieve success, and how may those skills manifest in different types of work?

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences – I’m glad that I got the chance to read them! I really encourage you to stop by the Hub and chat with us about next steps if you’re really considering an MSW as a pathway – a couple of our coaches have earned degrees from the MSW program at UM, so they’d be wonderful people to connect with!



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