APA Promotes Non-Academic Employment Opportunities

'As someone interested in pursuing a nontraditional career in psychology, I feel that I have to hide my plans from my professors, and sometimes even from other students.' These words, written by a graduate student in scientific psychology, seem to represent the feelings of many students who are about to complete graduate school and begin their careers. In response to such frustrations and to the dwindling number of jobs in academe, the Task Force on Non-Academic Employment for Scientific Psychologists held its first meeting last December. The goal of the Task Force, which was established by the Board of Scientific Affairs, is to increase employment opportunities for scientific psychologists outside of the academic environment. At the December meeting, the group discussed the steps necessary for reaching this goal.

The Task Force agreed that one important objective is to communicate to employers the skills and expertise that scientific psychologists possess. The group plans to collect examples of contributions made by scientific psychologists and to publicize these successes. Task Force members also intend to educate industry officials about the value of psychological research and then to develop field-placements or internships in industrial settings.

In order to prepare graduate students for possible nonacademic careers, the Task Force recognized the need to change university faculty attitudes toward employment in nontraditional settings. In the past, students have been strongly encouraged by professors and advisors to pursue careers in the traditional academic setting. However, given the decreasing number of jobs in academe, it would now be useful for curricula to include field experience and training in the skills that are in demand by non-academic employers. Another way to prepare current and future graduate students would be through mentorship programs.

The Task Force agreed that the earlier potential scientific psychologists are reached, the better, and suggested informing undergraduates, high school students, and elementary school students about the career possibilities for scienti-fic psychologists in non-academic areas.

The Task Force on Non-Academic Employment for Scientific Psychologists is chaired by Drs. Gary and Judy Olson and includes representatives from academia, industry, and the APA Science Student Council. The members of the Task Force are Mary Carol Day, PhD, Celia B. Fisher, PhD, Wayne Gray, PhD, Kathleen Kremer, Judith Orasanu, PhD, Peter G. Polson, PhD, Harry T. Reis, PhD, Naomi Schwartz, Joy Stapp, PhD, and Lynn Streeter, PhD.

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