#BulldogOnTheJob: Emily

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Emily Purvis
Major: Psychology (with focus in Industrial/Organizational applications)
Grad Date: December 2013

Organization, title, and a brief synopsis of what you do
Essentia Health, Content Management Specialist. My job is a mix of content management, graphic design, web design, and communication management. I manage the HR related pages of the employee intranet as well as create documents, images, and videos relating to HR topics such as benefits, payroll, retirement, etc. I also develop internal resources to assist the HR department document their processes and streamline their work.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
During my undergraduate in interned in an HR office. That experience helped me be hired as a temp in Essentia’s HR office. Because of my temp role, I then was an excellent candidate for a role that opened up in their call center. While in the call center, I learned many aspects of the HR department, which in turn prepared me for my current role.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
GET INVOLVED! I attended numerous on-campus events and was part of multiple campus groups, some fun and some professional, but all involved getting to know new people and making connections. Networking is essential in a professional career.

ASK QUESTIONS! When you are new in the field there are things you aren’t going to know, just like in a new class. Don’t be afraid to ask how something works or why it’s done that way. Most people are happy to share their knowledge with you!

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Communication is rapidly evolving – having knowledge of coding is becoming more and more essential to a designer’s toolkit. Having to wait for a coder to get back to you can severely delay progress, so if you can at least learn the basics, it will go a long way.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
My degree was in psychology, yet I work in more of a digital communications role that focuses on HR content. Your degree is important, but your experiences are equally important. Make sure you find experiences that match where you want to go in the future or create them within your job where possible. For example, my role in the HR Service Center at Essentia did not include creating job aid documents, but I wanted to create them for some of my processes, so I started creating them in my spare time. My supervisor noticed and liked them, so I made more. That experience directly aligned with my current role and made a huge impact during my interview because I had past work to show them.

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob stories!

Interested in Essentia Health? Check out their employment page.

Exploring Careers in Psychology

By: Logan

Being a psychology major, I am often asked what I aspire to do with my life after graduation. I have put many hours of thought into this, and every day I come up with new ideas or career paths I might be interested in. One of the aspects of psychology I enjoy is the fact you can go in many different directions with it. You can use psychology in a very wide range of careers ranging from mental health and counseling to even applying it in a business setting. In this blog post I will be discussing some of the possible career paths I am interested in, and hopefully my story can help others decide on their career path as well.

A very common career path for psychology majors involves something with counseling. This could include many different types of counseling. Some examples include Mental Health Counseling, Family or Marriage Counseling, or even Career Counseling. My interest in counseling developed when I became close with the many Career Counselors who work in Career & Internship Services here at UMD. I met with them and they always made me feel so comfortable and they were always so helpful. I realized I wanted to help people as well, so I have definitely looked into different counseling programs.

Exploring Psych

Another area that I looked at was School Psychology. I think I would enjoy school psychology because I find Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology very interesting. I enjoy learning about how someone’s experiences as a child can affect their adult life. School psychologists work with individual students and groups of students to deal with behavioral problems, academic difficulties, disabilities, and other issues. They also work with teachers and parents to develop techniques to deal with home and classroom behavior. Other tasks include training students, parents, and teachers about how to manage crisis situations and substance abuse problems. I think I would be good at this profession because I like to work with children and adults, and I think it would be a very rewarding career.

I also have looked into a career as a rehabilitation psychologist. Rehabilitation psychology is a very broad area of psychology, and it covers a wide range of different psychological problems. Many rehabilitation psychologists specialize in certain areas of this field, and they only work with certain types of patients. Job duties for a rehabilitation psychologist include conducting interviews with patients, or the patient’s loved ones. It could also include staging interventions, assessing and diagnosing patients, counseling, and simply guiding the patient to their goals. I think I would enjoy being a rehabilitation psychologist because of many of the same reasons that I stated above. I enjoy working with people and helping them with their problems. I also find the topic of addiction very interesting. I would want to talk to the patient and figure out what the underlying reason for the addiction is. I think this would be a very rewarding occupation as well, because you are helping someone through what could possibly be the most difficult part of their life. I think my communication and empathy skills would benefit me in that career.

The final career path that I have been researching is a Marriage and Family Therapist. Marriage and family therapists help troubled couples and families identify and understand the psychological issues behind their problems so they can improve their relationships and repair any damage done to the relationship. These therapists use their knowledge of the psychology of relationships and the family dynamic to help families and couples take a step back and recognize why the issues occurred in the first place. They then help the families and couples work through these issues together. I think I would enjoy this job because I have experience in that area and I think that my own experiences would help me relate to people and connect with them.

When you are contemplating career paths it is always a good idea to look at all of your options. The best thing to do is educate yourself on the duties and responsibilities of a particular job and imagine yourself doing those things. Can you see yourself doing something like that for the rest of your life? It is also very helpful to conduct informational interviews and job shadows. Try to explore many different career paths and do not be too narrow minded when you are searching through different jobs, because you never know what you might enjoy!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts
Photo source: Unsplash|Dustin Lee

Art Therapy – An Alternative Career Option

By: Katie

In a previous post, I wrote about my “quarter-life crisis” and deciding to drop my majors to study psychology and art instead. I chose those two areas after hearing about a relatively new field that is gaining popularity in the psychology world: art therapy.

Art therapy is one of several alternative forms of therapy that is being used to offer different options for those seeking help and those looking to provide it. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as, “…a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, and increase self-esteem.”

Art therapy is a unique interdisciplinary field that brings together both creative activities and counseling techniques into a single process. Art therapists need to have knowledge of visual art, the creative process, counseling practice, and human development.  Being an art therapist requires completing a master’s or doctoral program in art therapy, which typically ask for prerequisite coursework in psychology and art (meaning it’s probably best to study both as an undergraduate). While you need artistic knowledge, neither therapist nor client needs to be the next van Gogh (especially with the cutting the ear off thing). Art therapy is about using the creative process and creative expression in the healing, recovery, or discovery process, not creating the next Starry Night.

The techniques used in art therapy can be used with any age group and can be used individually or in a group setting. Art therapists work in private practices, community outreach programs, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and countless other environments. The client(s) can use paint, clay, pencils, crayons, or any other artistic medium you can think of.

As I alluded to, there are several other alternative therapy methods out there, including wilderness therapy, music therapy, pet therapy, dance therapy, and pretty much anything else you could imagine. If you want to work in this field but are not particularly interested in the traditional therapy process, maybe one of these unique options is for you!

Read Katie’s other posts

Career Planning for Social Sciences

Are you one of the many students on the UMD campus with a social science major? Odds are, you are. Our campus offers an array of social science majors ranging from Anthropology to Psychology to Cultural Entrepreneurship to Political Science. We’ve put together a few resources to help you through the career planning process. Included are: what you can do with your major and general job/internship search information. Have fun working on your career plan!

Social Science majors

Internship Programs: a lot of companies have internship programs that happen every year. We have listings (Minnesota, Regional, National) of some of these companies on our Internships page to get you started with your search.

What can I do with a major in: Anthropology; Criminology; Cultural Entrepreneurship; Linguistics; Political Science; Psychology; Social Work; Sociology; Women’s Studies

Other Helpful Career Planning Articles

Deciding on Psychology Graduate Programs

By: Hayley

Now that you have decided that you are going to complete a graduate program in psychology you need to decide what type of program you want to attend. There are five  main types of graduate programs: masters, certificate, PhD, PsyD, and Ed.D.


Completing a certificate program is an option some students chose to prepare them for graduate training in that field. They are not offered at every university but usually take only a year to complete. Having a certificate in a particular area can make you stand out when applying to graduate school or jobs but they are not an advanced degree on their own.


Masters programs usually involve two full years, including one summer, of course work if you attend full-time. If you only attend part-time, then it may take you four years or more to complete your degree. Many people who earn their masters in psychology and obtain the necessary licensure, find jobs in the counseling field. Jobs like rehab counselor, school counselor, career counselor, and mental health counselor are some of the more common positions.

PhD vs PsyD:

Getting your PhD or your PsyD can take anywhere from four to six years and sometimes even longer depending on how quickly you complete the requirements. Once you have graduated from a PhD program you will be a Doctor of Philosophy in your chosen field of Psychology. Where as once you complete a PsyD you will be a Doctor of Psychology. One of the main differences between the two options is that a PhD tends to be a lot more research focused and the PsyD is more practice and application oriented. Also in most PhD programs you are also trained on how to teach others. In general, fewer people apply to PsyD programs but the qualifications once you complete your degree are very similar and often offer the same employment opportunities.

Once you have completed a PsyD program and the required licensing exams for your chosen field, usually clinical or counseling, you will be able to diagnose and treat mental disorders in clinics, private practice, schools, or mental health hospitals. Graduates with a PhD can also diagnose and treat mental health disorders, depending on their field, but there is a wider range of areas to chose from for PhD programs. People with a PhD or PsyD can get jobs as clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists, psychology professors, or industrial organizational psychologists, depending on the area of psychology of their PhD or PsyD.


The Ed.D degree is a little different in that it is a Doctor of Education degree. You can get an Ed.D degree in counseling, developmental, or educational psychology. In general a Ed.D degree takes the same amount of time that a PhD or PsyD and has been recognized as equivalent to them by most organizations. The employment opportunities for people with this degree are similar to that of the PhD and PsyD but many people chose to open their own practice or teach at the university level.

As you can see, there is a wide range of options for furthering your education to choose from in the field of psychology. In general which one you chose to complete depends on your own preference and what you would like to do when you graduate.

Read Hayley’s other posts

What Can I Do With Psychology?

By: Megan

Psychology is one of the most flexible majors at the undergraduate level. It can apply to almost any career, and it appeals to so many people. It’s actually one of the largest majors a UMD. The problem is, with so many choices, a lot of Psych majors feel pretty lost. UMD has seen this so often, they created a class just for exploring what you can do with Psych. It is required for the major, but if you don’t want to take it just yet, here’s a basic rundown of career options:

Counseling Psychology lets you talk one on one with someone and help them figure out how to work the best with what they’ve got. They can work in schools, hospitals, colleges, private practice, or pretty much anywhere they’re needed. They can be Grief Counselors, School Counselors, Career Counselors, Family Counselors, and so many more. You need a master’s to be called a counselor, and a Doctorate to be a Psychologist.

Clinical Psychology is essentially the research focus of Psych. Clinical Psychologists have generally gone to grad school and spent a lot of time asking people questions, studying how to write research reports, and just doing research projects. With how diverse a subject Psych is, you can imagine what they study: physiology, human interactions, stress, development, aging, mental disorders, consumerism (how people decide what to buy), and SO much more.

Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology studies, essentially, work places. Working environment, motivators, and learning in the workplace. You’ll usually find an I/O Psychologist in the Human Resource Department of a big firm.

Educational Psychology is focused on how people learn in settings like schools. Psychologists help develop teaching models, study how people on different developmental levels react to being taught, and everything else related to education. When working in a school setting, they’re generally referred to as School Psychologists, which often requires a separate degree.

Not everything in Psych requires an advanced degree, though. And not every Psych major is going to go into something necessarily “related to Psychology.” With A Bachelor’s, you can go into a lot of entry-level jobs and work your way up, with no additional education. For example: child care, Human Resources, Marketing, Information Technology, Administration, Retail, Editing, Nonprofits, and more.

With Psych, you can make your own path. You don’t have to follow a strict hierarchical scheme, or learn things in a certain order. You can make your own research projects, your own job, and your own focus. It’s such a young field, everything is constantly changing. There are specialties I haven’t discussed, and more that haven’t been developed. So if you’re interested in Psych, feel free to make your own path.

Still not sure?

The Graduate Follow-up Report has a list of what Psych majors (from UMD!) have done in the year since they graduated.

O*Net lets you look up a career and see salaries, similar occupations, classes you might like, and even job growth.

The Career Resource Center (SCC 22) has several books on what to do with a major in Psych.

Read Megan’s other posts