It’s that time - the beginning of the last semester before I graduate from collee. It’s time to find a job or graduate school program and plot out the rest of my life. A renewed interest in charity and decreased interest in psychology, my chosen field of study, have led me to question my planned life course. Open my mind to what I might be able to do with my life.
For 6 or 7 years, I had my mind set. It was going to be great - I was going to go to college and get a degree in psychology with a related minor (which ended up being family studies), go on to graduate school in clinical psychology, and have a fulfilling job in academia (which I now realize tends on the oxymoronic side).
My research interests are/were varied: the role of the family in latent psychology, social justice issues relevant to psychology (availability of low cost mental health care, etc.), the etiology of autism, and most eminently, the role of psychologypathology in the child welfare system. I have six children adopted from the state of Minnesota, all of whom have special needs due to abuse incurred while living with their birth parents. I love them dearly, and would have loved to be behind research that could help children who have been similarly abused.
This past fall, in the midst of one of the busiest semesters in the history of postsecondary education, I was struck with an ulcer. “Trim the fat from your life,” my doctor demanded - and I did, putting grad school on hold for a year. I found a job for the interim year, working for a private social work agency in the southwest as a case manager for a community adoption program. This is set to begin at the end of May, after I graduate.
But I’m beginning to reconsider. I talked to an eminent psychology researcher who specializes in child abuse research, who repeatedly emphasized that if my sole purpose of entering the field was to make a difference that I would be better served working for UNICEF. I’ve also spoken with two social workers, both of whom insisted that I was a very smart person whose talents would be better used elsewhere. I also concluded that I’d struggle
Currently, I’m investigating a few alternative options. I'm currently fixated on the possibility of a career in charity. I have a very, very, very strong interest in NGOs. Careers at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are incredibly appealing to me. I’m currently looking at MPP (public policy) and MPA (public administration) graduate school programs. Rutgers has an MPA program that intrigues me; it emphasizes international development
and integrates a year in the Peace Corps. I’m also entertaining the idea of spending the next year in the Peace Corps, probably in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve also looked at full-time jobs for the Clinton Foundation, Amnesty International, and
Other possibly relevant factoids: I’m very liberal - an avid and well-informed supporter of Barack Obama. The Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond are among my favorite films. Am I a bleeding heart? Probably, but if that’s the case, it’s as much of a component of who I am as my green eyes are, and it’s not going away. I’m a very good student (3.8 GPA, ~1400 GRE). I also have a variety of professional and volunteer experiences that range from directing fundraisers benefitting autism research foundations to research assistantships . I’m a very talented web and graphic designer, and could easily make 50-75k/year doing freelance design work. I’m obsessed with the idea of living in either Africa, England, or Loudoun County, VA (near Washington DC).
In short, I’m confused. I badly want to make a difference on this planet that we call our home, but I’m naive to many of my options and don’t know where to go from here. I’d appreciate any advice, anecdotal or otherwise, that you might be able to provide, Also, any suggestions or recommendations of programs that I might be interested in are also welcome. Thanks everyone, this is a stressful proposition for me, and for the first time in my life I feel like I’m in over my head.