Just over two years ago I shut down my lab at the University of Texas and began working as a researcher in an industry setting. Although I am still developing a nuanced perspective of what it means to be a (social and personality) psychologist who works in industry, I can comfortably say that the goals of researchers across settings are by and large the same: to conduct theory-driven, high-quality research. Despite these similarities, over the past couple of years my conversations with recent Ph.Ds. (and many faculty) have highlighted an unfortunate reality: the vast majority of graduate programs in our field are ill-prepared to properly advise our most amazing students for how best to prepare for a job in industry. Yet, the fact of the matter is that the current academic job market is incapable of supporting the next generation of graduating Ph.D.s and, independently, the lifestyle offered by a career in industry is, for many, a more attractive option.
If I am fortunate enough to be elected for this new SPSP Executive Committee Industry at-large position, I will work with the Committee to identify how SPSP can best support current and former students who are interested in careers that take them beyond colleges and universities. I am admittedly not entirely sure what form this support will take; rather, I intend to work proactively with the Committee to clarify the objective of this position and identify exactly what is needed to best serve the members of the organization. My primary goal is to collaborate with current and former students, research and teaching faculty, and existing members of SPSP who are employed in industry settings to help elevate the stature of industry positions. I believe strongly that if the knowledge of our field is truly going to impact the world for the better, then we need our best researchers driving that change in all settings. At a minimum, I anticipate this goal will be achieved by expanding the current offerings of the annual SPSP conference such that they shed light on exactly how a Ph.D. in personality and social psychology is of broad appeal across industry and what types of experiences, both those currently offered by traditional graduate programs as well as additional internship and training opportunities, will best serve those interested in applying their knowledge and research skills in industry settings. Over the long term, however, I hope to support the development of a more collaborative spirit between industry- and academic-based researchers, something I believe is profoundly needed if the amazing work done by SPSP members is going to have an impact beyond the pages of CVs and academic publications. If I can help get things moving in this direction, then I will have been successful.