Ipeknaz Erel headshotAs a double major in psychology and business, SPUR provided me with the perfect internship. I was always interested in marketing, consumer behavior and decision making; however, due to being in a small liberal arts college, the number of labs in the psychology department was limited.

Therefore, when applying to the SPUR internship, I wanted to work with professors who conducted research in intersecting fields and Professor Hershfield in UCLA’s Anderson School of Management was a great match for me.

Throughout the internship, what I enjoyed most was assisting several different projects that my mentor was carrying on and attending the weekly lab meetings. Over the course of eight weeks I got exposed to different research areas and academics with diverse research interests, which broadened my perspective.

I appreciated being involved in several different research assistant tasks including doing literature reviews, running participants in the lab, editing manuscripts, and coding experiments. By doing literature reviews in topics that I haven’t been exposed to before, I got more articles and theories under my belt in different fields like the psychology of debt, retirement, and life regrets.

It was sometimes challenging to understand the different concepts that I haven’t been exposed before, but I think it improved my critical skills of evaluating experiments and scientific articles. I believe that this experience was very valuable for enhancing my own research ideas and exploring new paths in the field.

Working with Professor Hershfield was a great experience. He was very receptive and supportive. He introduced me to many academics in the field and got me involved in projects with them, which I believe was not only very beneficial for me as a researcher but also for expanding my professional network.

I also got the opportunity to access valuable resources in consumer psychology through the articles and books that my mentor provided me. I had the chance to explore the framework of different theories and concepts in consumer happiness, emotions and the role of time in consumer behavior.

I appreciated this opportunity very much because I never had the chance to get involved in a lab or projects in the areas of consumer behavior and decision-making at my home institution. By working in different projects in related fields, I gained more knowledge and theoretical framework, which helped me generate new research ideas that I am planning to pursue during my senior year.

I would like to believe that I improved as a researcher and gained more insight about the experiences of a Ph.D. student by watching presentations given by graduate students and post-doctoral researchers and working in the same office with them. By meeting many Ph.D. students, I had a better understanding of the experience and it helped me direction my own future path as a researcher.

I feel so grateful to be given this opportunity to work with Professor Hershfield and for the experience. Many thanks to the SPSP for making this possible. I believe that this is a great program to train bright future researchers who would be otherwise under-represented in the field of social-personality psychology. I hope that many more undergraduate students like me will get the chance to attend such a great program.