The Psych Report

The Blog for the Psychology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Category: Psyched for Careers

Forensic Psychology: Featured Alum Q&A

Uhl_Carolyn (1)Carolyn Uhl


What first interested you in forensic psychology?

  •  After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where I completed my undergraduate degree, I obtained full-time employment as a Case-Manager at Marion House, a group home for pregnant and parenting adolescents.
  • Case-Managers were responsible for a multitude of activities; we coordinated all of a client, and her child(ren)’s needs.  These needs included medical, dental, counseling, AODA, legal, educational, nutritional, legal, etc.  We were also responsible for maintaining contact with our client’s social workers and/or parole officers.
  • My interest in forensic psychology began during my employment at Marion House.  Most of our clients came from underprivileged backgrounds, and many of them with criminal backgrounds.  Due to my limited, prior knowledge and experience with the legal system, I found that this was the area in which I most struggled in aiding and advocating for my clients.
  • Additionally, I was fascinated by learning about the reasons behind their behavior, as well as trying to understand how parole officers and/or social workers would try to predict my client’s future behavior (e.g., via a risk assessment).
  • I decided to apply to graduate programs in forensic psychology in order to better serve my clients.

What did you learn in your undergraduate career that contributed to your current knowledge?

  • Classes from UWGB that best prepared me for graduate school included:  Research Methods/Experimental Psychology, Statistics, Test and Measurement, Social Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology.
  • Classes from UWGB that best prepared me for my employment (past and present):   Research Methods/Experimental Psychology, Statistics, Tests and Measurement, all of my developmental courses, as well as any cross-cultural courses I took.
  • I also worked as a research assistant and completed an internship during my last semester at UWGB and learned a lot of valuable skills in each of these positions.  If I could go back, I would have spent more time working on research as an undergraduate student.  I would also have completed an independent study project.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring forensic psychologists?

  • Participate in as much research as possible.  Even if it is unrelated to forensic psychology, the skills you learn are invaluable and can easily translate to another subfield within psychology.  Try networking with forensic psychologists working in the field to get a more realistic sense of what forensic psychologists do and what skills will be most beneficial for you to gain experience/knowledge with during graduate school.

For more information specifically on Graduate School see what advice Gretchen has about graduate school related to counseling psychology.

Graduate School Alum Advice: Forensic Psychology

Uhl_Carolyn (1)Carolyn Uhl


What steps did you take to get to where you are now?

  • I completed my undergraduate degree at UWGB, where I majored in Psychology and Human Development.
  • During my last semester at UWGB, I completed an internship at Marion House, a group home for pregnant and parenting adolescents.
  • Upon graduation, I was offered full-time employment at Marion House, where I worked as a Case-Manager for around a year and half, at which time I was promoted to Program Manager for a recently opened transitional living program for homeless pregnant and parenting young mothers, especially for those aging out of the foster care system.
    • As I mentioned above, I thought that one area in which I could grow in my ability to advocate for my clients was related to helping them navigate the legal system; however, I didn’t want to go to law school, so I found forensic psychology to be a great compromise.
  • I applied and was accepted into the MS forensic psychology program at the University of North Dakota (UND).
    • During my time in the program, my advisor encouraged me to apply for the experimental/general psychology PhD program.
    • During my time in the PhD program, I focused on classes that would enhance my statistical skills, expand my knowledge of forensic psychology, and/or provide me with skills that were easily transferrable to other fields.
    • During graduate school, I taught classes at UND, as well as a local technical college. However, working on my own research, as well as various research projects within my advisor’s lab, was where I learned the most.  I was able to apply my classroom knowledge and study things that were of interest to me and others in the lab.

Did you enjoy your forensic psych graduate experience? Anything in particular?

  • I definitely enjoyed my forensic psych graduate experience. I enjoyed my classes, conducting research, teaching, and speaking and working with classmates.  I especially enjoyed working on research, especially data analysis.

What is a typical day schedule for you?

  •  What I currently do:
    • I am currently a Research Analyst at St. Norbert College.
    • As a Research Analyst, I prepare, initiate, and implement survey and other data collection and research efforts. I also help refine research questions, construct datasets, conduct statistical analyses, summarize research findings, create interactive data visualizations and dashboards, and prepare reports and presentations in support of requests from various units on campus and of accreditation efforts.
    • Our office also works to support faculty, staff, student, and collaborative scholarly research efforts.
    • In my free time, I conduct research on juror perceptions regarding victim culpability, cyber-crimes and the law (e.g., image-based sexual abuse), and social injustices faced by underrepresented populations.
  • What I did before you moved back to this area/how I use my research skills in my current position:
    • In graduate school, I chose to take courses that would best prepare me for a career conducting research.
    • I focused on building my statistical skills as much as possible.
    • I also sought out opportunities to enhance my research skills and took a mixed-methods course, a Ux course, a writing/publishing course, and worked with different students and faculty within the department to help get the broadest range of experiences and skills.
    • These experiences helped expand my skill set and allowed me to be a more well-rounded researcher.
  • What others from UND forensic psychology programs have done after finishing their education:
    • Graduates from the Forensic Psychology program where I do work in many different areas.
    • Some, like me, are working in data analysis and/or research capacities, some are conducting forensic evaluations under the supervisor of psychologists, some work with prisons and juvenile facilities, some work as probation services, some work as legal advocates (e.g., child advocacy centers, sexual assault centers, crisis centers), some work in social service agencies, some work in law enforcement, etc.

Graduate School Alum Advice: Counseling Psychology

gretchen

Gretchen Klefstad


What steps did you take to get to where you are now?

  • During my senior year of undergrad, I applied to a number of master’s counseling programs.
  • In all honesty, a lot of my internships and assistantships in undergrad were through the Public Administration department or with local nonprofits.
    • A strong motivator for me to pursue a graduate degree in counseling came from my determination to learn more about mental illness and continue to reduce the stigma. I ended up attending the University of Minnesota (the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program).
  • I just graduated in May 2019. After graduation I took some time off to reset and figure out what was next for me. With a counseling degree, there’s a lot of different avenues and opportunities for work. I needed some time to find the next good thing and how I could best fit into the counseling field.
  • Just a few weeks ago, I accepted a job at Indigo Counseling Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. This happened after two months filled with job applications and interviews.

Did you enjoy your counseling psych graduate experience? Anything in particular?

  • Overall, yes. With any graduate experience there are some drawbacks or challenges. I feel as though the CSPP program was more directed toward school counselors. However, with that experience, I also shared a learning environment with people pursuing different avenues of counseling and that led to interesting group discussions and new perspectives.
  • Throughout my practicum experience, which was extremely challenging, I felt very supported and encouraged from faculty and my supervisor at the U.

What is a typical day schedule for you?

  • In a few weeks, I’d be able to give a more detailed answer because I’m currently still settling into my new job and building a client load.
  • So far, I’ve found that private practice offers a lot of flexibility. I’m currently only doing two days a week at Indigo, planning to see about five clients each day. I will continue to add on more days as I bring on new clients.
  • What I like best is that I can see clients and accumulate hours toward LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) licensure, but I also have the freedom and time to do other things like volunteer for mental health care initiatives, get involved with local nonprofits, and work on my “passion projects”.

Counseling Psychology: Featured Alum Q&A

gretchen

Gretchen Klefstad


What first interested you in counseling psychology?

  • I can recall my time in high school was when I first started gaining interest in mental health care. I was raised in a very small community and there was a considerable amount of negative ideas about counseling and mental illness. Due to this, I was interested in learning more about mental illnesses and the stigma that was so prevalent in my community.

 

What did you learn in your undergraduate career that contributed to your current knowledge?

  • I cannot say enough good things about my time at UWGB.
  • I majored in Psychology but also studied Public Administration emphasizing in Nonprofit Management. I had this unique balance of learning about the human experience and how to navigate the public and nonprofit sectors. I recall taking a counseling class with Dr. Vespia that first had me thinking about pursuing the profession. I think my undergraduate education really set a solid foundation for my master’s in many different ways.
  • I learned how to advocate for myself and ask for help when I needed it which proved to be extremely beneficial in graduate school. As I think a little deeper, during my time in Green Bay I came to understand the importance of community. I still take that with me today.
  • Not only relying on other counselors and mental health professionals for support, but being knowledgeable about community resources. I’m in this field to help and if I can’t directly help someone, I want to point them in a direction of where they can receive that help. This was instilled in a lot of different areas through my undergraduate education.

 

Do you have any advice for any aspiring counseling psychologists?

  • Ask questions and make connections! Reach out to counselors and other professionals, ask about their grad school experiences, what they like or dislike about their job, what they wish they had known going into it.
  • One thing to know is that it’s a long process. After two years in graduate school, there’s an additional two years before you’re licensed – and that can be a tricky space to navigate. It’s worth it, but it’s tricky.
  • Although it can be challenging in many different ways, being a therapist is such a beautiful gift. I share a space with someone who opens up and allows me to hear their story, their struggles, their triumphs. I am continually reminded of the determination and resilience of humans – and that is a really wonderful thing.

For more information specifically on Graduate School see what advice Gretchen has about graduate school related to counseling psychology.

School Psychology: Featured Alum Q&A

Tessa

Tessa Evenson


What first interested you in school psychology?

  • During my time at UWGB I always looked for volunteer opportunities or jobs working with children so I could figure out exactly it was I wanted to do
  • I started working at Tank Elementary my sophomore year in one of those afterschool programs, where I worked for my remaining years at UWGB
  • I then completed the Camp Lloyd Internship, working with grieving children at a summer camp, and the Alternative Recess Internship, where I spent lunch with kids at an intermediate school.
  • All of these experiences, with the help of the psychology program at UWGB, helped me decide what career path was right for me!

What did you learn in your undergraduate career that contributed to your current knowledge?

  • At UWGB, I always felt that I could go to professor’s office hours to ask specific questions.
  • I’m currently in a class that is statistics based, which I was super nervous for. However, I actually find myself raising my hand and answering questions often. I owe that to the knowledge I attained in my undergraduate classes.
  • I also feel that UWGB really helped me understand culture, biases, stereotypes, and privileges. I have to use this understanding and knowledge every day in grad school and eventually every day when I become a School Psychologist.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring school psychologists?

  • The best advice I have for aspiring school psychologists is to have strong relationships with undergraduate professors and to have as much experience as possible working with kids and being in the school environment, as a whole.
  • I know of others who were not or were waitlisted because they did not have professors to write their recommendations and/or because they did not have as much experience or knowledge with the field.
  • If you are interested in school psychology, set up a time to shadow a school psychologist and do your research on the profession.
  • It is also ok if you do not attend graduate school right away. A lot of the people in my cohort took a year or even more off after undergraduate school to work in schools or with kids as paraprofessionals or in mental health facilities. One person in my cohort was actually a 2nd grade teacher before applying and another was a mental health counselor before deciding to apply for school psychology.
  • Having a year or more to get some experience helps those people understand the content in class faster than me, since they have more experience in schools.
  • School Psychology is a great career path for those who love working one-on-one with kids and those who have great interpersonal skills in collaborating with others.

For more information specifically on Graduate School see what advice Tessa has about graduate school related to school psychology.

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