Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Psychology in the Workplace

Liberal Arts Education: Psychology and Business

When I began my B.A. at Augustana College I never really imagined how useful my liberal arts education would be for me, but more impactful was how useful my degree in psychology would be. (Especially in the world of business where we are actively looking to engage our employees...) Foremost let me say, I work for a Fortune 50 organization with over 125,000 employees globally. I was not a business major, my bachelor’s was not in business, nor did I EVER expect to be working in a large global corporation. (Secretly between us, I always wanted to do ground breaking neuro-psychological research and write. But Life has plans for everyone, and that was not what Life had in store for me.)

The general public seems to think that psychology majors psycho-analyze all the people we meet.  That is absolutely impossible, I would not be able to think or see straight if I was always analyzing someone around me.  (I would also be taking all of the fun out of life… plus people are hard to predict.)  If I tried to analyze all the people I encountered in the type of work that I do, I would go completely and utterly - stark raven mad. Absolutely crazy! Period. However, what my educational experience did provide me was a great ability to think critical about what I see, encounter, and read. It gave me the ability to be analytical, and dig deeper into problems. It gave me the ability to document and effectively communicate a process or changes in a process (BOTH written and verbally), and the display the importance of that process. It gave me the ability to see and understand statistics (analytics) and in a business world where we are now beginning to really use and see business analytics that's imperative.

That's a lot of competences for just your psychology education. Here is the real kicker… many people in business think that a degree in psychology is completely useless in the arena of business. However, the given a strong, challenging and structured curriculum psychology majors are graduating with the best of all worlds. For example, a degree in psychology can expose you to the people and their cultures in sociology; the hard sciences in biology, anatomy, and chemistry; the function of people in business, and the methods in which to conduct proper research that relates to much of what business professionals do on a daily basis.

A degree in psychology really allows the student to have a strong diversity of thought, which in our global and competitive world is completely necessary in the current state of business. We need more people who are capable of thinking on their own and possess the ability to seek out new information, ideas, and processes. This is what successful psychology majors do. We seek out the un-understood information. We want to know why it works, not just that it works. We want to follow a process, seek out inefficiencies in the processes in which we work and develop effective new processes.

We need diversity of thought and people who can bring differing perspectives and insights to the business climate. So next time you are looking at a resume of a newly graduated student that has a degree in psychology (and not business) keep these things in the back of your mind. What type of talent will I need in the future??? (Because the world is rapidly growing and you need peple who can grow with it…)

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