#HonorsProblems: Social Scientists Unite!

The following blog post was written by peer advisor Anna, a CCAS junior studying psychology and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. 

Wanting to be a “social scientist” can often feel like shouting into the void. People will tell you to take certain classes, publish, make posters, do research, etc. but there are endless possibilities as to where you can “end up.” We tend to get a bit lost in the vastness of CCAS, and I’ll admit, I’m still pretty uncertain about what I want to do. Still, I’ve found the most rewarding experiences to be connecting with others who are on similar paths both in and outside class
This past summer, I worked at the REACH lab (Resilience Emerging Amidst Childhood Hardships) at the University of Memphis. Among the mix of Masters and PhD students, the lab was continually working on 5 different studies, and two conferences happened in the three months I was there. Besides getting more experience with SPSS and Qualtrics (groan) and conducting interviews with participants, the very best part of this lab experience was being surrounded by people who have similar interest and goals. Though I had a “home field advantage” of sorts, I still went in not knowing anyone and feeling unexperienced as an undergrad. The graduate students were constantly working on papers, poster presentations, conducting interviews, and consolidating data. Despite all the chaos, I worked to get to know each of them individually and gained real-world insight on what Psych research can look like. Most importantly, they were able to answer all of my endless questions about applying to grad school, working towards a degree, and beyond – which, by the way, I realized takes around 6 years (if you don’t take a break between undergrad and grad school). Ha ha.
Looking back, the lab was everything I needed it to be. I gained skills, worked with awesome women who all have different career goals (ranging from owning their own practice to starting a non-profit grief center), and can finally answer YES when I’m asked if I have previous research experience. I also have more realistic, grounded expectations for post-grad.
For future social scientists especially, pursue research when it comes up (and ask for research experience if it doesn’t appear conveniently). Find people on similar paths in your classes and outside GW; get to know them, ask questions. Demystifying graduate school and embracing the endless career paths/options/goals of social science will help make your undergrad experience an exciting stepping stone rather than a shout into the void.

1 thought on “#HonorsProblems: Social Scientists Unite!

  1. Lauren Schaefer

    This is a fantastic article! It was so great working with you!

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