From more traditional careers like clinical psychologists or social workers to less traditional roles in marketing and technology, jobs for psychology majors run the gamut.
"Psychology majors have the interpersonal skills, can think critically, and they have the ability to analyze data," says Kacey Schaum, assistant director of the Career and Leadership Development Center at Ohio University. "What can you do with a psychology major? The thought that you can't do anything with [it] is 100% false."
With that in mind, here are five ways psychology majors can prepare themselves for the job hunt, even before they have their diplomas in hand.
1. Make a basic list of what you want
Because psychology degree jobs are so varied, you should carefully consider your ideal job characteristics before you dive into your search. These can include things like salary requirements, locations, and the environment that suits your work style. It's also smart to consider your best character traits, as well as any perceived weaknesses or areas for improvement, so you can begin finding positions that leverage your strengths and will help you work on your weaknesses.
Establishing a foundation for what you want to achieve and receive in your career will help you pare down your options.
2. Get active on campus
If you're interested in using your psychology degree for a career in counseling, you may be able to gain valuable experience right on your undergraduate campus.
According to a recent study of 200,000 college students, nearly 40% said they could benefit from some sort of counseling. And as the stigma of mental illness recedes, more students are seeking help to deal with depression and anxiety issues. Many universities are encouraging peer-to-peer organizations such as Active Minds to help fill the demand. Students are often more comfortable talking to other students, and as a psychology major, you may be uniquely equipped to support fellow students through these issues.
This experience can give you a feel for whether you may want to pursue counseling after graduation and can give you valuable experience to put on your resume. As a bonus, you'll be helping your peers at the same time.
3. Find a psychology mentor
Schaum says that working with a mentor is one of the most important things a psychology major can do. Whether you're a recent graduate or you're still in college, a mentor can help you by discussing career path options, advising you on which courses to take, and introducing you to opportunities in your field.
Make sure the person you ask to be your mentor is aware of your goals, interests and schedule. Your mentor should be knowledgeable about the field you are hoping to go into, and you should feel comfortable asking him or her any questions. Decide whether to meet regularly to discuss your job search progress or to have more casual check-ins.
"I graduated more than 10 years ago, and I'm still in contact with my mentor," says Schaum. "She has been the most influential person in my career." Mentors can help you build your network and can be a resource for you long after graduation.
4. Blend your skills with your career goals
When searching for a job, consider your interests outside your major, as your perfect job could be a combination of psychology and another field. Are you obsessed with technology and the power of social media? Do you have ideas about how companies can better understand their customers? Increasingly, students are putting their psychology majors to use in fields like marketing and communication studies. For a better idea, check out these seven best jobs for psychology and sociology majors.
"So many employers don't limit recruiting to one major anymore," says Schaum. "Combining your interests only makes you more attractive."
5. Consider graduate school
An alternate route for your post-grad life is graduate school. There are benefits to going back to school for your master's degree or Ph.D.; you'll earn better pay and qualify for a higher tier of positions in certain industries. But even if you're considering a graduate program, you don't have to do it right away. In fact, gaining a couple of years of work experience can ultimately prove to be more fruitful, especially if you can find a company that is willing to pay for your advanced degree studies.
"Paying off student debt is a real issue," says Schaum. "Working for a few years can alleviate that stress while also providing psychology majors more insight into the type of work they want to do."
You've been developing your skills for years in classrooms, libraries, and extracurricular activities. Armed with your psychology degree and an engaging resume, you'll be prepared to make any organization or business better. Check out our Resume Builder to get a jump start on that resume. And look to LiveCareer for help with your job search, whether it's giving your resume some pop, conducting mock interviews, or writing an attention-grabbing cover letter.