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American Psychology-Law Society. (2013, September 18). Interviews with professionals in psychology and law. American Psychological Association.

What do you consider to be the most important skill and/or the most important lesson for students to learn in graduate school?
  • Perseverance (Eve Brank)

  • I think there was a strong message of lifelong learning, because I would graduate with basic knowledge and skills, but I would still have a lot to learn would have to always work to keep up. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • Learn how to write. For internship applications, that’s the first thing they see: do you express your thoughts in a coherent and concise manner? It’s a skill that I’ll continue to develop for the rest of my career. When I try to explain it to my students about the importance of this, I ask them, are you explaining things to your clients, insurance companies, or the court in a way they can understand? (Lisa Kan)

  • The most useful skill (as far as clinical skills go) was learning how to interview patients. You always have to talk to your patients so, learning how to do that is good. Also, the skill of learning how to find information or answers. That whole adage of, “Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day but, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime,” kind of thing is something I learned. (Jorge Varela)

  • My advisor, Dick Reppucci, said that one of the biggest things you need to succeed in academia is to have a thick skin, which I think I learned to develop. That's been very helpful for me. Beyond quantitative skills, how to approach science in an inquisitive, critical way, and also how to manage the work/life balance. The pace that you set as a graduate student is the one that will follow you through into your career. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • There are so many small things that it’s hard to pick a large one. I think I’d say that I came across a lot of faculty members who did a good job of mentoring me, and helping to make sure I didn’t lose confidence in my ability to do things. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • Critical thinking skills are useful in all aspects of our profession, so developing and cultivating critical thinking skills is key. (David DeMatteo)

  • The ability to synthesize information into meaningful yet digestible units and then communicate that information to any type of audience that would listen.(Ryann Leonard)

  • However long you think it is going to take double that—with regards to dissertations and some other research projects. (Darryl Johnson)

  • The best piece of advice I received was the admonition that you can't do it all. Graduate school offers a wide variety of opportunities to teach, become involved in research and clinical activities, and to serve others. There are also many opportunities for personal and professional development. It can be tempting to say “yes” to everything. I had two children by the time I started graduate school, so it was particularly tempting for me to feel guilty about all the things that I could have been doing “if only there was time.” I learned to prioritize what was most important to me, and it is crucial to be able to turn down opportunities and requests that are not centrally important to my goals. (Jennifer Eno Louden)

  • Depends completely on career aspirations--data analytic and methods skills (and substative and theoretical grounding in some area) for people looking at research careers in university or research settings, extra teaching experience (probably enhanced with coursework on teaching) for those looking for teaching positions, consulting experiences and relevant skills for those looking for consulting careers, clinical training and experience for those. (Steven D. Penrod)

  • A solid grounding in both assessment and treatment skills, an in depth understanding of ethical issues, and the ability to write a coherent report (David L. Shapiro)

  • Critical thinking. This encompasses a range of considerations, from skills in research design and statistics to competence in interpreting the results of assessment tools to being able to determine whether an intervention really is "empirically validated." We can do a reasonable job of training graduate students in specific skills, but critical thinking is the fuel that allows graduate students to function as competent professionals (Kirk Heilbrun).

  • After developing all the basic skills, what makes the difference is inquisitiveness and a desire to create, not merely to perform (Thomas Grisso) .

  • I think the most important lesson to learn in graduate school is to sample from all available opportunities to determine what you like and what you don't. Many students come into graduate school thinking that they know what they want to do when they finish but, more often than not, this changes as they make their way through graduate school. It is an error to shut oneself off too early. Many students do not take available opportunities to experience everything that they can as a graduate student--when it is safe and there are no financial repercussions for trying new things. I think it is important for students to develop as many skills as possible throughout graduate school and availing oneself of multiple and varied opportunities and experiences allows one to do this (Patricia Zapf).

  • Distinctions between the nature of (scientific) constructs used in psychology and the (social policy) concepts use in law, and the limitations for measuring/predicting/explaining the latter using the former (Norman Poythress).

  • To know what you know and know what you don't know. And if you don't know something, know where or to whom you can go to learn it (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • Critical and independent thinking and conceptualization. Our graduate education has become, in my humble opinion, skewed by wide adoption of a mentoring model. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it tends to result in students cloning their advisors, taking their advisors interests and data for their own research and so forth. The best excercise for critical thinking is to examine what one believes to be true and to identify all of those assumptions and "automatic associations" that one takes for granted (Stephen L. Golding).

  • The most important skill to learn in graduate school is statistics. You can learn many things on your own later in your career, but statistics is best learned in class and early on. The most important lesson to learn is how to be an active contributor to research, starting in graduate school and ending only when you do (John Monahan).

  • While in graduate school, students make the transition from a "dependent" scholar/researcher/clinician to an "independent" scholar/researcher/clinician. If the student comes into graduate school without these abilities, it is important for him or her to develop self-directedness, self-discipline, self-confidence, and leadership skills (Vicky Weisz).

  • Graduate school is a time for students to hone their skills, and to (hopefully) have experiences that provide them with lifelong insights into their profession. To some extent this is dependent on students' mentors. Students have a role in this too, in the roles they adopt as they work with faculty on various projects. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from Ralph Rosnow at Temple University, and I have found his lessons on research methodology to be immensely valuable (Evan Harrington).

  • Psychology Graduate students must learn to (a) think and write clearly and specifically, (b) be self-disciplined and self-motivated, (c) use time very wisely, (d) be excited about learning new things in and outside of the discipline, and (e) understand their field well enough to produce theoretically sound research ideas and research designs to test those ideas (Bette L. Bottoms).

  • The most important skill for prospective and current students is the ability to write. It's very hard to learn how to write well, but once the skill is mastered it will serve you well throughout your grad career and beyond. The second most important skill is to think critically about the things you're interested in. I don't expect students to come up with REALLY compelling research questions early in their grad career, but I do hope to see them at the end. My grad mentor always said that its best to ask the kinds of questions that are interesting no matter how they turn out. I know it's very hard to do, but that's the best way to try and approach a research problem (Narina Nunez).

  • Time management. Graduate school often is the first time students are faced with so many competing demands - theses, research, coursework, practicum placements. Learning to juggle multiple responsibilities while maintaining a healthy "real life" is a skill that will help students survive graduate school and succeed in their future work. Sadly, those competing demands don't go away after graduate school...instead, the silly things seem to procreate (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • To communicate exceptionally well both orally and in writing and to understand the scientific method including methodology and quantitative techniques. For work in psychology/law that may have policy impications it becomes important to get out of the confines of an academic department and develop research and action projects in the community. A goal should be to use the laboratory for research to define constructs, but to take those finding to the larger community to test them. Remembering Kurt Lewin's cyclical process of steps in field research helps keep researchers of our ilk grounded. Always remember that at best there are always more than one correct answer and that your work is always informed by your own values no matter how objective you try to be (N. Dickon Reppucci).

What is one thing you wished you had done more of in graduate school?
  • I wish that I had been able to spend more time getting to know my fellow graduate students. Between my long commute and wanting to get home to my kids, I didn’t spend much extra time on campus. I feel that I could have learned a lot from my fellow grad students. (Jennifer Eno Louden)

  • Sleep!! I also wish that I would have been more comfortable establishing a balance between graduate school and my personal life. (Darryl Johnson)

  • I wish I had taken time to explore my own interests and to really spend time absorbing the material. I think in graduate school we are introduced to the stress of “publish or perish” and I think it sometimes stunts creativity and progress. Most of the time we end up studying areas that are of interest to our mentors, which is great, but if you have an idea that is sound take the time to explore it. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I wish I would've taken time to enjoy it. Graduate school has a fast pace and a lot of obligations and responsibilities, and I didn't always take the time to sit back and enjoy it. (David DeMatteo)

  • Nothing. I’m very pleased with my grad school experience. I had access to research, access to clinical forensic populations for forensic work, access to great mentors, and access to college football. I had a great time at Alabama. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • Research!! Now that I find myself in a research job, I wish I’d done more in grad school. What about balancing schoolwork and research? Not every class needs an A; A's are nice and if you can get them that's great but if, once in a while, you have to get a B to accomplish something else that's good because, like a year after graduating, no one looks at the grades you got in class. I don't necessarily think you should get all B's – strive for A's but know you have to strike a balance. And, if you're interested in an academic career – if you get a B in Physiological Psychology (for example), it's not going to hurt you as much and having sacrificed your grade to publish another article may help you. Of course, I practically got A's in every class so I sound like a hypocrite but, I wasn't planning on doing a research career so I didn't have to make that decision. Looking back on it now I should have done more research and if cost me some A's, then so be it. To balance research and academics requires you may have to sacrifice some things – like not going to the concert you want, but not sacrificing everything because that makes you crazy. However, there is a matter of priorities, like, “This is a time in my life where I'll be dedicated to my academic pursuits. Soon. there will be a time when I can readjust that.” (Jorge Varela)

  • I guess just figure out a better balance between my clinical and research work. I went through periods when I focused on research or clinical training more than the other, and I wish I did a better job of being able to do both at the same time. I also wish I learned how to better take care of myself [taking time out to relax or just get away]. I got lucky and I was forced to do that on internship and the message was reinforced during my postdoc, but some of my peers didn’t get the opportunity [to learn to take care of themselves that way]. (Lisa Kan)

  • I had a good deal of autonomy, and I liked that. I worked with professors and I worked alone. I think it's important not to spread yourself too thin. In the worst of all worlds you could become a one-trick pony if you are too narrowly focused. But you also don't want to work in too many labs and spread yourself too thin. If you seem interested in everything, it makes it hard for others in the field to determine from your CV who you are and what it is that animates you. Find a happy medium—focused, yet broadly informed at the same time. (Saul Kassin)

What are the most common mistakes you see graduate students making?
  • What? Graduate students make mistakes? I don’t think my students ever make mistakes, but I’ve heard of some students who don’t transition well from the undergraduate student mentality into the graduate student mentality. The rules do change – including the way we keep score. The other answers to this question reflect this change (i.e., the focus on publications). (Eve Brank)

  • Study, probably. I was not the world's best graduate student. I mean, I got by, but I could have put more effort in. But, now, I have this job here [at Sam Houston] and I have all these irons in the fire, here, so I guess that says something. (Mary Alice Conroy

  • Research-aspirant students thinking that classes matter more than generating research (Steven D. Penrod).

  • Focusing on grades with little concern for an in depth understanding of the issues involved (David L. Shapiro).

  • Attempting to apply various tools or techniques in research, assessment, or interventions without understanding the preceding steps and the meaning (and limitations) of these tools/techniques (Kirk Heilbrun).

  • Striving for perfection, and not striving for perfection. (Thomas Grisso)

  • Shutting themselves off to new opportunities and experiences because they think that they know what they want to do when they're finished school and do not think that experiencing new or different opportunities fits in line with their ultimate goals. Many students work hard in graduate school and so give up on experiencing anything new or different because they feel overwhelmed. I think that many students do not come into graduate school fully prepared to think of it as a stage in their careers and are simply looking to get through. If students think if it as a career stage that lasts 5-7 years they might realize that they can selectively experience many different opportunities over that period of time. Not everything needs to be done at the same time but, rather, students can think about their development over this period of time. Many student come into graduate school just wanting to get out and this attitude seems to stop a lot of them from learning and experiencing everything that they possibly can (Patricia Zapf).

  • Readiness to use psychological measures to address legal questions, when those measures have not been designed or validated for such purposes (Norman Poythress).

  • Accepting their advisors' world views and feeling that they need to suppress their own ideas and disagreements for fear of negative evaluation. Not having an identity independent of their roles as graduate students and professionals in training (Stephen L. Golding)

  • One common error is for students to believe that graduate school is an extension of their undergraduate years, particularly for those seeking a Master's degree. Another error is the belief that knowledge isn't useful unless it can be applied to licensure or a class grade. Even the most esoteric bits of knowledge may prove to be useful or provide insight on some other issue later in life (Evan Harrington).

  • A general mistake is losing track of the big-picture goals of not only finishing the thesis and dissertation, but also writing manuscripts based on other projects that can be submitted for publication. Another mistake is letting anxiety distract one from work (Bette L. Bottoms).

  • I see burn out as the biggest obstacle to success. Students come in fired up about grad school but many become tired and sluggish after a couple of years. Grad school is hard. And its VERY demanding. If you can find a way to power through when things get rough, you can make it. And once you're done you can enjoy some of the fruits of your success....but not until then. Sorry (Narina Nunez).

  • First, caring too much about getting "straight As" in courses and (by necessity) too little about publishing. It is essential to build deep foundational knowledge in your area of specialty (e.g., psychopathology, developmental, social, or cognitive psychology). You must know basic theory and science in your area not only to pass "comps," but also to do high quality research on psycholegal issues. In my opinion, students should (a) work very hard in the few, tough courses that will help them build core knowledge and critical thinking skills, but (b) prioritize doing research and publishing papers over impressing their professors with top notch final papers that don't amount to much (nobody looks at your transcript after you get a PhD!). Second, being intimidated by multivariate statistics. Be patient with yourself - stats can and will become a best friend. Make the most of the professors around you who know, understand, and can teach you these skills. There are some fantastic folks out there who are abl e to explain all of this in English (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • Students all too often think that course knowledge or clinical practicums are more important than becoming a competent scientist. With the massive data banks that now exist, many students never learn to start a project from the eginning conceptualization to the final end product of a paper for possible publication. Also a notion that quantity of publications is more important than quality. In this current environment, students who wish to pursue and academic career need both but they should not be misguided that quantity is the critical element. Remember that the most important end product is formulating better questions; answers are the goal but we seldom have a complete one and better questions will always get us closer to the goal (N. Dickon Reppucci).

Describe the “ideal” student for you to mentor. What kinds of skills should the ideal mentee possess, and what can students do to be a better mentee?
  • There's no such a thing as the perfect student, but there are some characteristics that seem to work well: analytical and critical thinking skills, writing and public speaking skills, efficiency, resourcefulness, initiative, maturity, interpersonal skills, sense of humor, and patience. (David DeMatteo)

  • Someone who is genuinely interested in what they're doing (what the mentor is doing and the subjects that interest the mentee). I know as a grad student you might do things that aren't necessarily in your area of interest in order to get the expertise. That's fine because, I don't think it's reasonable to expect each professor to develop 10 different specialty areas and pursue each of those areas with the students. It's important for the students to know why they're doing what they're doing; they need to know why they're asking the professor to work with them (e.g., do I need experience in the lab, getting publications or understanding methodology?), and also enjoy what you're doing and enjoy the learning process itself. (Lisa Kan)

  • Someone who is agreeable and conscientious. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • Someone that's really excited about being where they are and the research they are pursuing, as well as someone that's responsible, smart, and professional, with a pleasant attitude. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Are they willing to work hard? Are they willing to learn? And willing to learn is not a given, some people think they know it all and they're not willing to listen. (Jorge Valero)

  • Smart, creative, motivated, looking for knowledge and wanting to have his/her research be objective and meaningful. Holds the values of searching for knowledge for the sake of understanding but also using that knowledge for the sake of action. Wants to become the best that she/he can possibly be. Does not believe that he/she has the answers or that there is only one way to arrive at knowledge and solutions. Be caring and sensitive to others (N. Dickon Reppucci).

  • My ideal student is motivated. The truth is that if we're doing our job well in the graduate student selection process, then all graduate students are intelligent. Graduate students (really, everyone) need to understand that intelligence will only get you so far; a big factor in life is your level of motivation. I also like students who know how to laugh and have fun in the midst of being academically productive. (Eve Brank)

  • Smart, intellectually curious, ambitious, socially skilled, and practically grounded. Someone who understands *operationally* how to do methodologically rigorous research, is ready and willing to manage databases and learn new analytic techniques, has the capacity and acquires the interviewing skills to establish rapport with our participants...and asks questions when he or she needs help. To be a better mentee, take charge of your education. Decide what you want and work with us actively to make certain you get it. Also, don't be afraid to ask for attention and help. You are in training - nobody expects you to know everything...yet (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • My perception of the ideal student is one who is inquisitive, disciplined, and creative. These three qualities are all important, though some tasks call for more of one or the other (Evan Harrington).

  • My "ideal" mentee is curious, enthusiastic, thoughtful, hard-working, and dependable. I don't know if a student can develop genuine curiosity and enthusiasm if he/she is not naturally that way, but students can make themselves take the time to think things through before meetings with advisors, can take tasks and deadlines seriously, and can be a person that others view as reliable. Those skills go a long way in making a student attractive to professors (Vicky Weisz).

  • In looking at prospective graduate students who have applied to our program, I am looking for someone who has high grades, high GRE scores, knowledge of my research, and a desire to work on the types of projects active in my laboratory (Bette L. Bottoms).

  • My ideal student is smart, hard working, and easy to get along with. In other words, my ideal student is perfect. Seriously, all kinds of students can be fun to mentor so long as they are willing to learn (Narina Nunez).

  • The ideal student to mentor is someone who knows things that I don't know, who works hard, and who eventually becomes a friend who sometimes mentors me (John Monahan).

  • A willingnesss to "think outside of the box," challenge themselves and their advisors. In addition, something that is very hard to articulate, but something like an ability to see the "gestalt" of a problem or issue, i.e. to think expansively and nonlinearly (Stephen L. Golding).

  • My ideal student can write well, is willing to do what it takes to make something happen, is willing to listen and learn, and can teach me things that I do not know (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • Bright, self-motivated, and able to focus primarily (if not exclusively) on the process of evaluation (or research) with a degree of detachment from others' (lawyers, in the case of evaluations; theorists, in the case of research) aspirations for what their product (assessment; research results) will show (Norman Poythress).

  • The ideal student is one who is willing to learn and to experience multiple and varied opportunities to develop multiple and varied skills. Many students think that they know enough and do not need to learn or develop further. This is so incorrect. We all continue to grow and develop; it just takes longer and more effort to do this when one is out of graduate school and has that many more things that he/she is expected to do. Mentees should be open to attempting to learn as much as they can from many different sources. The best mentees are those that go and teach themselves a skill or an area of research and then use the mentor to refine their skills or knowledge. In my view, the mentor is not there to teach fundamental skills or knowledge, but rather, is there to help the student refine their skills and to bring them to a higher level of expertise. To be better mentees, students can make more of an attempt to teach themselves the fundamentals and then be ready for the mentor to take them to a higher level of knowledge or skill by engaging the mentor in his or her areas of expertise (Patricia Zapf).

  • There's no ideal student for mentoring...just any student who wants to learn, knows something better than I do, and values my judgment while knowing that I'm not always right and sometimes need to be challenged (Thomas Grisso).

  • While I don't have an ideal student in mind, I do appreciate several attributes in those I mentor:good critical thinking skills, writes well, works efficiently, is timely and respects deadlines, takes the initiative and suggests steps that are good follow-up (in research or practice) once he/she has the requisite earlier experience, good social skills, and sufficient confidence and resilience to persevere through difficult times; sufficient humbleness to let experience be a good teacher (Kirk Heilbrun).

  • The ideal student should be excited about, and committed to learning for its own sake; the student should seek out additional materials and come to class or supervision prepared to share ideas, rather than just passively listening to the professor or supervisor (David L. Shapiro).

  • Research-aspirant students who know what they are getting into (have research experience and, perhaps most important, have enjoyed it) (Steven D. Penrod).

What is something you look for in potential graduate students?
  • Well, definitely look for obvious: those who can succeed in academia and those who have high scores on GRE. More importantly, like when we read their personal statements, what is special about this person – did they really look at this program and think this is a fit for them, and why is it a fit for them? Personality wise – maturity of judgment; that is hard to discern, and you’d be amazed at some of the silly personal essays we throw under the rug, or things that people do over the phone or in person. I always want to see the person is well-rounded, and that they really value the program. You also want to see if the person will tell you the negatives of the program, because it means they really took the time to think about how they fit with the program. Also, remember that the individuals that you see when you interview for a job or for graduate school have egos, and some of them have really big egos, and you need to value that and be conversant in what they do there and what their research is. And, I like to see how the applicant interacts with the current students. Finally, this is something I like – some places would love to have you decide in the first grade that you’d like to be a Forensic Psychologist – but, I like people who have had some life experience. You know, that you’ve done something than besides go to school. I didn’t go to grad school seriously until I was 27– I went out and lived with Navajos for three years, and that was so interesting. It helped me get into the University of Houston because it set me apart from everyone – so, tell them what sets you apart from everyone else. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I have radar for passion, for the student who declares, “I want to do this for a living.” After thirty years teaching undergraduates, I've learned to get excited not only by intelligence but by passion, or as I see it, motivation on steroids. (Saul Kassin)

  • We [at Sam Houston] look to see if they possess (to the best we can estimate/determine) the intellectual ability and work ethic to meet the demands of training and to complete the requirements for training. So, that includes (beyond intelligence and work ethic) emotional competence and judgment. Those skills aren't always evident in the application process and, often, we see evidence of poor judgment versus good judgment if they do something ridiculous (like, get drunk in a social situation and make a fool of themselves). (Jorge Valero)

Looking back to your graduate, legal, or post-graduate training, was there a particular experience/opportunity that you were glad/thankful to have accomplished/experienced? How did this experience/opportunity contribute to your current success?
  • Even though I ended up not getting a clinical PhD, I'm glad I had some clinical training in grad school. My experiences in working with clients for assessment and psychotherapy has informed my research with offenders. Along the same lines, I am glad I had the opportunity to collect data from offenders—face to face interviews with individuals with serious mental disorder involved in the criminal justice system. As a researcher, my work often involves practices to be implemented at the agency level. It is helpful for me to have had interactions with individuals that these policies affect directly. (Jennifer Eno Louden)

  • I had an opportunity to work as a student assistant in an ABPP workshop. Due to this opportunity, I was able to talk with so many interesting presenters which was a very memorable experience for me. (Darryl Johnson)

  • I had one or two teachers who mattered. And I am still thankful every day. (Michael Perlin)

  • Well, my career has been kind of strange. Military, forensic training, back to academia. So, I found that working in the forensic hospital for two years was pretty helpful. And then working in a general psychiatric unit was helpful, and then I taught. It's hard to say one thing because I did such different things and they affected me differently. In the forensic hospital – that was my first placement – so I learned how to see and interview/evaluate patients, consider psycholegal issues during admission evaluations, and work with the supervisors who did forensic evaluations. Being a teaching assistant taught me how to convey my knowledge/our knowledge to others. And those kinds of experiences kind of forced me to represent our field. Especially if you're teaching an Introduction to Psychology class, you may be the only psychologist they've ever seen, so they form the basis of their opinion of our field on you. (Jorge Varela)

  • I created internship opportunities with local law enforcement while in graduate school. This was in Miami and it helped me to learn what to do and what not to do in terms of working with people in this field. I made my mistakes there and learned my lessons while also developing a deep understanding of their job and how I could help. In my current position, I believe because of this experience, I work very closely and very easily gained access to local law enforcement. This has expanded experiences not only for myself but also for my students. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I'd have to say that, it was really my experience as a grad student with good mentorship from Stan Brodsky and the sort of support the faculty provided for grad students doing research, helped me recognize I enjoyed doing research in forensic psychology. It was just a good environment. (Marc Boccaccini)

What knowledge do you have now that you wish you had in graduate school?
  • That graduate school is the best time of your academic life. Take advantage of all the learning opportunities before you while you can (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • That not everything needs to be done right away. That a longer-term outlook can be extremely beneficial. That graduate school should be thought of as a stage in one's career where they are able to develop multiple and varied skills that will set the foundation for everything that they do later on. It is so difficult to find the time to learn new skills and to continue to develop once you are out of graduate school and into a job. Graduate school really is the time to build the best foundation for yourself that you possibly can. If you treat it as a stage in your career, you are less likely to let is consume everything that you do and more likely to have a more balanced approach (Patricia Zapf).

  • More thorough exposure to the law and legal constructs that I eventually studied (Norman Poythress).

  • That I was going to make it out of graduate/law school and get a job. (Eve Brank)

  • How to separate a good research idea from one that is impractical, irrelevant, or otherwise flawed (Kirk Heilbrun).

  • A deeper understanding of the politics and economics of research and professional organizations, and the ways that this skews the development of knowledge and alternative ways of approaching an issue (Stephen L. Golding).

  • The kinds of things I know now that I wish I'd known then have to do with maturity of judgment and perspective. But those are gained only with further maturity, so I can "wish," but it wasn't attainable anyway (Thomas Grisso)

  • A broad based approach to both assessment and treatment and an understanding of the many ways in which psychology can be utilized. In my graduate school program, which was heavily psychodynamic there was only one approach taught; in addition there was no formal course in ethics, though ethical issues were always discussed in case presentations; I now have the broader base in assessment, treatment, and professional issues (David L. Shapiro).

  • I was well-trained, had good role models--could only have been pushed harder on mounting research (Steven D. Penrod).

  • The knowledge that it is the quality of publications, and not the number of publications, that counts. One good article that has something to say and says it well is much better than five okay articles that make overlapping points (John Monahan).

  • I always knew that I wanted to go into academia but I didn't realize how wonderful this career would be. I know the tenure process is difficult. And some Universities are less than fun places to work. But after 20 years, I still enjoy going to work. How many people can say that? I had no idea in grad school that I was picking such a great career (Narina Nunez).

  • I have a deeper understanding of statistics now than I did as a graduate student. Several years of teaching statistics has provided me with a depth of understanding that would have been quite useful in my graduate school days. In my classes I have encountered many students who feared statistics, which is really an unnecessary reaction. If they get to the point where they truly understand the logic of significance testing then they will have a greater understanding of every other area of psychology by sheer virtue of the fact that they will gain more when reading journal articles (Evan Harrington).

  • To be honest, the realization that the "Boulder model" (i.e., combining science and practice in clinical psychology) is fairly fictional. If you are in clinical psychology, there are two separate worlds out there - it is tough to nurture a research career AND be a dedicated practitioner. I wanted to be a clinician in school, and took tons of relevant courses and practica. I became a researcher, but practice when I can. In hindsight, that intensive clinical training has informed my research. Still, I advise my advanced undergraduates to think long and hard about where they want the train of graduate school to take them. If they are strongly oriented toward EITHER science OR practice, I encourage them to consider experimental psychopathology or counseling psychology, respectively. If they are not sure, clinical psychology may be best. I also wish I knew that professors were mere humans. It would have made them more approachable, and I probably would have asked more of them (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • Always remember that no matter how much book knowledge you may have, you really need to understand how the "real world" works. This takes time and commitment. There are no easy answers. Also don't take shortcuts. Competition is healthy but cooperation and support of others is golden (N. Dickon Reppucci).

  • It is often more productive for graduate students to work on professors' projects for their research rather than try to develop something that is completely independent of that work. The graduate program I was in did not have many active researchers on the faculty, but I think that still I would have been better off if I just attached myself to someone who was doing research even if it wasn't necessarily on a topic that interested me (Vicky Weisz).

What is the most important lesson you got out of graduate/law school? What would you consider is the most important skill or knowledge that a student should learn or take from their graduate/legal studies?
  • That what I was interested in had nothing to do with what my classmates and I were being trained to do. (Michael Perlin)

  • I think graduate school teaches you how to think about things but it certainly does not give you all the knowledge you need, you have to keep learning. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Besides what I said above about writing, I think grad school also taught me how to approach a problem the right way. I learned to not just think critically, but also how to access resources. Do not being afraid to ask for help, and recognize that, even after all these years of school, you still don't know everything there is to know. And, as a postdoc, I testified several times in court, and those experiences have really helped me be okay with saying “I don't know.” There were times when I should have known the information, but it did not change the fact I did not know at that particular time. So I learned to acknowledge what I don't know and then go find out. (Lisa Kan)

  • This will come as no surprise: Publish. Good teaching, service, and citizenship are all important qualities. But if you want a good position, or if you want to move from one job to another, whether academic or nonacademic, the work you have produced and published, and the people you've impressed along the way, will serve as your currency. (Saul Kassin)

  • I was advised to really focus on research methods and statistics. I took every single statistics course offered in the program. I also attended two to three day workshops on advanced techniques and attended the week long APA Advanced Training Institute on Longitudinal Data Analyses. It provided a foundation for my current work. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Figure out what you are good at and pursue it. If your passion and strengths are in research, do that. If your passion is in teaching, do that. Don't be molded into what someone else wants you to be. I teach at a community college and while I don't engage in research more than I want to, I regularly work with local law enforcement, fire, and emergency management. I also am the safety coordinator for our college and work very hard to manage all of our federal and state requirements. Working with these people and teaching is my passion and my strength so I found a position that would let me do all of these things. Some of them took time to develop or to create on my own but in a very short time I basically have the career of my dreams. (Ryann Leonard)

  • That lawyers can do something that others can't: they can represent people in matters that are often life-changing or life and death. To learn how to give wise counsel is something that is often ignored but is so so important. (Michael Perlin)

  • The ability to think critically. (Darryl Johnson)

What was the most helpful advice you received when you were applying for internship?
  • It was so long, and it was so different then – the imbalance wasn't so much – not like it is now. I applied to eight places. I went to Paul Bear at Baylor, and I asked him what I should be looking for, and he talked about careers with me. I wanted to go to an internship at the University of Hawaii because I had an interest in far eastern studies. But, Paul told me that the Hawaii site wasn't as highly rated as the internship I was offered in Colorado, which was one of the top ten at the time and would enhance my career by giving me the opportunity to meet giants in the field. He also steered me away from an offer at a very well respected northeastern site because it would not have been a good fit; he said, “That's a very psychoanalytic site, Mary Alice, and you're not psychoanalytic.” (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • Look for a good fit. The key to finding an internship is the same as finding a graduate program – i.e., besides having the necessary qualifications, there needs to be a good fit between the student and site. Students who are qualified, but don't match, often had a flaw in their internship application strategy, and the most obvious flaw is that they applied to sites at which they wouldn't be a good fit. (David DeMatteo)

  • I don't know. It's hard to remember now. Apply to a lot of places. I was applying to military internships so it was different for me. I don't know that I got all that much advice. Look into the places you want to apply – really think about where you're applying. (Jorge Varela)

  • Don't limit yourself—don't try to specialize too quickly or too early in your career. (Darryl Johnson)

  • I was told that it's only a year, so go somewhere that you want to go, and it's not going to make or break you career. That took a bit of pressure off of it. I was also told to pursue an internship in an area that would provide new clinical opportunities allowing me to gain depth and breadth. (Preeti Chauhan)

In what ways did your internship site help you obtain your first post-doc position or the next step in your career? 
  • Well I didn't do a postdoc because I went straight from internship to a faculty position. My internship had a heavy research component, so it was helpful to have an internship that allowed me to continue working on research, which is what I wanted to do in terms of a career. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • My supervisor had worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and knew the type of training I had received first-hand. (Darryl Johnson)

  • My internship site did a few things for me. First, they allowed me to present my job talk to the larger psychology department and I got feedback, which was really nice. They linked me up with researchers in my field. I also published while I was on internship and continue to collaborate with those individuals as a faculty member. (Preeti Chauhan)
Aside from externships, how can I enhance my clinical training during graduate school? When should a student start specializing their area of clinical training (i.e., concentrating on forensic populations or a specific type of therapy)? What mistakes have you seen students make when selecting extern/internships?
  • Research Experience. The more, the better. Ideally, an undergraduate honor's thesis, where you can really do something independently (or quasi-independently). My strongest undergraduate students have not only completed honor's theses, but have published them in strong peer-review journals. This sort of experience stands out head and shoulders above the typical applicant. Note: this advice is true even for students who want a purely clinical career. You're going to have to do research to get out of graduate school and knowing how to do that before you begin is the best evidence that you'll be able to get through the program. This process should begin immediately, but with the focus on classes and research. I would recommend waiting until the 3 rd year to do a specialized externship, after first getting some general training. Balancing forensic and general clinical experience is crucial throughout training. Overconfidence and anxiety. Some students believe they have a “sure thing” because a site where they did their externship training has winked at them when discussing internship. Usually this backfires. The flip side is excessive anxiety. Nothing can kill an applicant's chance more than appearing highly anxious. You should be comfortable with your skills and your limitations, and capable of discussing both. (Barry Rosenfield)

How can students with backgrounds primarily in law (e.g., JD students) but with an interest in forensic psychology become more involved in the field? Should law students with an interest in forensic psychology scholarship consider an LL.M. or JSD/SJD degree? What would you advise those students of?
  • New York Law School offers 13 courses in mental disability law studies in a blended online format. All courses are open to law students both in the US and abroad who are interested in learning more about the intersection between these disciplines, and law students can cross-register for these courses. Please contact our senior program administrator, Liane Bass, Esq. for details. Scope notes for the courses can be found at online.We also offer an M.A. degree in mental disability law studies (I believe it is the only one offered by an US law school) ; about half our students are law graduates with JD degrees. Distant students need not be in NYC for any sessions. (Michael Perlin)

  • The joint degree programs at Nebraska and elsewhere. I doubt these degrees [LLM or JSD/SJD] help much by themselves, but if they results in one or more well-placed articles that can be a boon to an academic career. (Christopher Slobogin)

What are the realities of seeking employment as a law professor?
  • Articles are key. Empirically-oriented pieces are all the rage. Clinical psychology is not. (Christopher Slobogin)

  • Realistically, there are very few slots available each year and the percentage of those that go to students from a handful of “elite” schools is astonishingly high. As time goes on, more and more law professors have Ph.Ds as well, but the largest percentage of these, I believe, are in economics or in philosophy. (Michael Perlin)

  • Law school faculty positions are notoriously difficult to get, but having two degrees might make you attractive to a law school because you can teach courses that others are less prepared to teach. (David DeMatteo)

  • Most law schools hire graduates from the so-called “elite” law schools. Students who graduate with the JD and PhD will have to seek employment in law schools that appreciate interdisciplinary training. Law review and clerkships are the royal road to law professorships. Another helpful recommendation—enroll in an LLM program at one of the elite schools. (Donald Bersoff)

How do you manage law review versus scientific journal publishing?
  • I split my business. Certainly, there is a pronounced bias in favor of law review publishing for non-tenured law professors (imposed by tenure committees). I have written (negatively) about this in a Blog post, “Ignore advice” (that has been reprinted on three or four law teaching blogs). (Michael Perlin)

  • Membership on law review takes 2 of the 6 years a joint degree student is in law school. There is plenty of time to present at psychology conferences and to participate in journal publishing. (Donald Bersoff)

  • The writing styles for law reviews and scientific journals are very different, but it's important for joint-degree professionals to publish in both outlets. One of the benefits of joint-degree training is being able to communicate with mental health and legal professionals, and publishing in law reviews and scientific journals is an obvious way to speak with a range of professionals. There are also several hybrid law-psychology journals that are a perfect fit for joint-degree researchers and scholars, and they provide a useful forum for communicating with mental health and legal professionals. (David DeMatteo)

  • If you are a law professor focus on law reviews until after tenure. Then even-steven, because you want exposure to both disciplines. (Christopher Slobogin)

  • I do more scientific than law review work, but some research/scholarship just makes more sense in a law review than in a scientific journal. I really just let the type of research I'm doing dictate where I try to publish. (Eve Brank)

How does law school teaching compare to undergraduate and graduate psychology teaching? Do you have any advice for mastering law-school-style teaching?
  • Law school teaching is more regulated, e.g., grading on specified curves. Unlike teaching in a psych dept, first year courses are seen as important undertakings. As for preparation, there are opportunities for new law professors to take training in how to teach. (Donald Bersoff)

  • More students, no graduate students to help write or research, less lecture. Think of class in terms of prosecution v. defense, plaintiff v. defendant arguments. (Christopher Slobogin)

  • My big realization with teaching a law school class was that the students are really going to do what I'm teaching them. The students ask questions about how to talk to clients about issues and how to structure forms, etc. The first time this happened I felt like I was jumping out of my ivory tower of theoretical musings and into the jungle of the real world. (Eve Brank)

  • Law school teaching is unique in its use of the Socratic method. I developed my teaching style by imitating law professors who I found to be effective and engaging. Although it's not typical, I sometimes use the Socratic method in my psychology courses because I've found that the learning that results from that process tends to stick a bit more. (David DeMatteo)

  • Not all law school teaching is “Socratic method,” but it certainly differs from undergrad teaching. My non-JD degreed students in the MA program tell me that our courses are far more rigorous than anything they dealt with in either their graduate or undergraduate psychology courses. The n is not robust enough for this to be more than anecdotal, though. (Michael Perlin)

Beyond academia, how else can law-trained individuals contribute to the field?
  • Research at places like FMHI, engaging in practice and then describing the experiences. (Christopher Slobogin)

  • There is so much work needed to be done in the intersection of international human rights and mental disability law that screams out for individuals with joint degrees and “crossover” training. There are NGOs working in this area. There are many areas of sophisticated litigation for which this cohort of individuals is especially suited. And much more. (Michael Perlin)

What do you typically apprise students interested in pursuing dual-degree training of?
  • First of all, I call the kind of program Drexel has “joint degree” rather than dual degree. Joint degrees are integrated programs where universities permitting dual degrees allow the student to pursue both degrees but on one's own. As for apprising students, I inform them of the length of the program, that entrance is highly competitive (but that it is fully funded), and that successful applicants usually have had research experience (and like to do research). (Donald Bersoff)

  • The key questions I ask students who are interested in joint-degree training is why they're interested in earning both degrees, what they plan to do once they graduate, and how they plan to use both degrees. A joint-degree program is a huge time commitment, so students should obviously have a sense of how such training fits into their professional plans. I also emphasize that joint-degree professionals need to find a niche. It's not enough to have both degrees; you need to find a job that enables you to utilize your joint-degree training, which may mean educating potential employers and colleagues about the nature of your joint-degree skill set. (David DeMatteo)

  • I first try to figure out why they want dual-degree training. If their answers seem to be “more degrees are better than fewer degrees,” then I generally discourage it. I also provide for them options other than dual degrees that are often better choices for some students. (Eve Brank)

How or in what ways have you been able to utilize both degrees in your work?
  • Research: My research cuts across clinical and legal domains, and having both degrees has given me a solid foundation in both areas. Also, as a researcher who often works with courts and legal professionals, having a law degree has enabled me to get my foot in doors that are not typically opened to researchers. For example, judges are understandably concerned when they hear researchers talk about randomly assigning criminal defendants to treatment conditions, particularly when the judge is blind to the conditions, but having a law degree has perhaps given me some credibility in their eyes (even if it's not necessarily deserved!), which makes them more likely to consider the research idea. Clinical-Forensic: Although a law degree is not necessary to practice forensic psychology, having a law degree has made it easier for me to communicate with attorneys who retain me for evaluations. Teaching: I teach integrative law-psychology courses, such as Mental Health Law, that cut across both fields. (David DeMatteo)

  • I am fortunate to have a position that allows me to use both of my degrees. My tenure home is in the Department of Psychology, but I have a courtesy appointment at the law school. I teach in both places and I have students who are getting dual degrees. Most importantly, I do research that rests on both degrees (although I don't think it is necessary to have a dual degree to do psych-law research). (Eve Brank)

  • It led me to engage in some unique experiences—I have had the privilege of developing three JD/PhD programs in Law & Psychology at prestigious universities and it led me to become the first general counsel of the American Psychological Association. In that latter capacity I drafted 50 amicus briefs representing APA's views and scientific findings to the US Supreme Court as well as lower courts. My dual degree enabled me to translate psychological research in ways that judges could understand and to show how relevant it is to the legal issue at hand. (Donald Bersoff)

What sorts of things should dual-degree students focus on during their training?
  • Besides learning the foundational components of each field, joint-degree students should seek to develop foundational skills that lie at the intersection of law and psychology. One benefit of completing a formal joint-degree program, as opposed to earning both degrees separately, is acquiring a solid foundation of skills in law-psychology (not just law and psychology). The knowledge and skills that lie at the intersection of law and psychology must be developed, and graduate school is the obvious place for that to begin. (David DeMatteo)

  • Honestly, they need to be the best they can be in both settings. What is nice about the dual degree is when the training for one complements the training of the other. (Eve Brank)

  • To attain as many relevant credentials as possible. I urge students to become members of law review and to try to graduate with honors. Joint degree students typically do well in the doctoral program; it is in law school that garnering credentials is more difficult. I would also recommend a judicial clerkship. (Donald Bersoff)

How would you advise a dual-degree student deciding whether to take a bar exam?
  • I always advise it. I've jokingly said that the attorney thing is my fall back job. Just as comprehensive exams in psychology provide students with a time to bring all their knowledge together, I think the bar exam allows a student to do the same for their legal degree. It is definitely a miserable experience and not something I want to do again, but I'm definitely glad I did take (and pass!) a bar exam. (Eve Brank)

  • I believe it is essential that joint degree students take the bar exam. In my experience I have never been able to predict successfully what I will be doing 5 years from the present. Students may not think they want to practice law in the future but, obviously, without the license to practice law they will never have that opportunity. Similarly, I urge students to take the psychology licensing exam for the same reasons. (Donald Bersoff)

  • The key question is whether the student anticipates practicing law at some point. Although it's difficult to see too far down the road, most graduates have a sense of whether they'll ever practice law. If they don't think legal practice is in their future, then it doesn't make much sense to spend three months prepping for the bar exam. (David DeMatteo)

Dual-degree students often express an interest in public policy work; can you comment on how one would go about pursuing policy-type employment?
  • A good way to prepare for a public policy position is by conducting research that has clear policy implications. Demonstrating an ability to translate research findings into policy-relevant considerations is also a huge asset, so it's important to make sure that your publications address policy considerations. Seeking a part-time or volunteer position at a think tank, a research institute that focuses on policy-relevant work, or other policy-type organization would be a good way to get your foot in the door. (David DeMatteo)

  • The prime time to develop experience in public policy work is during the summer. After my first year in law school I worked for Marian Edelman's Children's Defense Fund. After my second year I spent the summer working for what is now DHHS (then DHEW) in the Office of General Counsel doing civil rights litigation. Many big cities, like Philadelphia, have several organizations that work in the public interest and some law schools, like Drexel, have cooperative and pro bono opportunities. (Donald Bersoff)

  • I don't have one of these jobs, so my advice may not be all that good. My only advice would be to try to do some work like this while in graduate school. My university has a number of centers that focus on policy where students can often get some hands-on experience. If your university does not have something like that, then try to find someplace in your community (or apply for a fellowship to work someplace in D.C.) that will let you volunteer or work to give you this experience. (Eve Brank)

What are your “keys to success” in productivity? In teaching? In mentoring?
  • Productivity: Be disciplined, accept what you can handle, stretch a bit and work harder if fascinating prospects come along, deliver a good product on time. Keep a schedule and stick to it. Build in time to relax and reflect. Say no to some things, but learn to do so gracefully and suggest alternatives when the person needs someone. Be focused; don't try to do everything, but develop some areas that you do very well. 
  • Teaching: Master the subject. Understand the process of communication and learning. Convey enthusiasm and model professionalism. Make it interesting for students. Push them but do not overwhelm them. Respond quickly and politely to all requests from students. Mentoring: Model what you would like your mentees to become, but respect their differences and how their goals will differ from yours. Strive to achieve a balance between closeness and distance that works for you. Remember the things you most appreciated about your own mentors, or about individuals who have been helpful to you in your career. Push them. If they fall, give them as much help getting up as they need (Kirk Heilbrun).
  • (1) self-motivation, (2) access to very bright and cooperative colleagues (Norman Poythress). Productivity? Work hard. Learn how to write well. Find someone who knows his or her grammar and is a ruthless editor and learn from him or her. Know the difference between important and unimportant questions and spend your time pursuing only the important ones. Teaching? Do what you say you are going to do. Do your very best to respect your students and be accessible to them. Remember what you loved about your favorite professors and try to emulate them. Mentoring? Do what you say you are going to do. Genuinely care about your students and be accessible to them. Try to emulate the desirable characteristics of advisers that you admired and avoid emulating their shortcomings (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • I like doing what I'm doing -- it's not easy to be good at something you hate. I think another part of it is that I have lots of to-do lists and an obsessive need to mark things off those lists! (Eve Brank)

  • Good time management! Set aside the time to do something and then do it in that allotted time. If you have something that you need to write, be sure to write a piece of it (even if it is only a paragraph) every day. In teaching, the key to success is to be receptive and responsive to your students. Realize that you can learn as much from them as they can from you and that the dynamics of the interactions between "teacher" and "student" serves as an important source of learning. Other students can learn fro the interactions that a teacher has with his or her students. In mentoring, be receptive and responsive to your mentees. Realize that you can learn from them as well as they can learn from you. Reply to email messages and be timely in giving feedback. Feedback should always be constructive and specific (Patricia Zapf).

  • With respect to productivity, I'm the wrong person to ask. I have never been as productive as my colleagues because of both a depressive cognitive style coupled with obsessiveness. Thus, it has been difficult to me to meet my own expectations. As a consequence, I have produced some very good things, but also not produced some very good things that I should have produced. For teaching, I have been a successful teacher and that comes from painstakingly tracking literatures, and giving students a challenging set of questions to be answered, i.e. reaching beyond the obvious. Anyone with enough intelligence and general intellectual skills can learn the basics, but to learn the hidden assumptions and to think of what needs to be known about a topic, one has to be challenged. The other key is to ask students to write, write some more, and then write some more. Crafting well thought out ideas in written form is becoming a lost art and the Procrustean Box of "APA" and "journal style" cripples good writing. In mentoring, I have only one rule. Give them all the intellectual support and stimulation you can and get out of the way (Stephen L. Golding).

  • Positioning myself to get bright, ambitious, self-starting, focused and skilled students who enjoy research--they take care of the productivity and as for mentoring, they mostly need an occasional "yes, that is a good idea and here is why"--until they can answer that question for themselves. Teaching: position yourself so that teaching supports research--teach courses that keep you at the cutting edge of your research area... not always easy to accomplish though (Steven D. Penrod).

  • I am not sure if I have achieved success in productivity or mentoring (I don't teach), but perhaps the most important thing that I do is to try to really focus on just one thing at a time. When writing I try to have blocks of time that are devoid of other intellectual engagement. Doing laundry or walking the dog doesn't interfere - it gives time for thinking, but for me, going from one intellectual engagement to another makes it very difficult and I waste quite a bit of time getting back into the writing project (Vicky Weisz).

  • The keys to success in scholarship are to get up early, to go to bed late, and to work in between. Also, it helps to develop a feel for when something is "done." Sending something off when it really could use more work is bad; obsessively revising something that is already as good as it's going to get is worse (John Monahan).

  • In productivity: As much as possible, avoid taking on jobs, projects, and responsibilities that don't seem fun. (After graduate school, of course.) In teaching: Remember what you liked about teachers you liked, and what you didn't like about the ones you didn't. In mentoring: I haven't yet found my "key" to good mentoring. A key to avoiding bad mentoring is to remember that expecting the student to become like you is not the objective (Thomas Grisso).

  • Research productivity (publishing articles) is the number one criteria for getting a job in academia. For those interested in trial consulting, policy positions, etc. it's not as important but can still give you an advantage. So, it's important for grad students to write up their papers and send them out. It's easy to start a new project and let your old data sit there. (Believe me I have plenty of those projects myself). But you have to force yourself to write the papers and get them out. As far as teaching goes, I'd identify the best teachers in the department. See if you can T.A. for them (or at least visit their classes). Then you can learn from the best. Also, don't let 1 or 2 bad teaching evals get you down. We all get a few bad ones (and it's the personal ones that bother most). I can still remember the eval I got from one student after my first semester teaching. The student said I should brush my hair before coming to class. The saddest part of this story is that it was my first time teaching and I DID brush my hair before going to every class! I still remember that comment after 20 years. I had a great mentor in grad school and I try to follow his example. He always seemed to put us first, and he did everything to promote his students. He still does. When you have students you want them to help you in your work. But you also have to remember to help them (Narina Nunez).

  • Working with fun, smart, generally great people. People with different skill sets, different knowledge...or just plain more intelligence than me. People I enjoy. This works for everything - productivity, teaching, mentoring, clinical skills. There are great role models out there (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • 1) productivity: Work on problems that really interest you--don't research something because it is easier and will bring more publications and presentations. Develop a social climate in your research lab that encourages cooperaton and well-being while at the same time rewarding initiative. 2) teaching: above all else don't be boring and don't trivialize students' responses. Don't pack so much into lectures that you overwhelm the students and in seminars pursue targeted but innovative discussion even at the expense of not getting all of the "assigned readings" on the table. 3) Mentoring: Be supportive and receptive to your students. Do not have all the answers, even letting them make their own mistakes. For graduate students I always consider them my junior colleagues and that I will learn from them. It is a two way street, and I do not have all of the answers (N. Dickon Reppucci).

What advice do you have for graduate students getting close to completion of their PhD/PsyD with respect to obtaining a job?
  • Do some research or some training or some clinical work that will make you truly unique, to stand out from the rest of the students (David L. Shapiro).

  • Don't try to find the "job for life." You are entering a developmental stage, so what's right for you now might not continue to be right as you develop further (Thomas Grisso)

  • Figure out what type of job you would like and then ask others in that same area for the inside scoop on what it is really like. Tailor your applications to be specific to the particular job but be sure to be honest. If you are not honest and instead try to make yourself something that fits perfectly with the job, chances are you will not be happy with the job once you get it. Don't try to change who you are for a job (Patricia Zapf).

  • Naturally this will depend on the type of job one is looking for, but a good piece of advice is to be prepared. Each day think to yourself how you can advance your professional development. This might involve spending time periodically updating the vita, going to conferences, discussing issues of interest with colleagues, or even just sitting down with a good biography of a famous psychologist. Being able to speak knowledgeably about your chosen field will be invaluable at any job interview, so don't wait for the interview to start training yourself (Evan Harrington).

  • Do everything possible to fill your curriculum vitae with whatever is expected by the types of employers you are considering. If you want a job at a research university, then get publications. If you want to go to a teaching college, then teach one or more courses and do it very well, and supervise some undergraduate students in research (Bette L. Bottoms).

  • Don't rush into a job and make sure the work environment is suited to your own personality and interpersonal needs. The most prestigious jobs often come with pressures and expectations that many are not suited for. With respect to obtaining jobs, social networking through one's advisor, but more importantly through organizations such as AP-LS are indispensable (Stephen L. Golding).

  • It completely depends on the type of job. Know what the qualifications are for the job you seek and make sure that you can demonstrate that you have them. For an academic job, the three things that you need are publications, publications, and publications. It also helps to have taught some classes (intro and research methods are good to have taught because almost every school can use someone else who can teach these classes) and have very good student evaluations. Don't fall into the trap of teaching too much if it takes away from getting manuscripts under review. Having some experience with grant-writing doesn't hurt either (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • I have an index card hanging behind my home computer that says, “Enjoy the process.” Much of an academic's life feels like a series of steps moving to the next level. If I'm not careful, I could end up at the last level and only remember struggling to get there. As a student is nearing the end of graduate school it is easy to feel like you are about to reach the top of the hill, but life is a series of hills. Some are certainly bigger than others, but if you only focus on enjoying life when you're coasting downhill, then you will miss half (if not more) of what your life has to offer. If you find you just cannot enjoy the process, then you might need to find a new process. (Eve Brank)

  • As students near the completion of their degrees, some of the basics that help in getting a job (publications, close positive relationships with professors who can write recommendations) are already going to be in place or not. At the point when the job hunt starts I think it is most important to talk to all your professors and others in your network, cast your net wide in terms of the kind of job you consider, and keep a thick skin. The first job is often the most difficult to get and many people who you now view as very successful often struggled to get that first job. So keep perspective, send out lots of applications, and stay busy while you look for that first job. (Vicky Weisz)

  • Throughout your grad career you should be attending conferences and getting to know the people in your field. Luckily Psyc/Law is still a small enough field where you can get to know people. Introduce yourself to people doing the work you do, attend talks, ask questions, etc. That way, by the time you are getting close to being done, people actually know who you are. Mistakes I've seen grad students make is to think that going to a conference is a good time to party with friends. (I'm not saying that you can't do some partying but make sure it's well away from the conference). Getting drunk and making a scene in front of people gets you known but it sure won't get you that job in a couple of years (Narina Nunez).

  • This is a huge topic, and the source of several articles that are available to students. Mostly -- network and publish. You should have been doing both throughout your graduate career, with the help of your mentor. Do not wait until you're close to completion of your degree, or it will be too late (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • Do not panic. Clearly evaluate what you want to do, don't be swayed to pursue jobs that your advisor wants you to unless you want them too. If you are not ready for a job directly out of graduate school, consider a post-doctoral fellowship. Apply broadly. Once you get interviews, remember that they are evaluating you but that you are also evaluating them. If you've gotten this far, you clearly have many skills and there will be a place for you even if it does not fall into your lap (N. Dickon Reppucci).

  • Remember there are no ideal jobs, particularly first jobs. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of any position you might assume. Expect that you will probably move a couple times, taking positions that come closer to your interests and strengths. Among the advantages of a given position, consider the built in (often hidden) time demands that can keep you from accomplishing your goals. Look carefully at the supervision/mentoring you will receive. If it is a tenure track position, how committed are they to helping junior faculty members toward tenure and promotion? If it is a clinical position, what is the nature and quality of the clinical supervision you will be receiving? Be flexible, but also think carefully about your own priorities and how they fit with those of the organization. Look for positions in which organizational priorities and your personal priorities overlap substantially (Kirk Heilbrun).

What helps make the transition from student to early career professional a smooth process?
  • It's important to set proximal and distal professional goals, continue to rely on your mentor for advice and career guidance, get involved with your flagship organization, and be resourceful in looking for (or creating) a professional position that meets your needs. (David DeMatteo)

  • In graduate school, make the most of your training opportunities. I wrote a successful grant. I published. Do independent research and run your own projects while you are in graduate school so that when you transition to being an early career faculty member you are well-aware of how to do those things. Also, I would recommend supervising undergraduates as a graduate student to prepare for supervising graduate students as a professional. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Having others who had gone before me help me know what to expect. Also, I was willing to discuss concerns with my new colleagues who were incredibly receptive to the newbie on the block. Not everyone has such great or willing new colleagues so rely on past senior graduates. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I think that if you understand the career you're going into, that [understanding] helps. I think that if you have a good foundation of basic clinical skills, then that helps, either in general clinical work or forensic practice. Even though I did nothing but forensic assessments last year, I can't imagine doing them without good basic clinical training. I think you need a strong basis of clinical skills before you specialize into forensics. It's not like you're just administering a test – without the clinical skills, you don't know what questions to ask to elicit certain things, or make sense of the person in front of you. There may be something about the defendant – something you're not quite sure what it is – and, without good basic clinical training, you can't start to hypothesize what that might be – are they lacking social skills, or are they psychotic? I think a good Forensic Psychologist should be able to explain why the client's psychiatric symptoms are related to the legal issue at hand. Without good training, you wouldn't be able to explain that. (Lisa Kan)

  • I think trying to choosing environments where you have more experienced individuals to draw from in terms of helping you make decisions and modeling the difference between student and professional life. (Daryl Johnson)

What did you wish you knew before starting the job search after graduation?
  • Finding the right job is an iterative process, so you might take a job immediately after graduation that fills certain needs (e.g., hours for licensure, research experience), but not other needs (e.g., salary, geographic location). If the job you take after graduating is not your ideal job, then at least make sure it's positioning you to get closer to your ideal job. (David DeMatteo)

  • I never really started the job search because I got this position through a fellowship, so my career path is different than what other people will go through. I knew I had the position before I went on internship. And, part of this came through making connections with people – my mentors knew I was interested in research – and they said, “Hey, here is this opportunity and do you want to apply?” (Lisa Kan)

  • To start before graduation and to gain more knowledge about the ins and outs of the jobs I was applying for. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I wish I knew just how competitive it is out there on the job market. There are lots of highly qualified young academics who are struggling to find positions. Don't feel bad if you don't get an offer the first (or second) year you are on the market. There are very few positions out there and it may take some time to find one. (Jennifer Eno Louden)

What advice can you offer about maintaining balance between your professional life and your personal life?
  • Rather than let your professional life define your personal life, strive for it to be the other way around. For me, I have some core personal beliefs that guide my professional decisions and daily life. (Eve Brank)

  • You have to be consciously doing it [maintaining the balance], and you really need to think about several things you can do at scheduled times with other people that have nothing to do with psychology. I ride horses – it's therapy for me, and I meet people who have nothing to do with psychology. Some people do volleyball, or run track, and it doesn't have to be athletic – you can belong to a book club. And, you need more than one type of thing because you can be so isolated as a psychologist. When you do a lot of communication with the psychologists around you, and that's where your colleagues are – there's another world out there beyond psychology. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • That it is hard. That you should certainly try to do it, and it can be challenging at times. One of the nice things about being a student, faculty member or researcher is that it's not a 9-5 job, and it gives you a great deal of flexibility. But, it also means you might be working late hours to meet a project deadline and that can sometimes creep into your personal life. And, you need to find some way that works for you to keep that from happening – I don't know a particular way that works for everyone. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • Hobbies: fish, play an instrument, go to the gym, etc. (Michael Perlin)

  • I can't help here because I didn't have a personal life while in school or early in my career. After a few years in the field I can say that you need to set which is your priority (personal or professional) and make sure your mate has the same perspective. Think about which is going to be more important to you at the end and set boundaries early. How does work/life balance work in the first 5 years after graduation? The first couple years are heavy into work, getting established and developing your work character. The more you dedicate to the job, the more valuable you are. This is good and bad. You have to discuss with your partner your goals and what you think you need to do to accomplish them. Family support is invaluable. (Ryann Leonard)

  • There's always work to be done and sometime's it's really important to be able to put that work aside and focus on your life. Spend time doing things you enjoy so you don't burn out. At least take one evening or a day for yourself. What maintains your motivation? My scientific inquisitiveness. Each set of results for me brings about ten different research questions that I really am curious about and want to answer. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • You have to work at it otherwise, one will dominate the other…you have to actively do this or inevitably, one will win out over the other. (Darryl Johnson)

  • It's easy to let your professional life encroach upon your personal life (and vice versa sometimes), so you must be vigilant in making sure that doesn't happen. Setting boundaries, recognizing when your balance is off, and making sure to carve out time for non-work activities is key. (David DeMatteo)

  • This is a huge concern, especially for parents of young children. You have to take the time to take care of yourself, doing something that relaxes you. That could be anything enjoyable, such as taking a walk or going for a drive. I have found that scheduling my time helps. I block out family time and personal time, and I don't let work in during those times. Time with family and friends is crucial, and time to recharge makes the time you spend working more effective. (Jennifer Eno Louden)

  • Balance is the single most important thing in life. We are always in varying states of balance but when we fall off-balance in one way or another, something suffers. In graduate school, if you treat grad school like a stage in your career, you are more likely to treat it as a 9-5 job and to leave time for your personal life. This is very important. It is important to take care of yourself, to work out, to eat healthfully so that we can be our best. It doesn't matter whether you're in grad school, trying to make tenure, on internship, whatever, maintain some balance between professional and personal and make time for yourself and your family. For the last 10 years I have lived by the rule that I don't work on evenings or weekends and this ensures that I maintain enough time for myself and thus an adequate balance between work and home life. The key to success is maintaining firm boundaries between professional and personal (Patricia Zapf).

  • Develop and pursue non-work related interests early and force yourself to nurture them. Working 80 hours per week will (a) adversely affect the quality of your work in the long run, and (b) deprive you of the time needed to nurture things that you value in your personal life (Norman Poythress).

  • My advice is not to listen to me on this topic as I haven't figured out how to maintain a good balance. What I think might work is to view balance as a three-legged stool. Everyone says that to get tenure, you need the three legs of the academic stool: research, teaching, and service. Take one of the legs away, the stool won't balance (or more importantly, you won't get tenure). Similarly, I think that to lead a balanced life, you need to attend to three things: your professional life, your family, and yourself. If you fail to attend to any of those three things, your stool is going to topple over. If any of you figure out how to do keep your stool from toppling, please let me know (Margaret Bull Kovera).

  • I can't speak to other jobs, but I think the most successful people in research careers are successful because they find research endlessly amusing and are not "serious" or distressed about it in a way that conflicts with or spills over into other life domains. If it is not amusing, one might as well drive a taxi 9 to 5 (or be a lawyer or a....) (Steven D. Penrod).

  • This is difficult, though it comes down to the same basic principle: making oneself take time off to do personally important matters. There is always additional work that can fill the time, but we have to set aside time for ourselves and our families (David L. Shapiro).

  • Be disciplined; Make time for family, friends, hobbies and do not let them be overwhelmed by professional demands; If one must intrude on the other for a short period of time, make sure it is short--and keep everyone informed about what you are doing and when it will end; Treat both your personal and professional lives as though they were live things to be nurtured, cared for, and grown (Kirk Heilbrun).

  • I've never been able to do it as well as I see others do it, so I'm not qualified to advise. One strategy that I've discovered, however, is to blend them, so that they are not so distinct (Thomas Grisso).

  • It took me two failed marriages to figure it out. That is why I responded above with an encouragement to have a sense of identity beyond "graduate student" or "professional." Mentors need to spend a great deal of time with their students helping them figure out who they are, or more importantly, who they are not. In the modern internet age, it is even more difficult, since it is possible to work from any location, thus work tends to become a 24/7 affair. I think that professional development, which means finding that balance, should be a required "issue" in graduate student education. The reality is that no one who really understands the difficulty of this balance ever can realistically claim to have achieved it -- it's a goal and a process that never stops (Stephen L. Golding).

  • Travel that mixes business and pleasure has always been good for me. To run into and out of a meeting at a great place is a waste of life. Take an extra day or two to see the sights. Never miss AP-LS, and when you go, hang out with people you don't see every day. If you're lucky, the friends you make now you'll take with you the rest of your life (John Monahan).

  • If you have discovered the answer to this please let me know. When I first entered my Ph.D. program I heard the other students kicking around the old saying that grad students have a high failure rate in their personal lives. This is probably true in any area where people work hard at what they do. Perhaps the key is being able to handle stress without directing it at those who are near and dear to you (Evan Harrington).

  • You can certainly have a personal life outside of graduate school. However, it is not going to be the same personal life as your college buddy who now works at a 9 - 5 job. That is, you cannot graduate with the record of excellence necessary to excel if you work on your degree from 9 - 5 M - F. Nor is your life after graduate school going to necessarily be 9 - 5. But neither is the life of any high-achieving person in any profession (Bette L. Bottoms).

  • I have never felt like I've been very good at this—At least, not until now when I am semi-retired! It's very hard to maintain balance with so many demands from family and work (especially, I think, for women). If possible, I recommend semi-retirement right from the beginning! Seriously, I think there's no simple answer here- In general, the harder you work, the more productive you will be. However, for me, I think that getting an hour of physical exercise (preferably outdoors) in the middle of the day instead of eating a big lunch has been crucial to maintaining a positive attitude. It's surprising how often I'll be thinking about a problem, and after my noon-hour exercise, without having consciously thought about the problem for an hour, I'll come back to the office and I'll see the solution (Marnie E. Rice).

  • During grad school you often have to throw the balance more towards your professional life but there's no reason you can't have fun as well. In fact, I think most people look back fondly on their graduate years. You make some great friends and they continue to be your friends throughout your adult life. If your professors start telling you to go home and take some days off, you've put too much emphasis (and time) into your professional life. If they start to ask you where you've been all week, you've gone too far the other way. At least in grad school, it's better to err on the side of too much work than too little. But some balance is important as well (Narina Nunez).

  • Nothing earthshattering. I've learned that (a) work does not wholly define me or my life, (b) people - my friends, family, and colleagues - are a huge source of joy, and (c) I can only count on the present, and need to drink it in, with both "a" and "b" in mind. Every day, I do something that I enjoy, no matter what (e.g., cycling, dinner with friends). I also take breaks - sometimes a weekend, sometimes a week - when I've done poor maintenance and feel at the edge of burnout. The motto I was taught in graduate school is, "work hard, play hard." Generally, I do (Jennifer L. Skeem).

  • Do not let your professional life ruin your personal life. Strive for a balance. You want to integrate the two as much as possible. Neglect neither. Remember that your family is most important and that it will not matter if you have one less publication in the end, but it may well matter if you miss the fifth grade play that your son or daughter is acting in. Also remember that your partner deserves some of your quality time, even if you are on the "fast track" (N. Dickon Reppucci).

Any networking tips?  How has this worked to your advantage?
  • Go to conferences. Do not be afraid to approach people and email them beforehand to set up meetings. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Take the time to talk to people at conferences, and always interact with them in a professional manner because you can never tell how one contact may lead to another contact. And be open to other people’s points of view. I think my previous work and relationship with some of the faculty (at Sam Houston) has helped me get my internship and my postdoc because the training directors knew the faculty at this school, heard about our program, and thought really highly of it. (Lisa Kan)

  • Go to meetings, write emails, write articles, volunteer, etc. (Michael Perlin)

  • One networking tip I think is important: students establish networks with their fellow students. Your classmates now are your colleagues in the future – Marc Bocaccini and I were friends in grad school and because, we were friends when I left Alabama to pursue Air Force, he worked with me on my dissertation. I was eager to publish it (I didn’t have to because of the Air Force career) but I knew Marc was interested in academia, and he was willing to take the lead and help publish my manuscript. And, when I was thinking of leaving the Air Force, I was wanting to apply for postdocs and I wanted a pdf of my manuscript from Marc, and at that point Marc said, “Don’t bother with a postdoc. You’ve got all this experience in the Air Force, and we’re hiring here [at Sam Houston] and you’re better qualifications than anyone else who has applied, and you should apply.” He floated my c.v. around, and helped get me the job, and that was networking working for me. And by networking, I don’t always mean professional stuff; sometimes, it was watching SNL and drinking beer, eating on a grill. So, definitely realize your classmates are you colleagues in the future; that’s why getting along with students and making an effort to interact collegially and remembering they may have something to offer are so important in grad school. Any tips on working with faculty? For example, this student I collaborated with at John Jay – the reason I met him is because I was at a paper session at AP-LS and he’s a student of Cynthia Mercado and she’s done work on sexually violent predator risk assessment. I know her because she interned with Marc at their internship site, but she and I remembered each other and she introduced me to her student who was interested in multicultural issues, and she connected him to me. When she was on sabbatical, we worked on a paper together for AP-LS. Now, he did the bulk of the work, and he’s first author which is well-deserved – he initiated it, and also said, “I want to work, and I want to work on this, and this is what I’d like from you.” Another way to network is to go to conferences and to network. This girl from John Jay took an interest in a paper I presented, and I saw her in the poster session and she sent me an e-mail for this year’s AP-LS inviting me to join a symposium. So, use your professors and talk to people during conferences – easier to do during poster session because there’s something to talk about instead of just coming up to them cold. (Jorge Varela).

  • It's certainly helpful to know people in the field. I don't have any specific tips on how to go about meeting, or getting to know, others in the field other than contacting them if you have an interest in their work. It definitely is important, and it can be very helpful in many situations to have a person whom you can contact if you have questions or want to bounce an idea off of someone. As a faculty member/researcher, I do that all the time. If you're doing work, and you're doing good work as a student, then you'll meet people who are doing the same sorts of things. Perhaps the best way to network is to present at conferences and let the quality of your work speak for itself. If you present at conferences or publish papers, people will become familiar with your name. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • At its core, this is a really small field you see and talk to the same people over and over again. You never know when someone you meet casually can help you out significantly. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Do it. At conferences and in any other opportunities take advantage of networking. This is useful not only for research but for job opportunities down the line. The more people who know and have positive views of you, the better it will be for your career later on. I spent very little time with the people from my school when at conferences because it was my opportunity to “pick the brains” of others I didn't see every day in a more relaxed atmosphere. The connections I gained still help me today. Also, these connections and networking opportunities should extend outside of academia if that is where you plan to conduct research or work. If the opportunity is not there, make one. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I think it is critical and I think you should join your professional organizations and consider volunteering for committee work. Get involved in a variety of things; don't just stick to one thing – go for local, state, etc. involvement. Such work has been a major thing that's driven my career. Also, getting board certified opened up a lot of opportunities for me, because you can meet key people and you all become colleagues and volunteer to help each other. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • Networking is key in our field. Forensic psychology is still a relatively small field (compared to other specialty areas in psychology), so developing working relationships with others in the field is important. There are several ways to network, such as attending conferences, contacting professionals with similar interests to inquire about possible collaborations, and relying on your mentor to help you integrate yourself into the field. I've found that just about everyone in AP-LS is open, accessible, and willing to offer advice, so students shouldn't hesitate to introduce themselves to people. (David DeMatteo)

  • While I did a lot of “networking” in my younger days, I'm really not sure it did any good other than making a lot of friends. So now I have plenty of people to have dinner with at conferences, which is good – it makes the conferences much more fun to attend. But that's really all it gets you. For any real career enhancement, I think you need to let your CV do the talking. Networking will only get you so far – the rest has to be earned. The networker who is only in the room because he or she has schmoozed their way in doesn't get any real benefit from the exposure. You want senior scholars to speak highly of your accomplishments, not your social skills. But once you get into the room, just relax. Don't try to overwhelm people with your accomplishments or connections. (Barry Rosenfield)

What advice do you have for students submitting manuscripts for publication/ What is the most common mistake?

  • Starting out, students need a mentor who knows the process. There are some tricky issues along the way. The first is journal selection. I give a lot of thought to the journal to which I send a particular paper—depending on the topic fit, the magnitude of contribution, and so forth. If you have data that are both new and important, don't sell yourself short—go to the most visible, most respected, highest impact journal of relevance to the topic. Journal choice is an often-overlooked first consideration. In fact, I usually make this decision before I write the manuscript because of the implications it has for length, language, and assumptions you can make about the readership. If I am writing for the American Psychologist I am acutely aware that readers will include psychologists who are not forensic. With Psychological Science you have to know that they will only publish data that demonstrate something completely new; a variant on an existing phenomenon is not enough. With Law and Human Behavior , of course, you know you're aiming for the flagship journal of our field—a journal that rejects more manuscripts than it accepts. The newer Psychology, Crime and Law reaches a similar audience. The second bit of advice I have about submitting manuscripts for publication is don't ever submit a paper that you have not put through two, three, or four drafts. My students sometimes complain about the way I butcher their first efforts, but I butcher my own first drafts in the same way. I'd say produce a draft, work it over, give it to a friend to read, and then work it over again. You only get one shot at the journal you've chosen; make it your best shot. Third, I would encourage students to take some care in the letter they write to the editor accompanying their submission. It's in this letter that you indicate to the editor why you see the research as important and that particular journal as appropriate. Even more important is how you handle the possible next phase. Often you will get a revise-and-resubmit decision, an opportunity to address reviewer concerns in a revision and convince the editor that the revised paper is worthy of publication. What you produce at this time should be careful, conscientious, and responsive to the reviewers. At this stage, your revision letter to the editor--in which you describe what changes you made or did not make--can be as important as the revision itself. (Saul Kassin)

  • PROOF-READ CAREFULLY. I'm always amazed at how sloppy many authors are in what and how they write. If you want the reviewers to focus on the content, the worst thing you can do is sidetrack them with petty style or grammatical mistakes. Other top foibles are failing to think about your audience and the format of the publication (i.e., a journal article is NOT a cut-and-paste from the dissertation proposal – it needs to be much more concise and focused) and thinking about the work in a superficial manner. (Barry Rosenfield)

Do you have any specific advice for job interviews?
  • Remember that you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you. You want to be happy there. Constantly be thinking about fit and whether you can see yourself being happy in that department. Practice your job talk in front of a broad academic audience and get feedback. In the negotiation phase, get advice from people who have gone through it in the past. How could you have been better prepared for your job search? I wish I had better negotiation skills in terms of salary and startup funds. I did, however, talk to a ton of people and picked their brains about the entire process before I went on the job market. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Not to add extra stress to an already stressful situation, but remember that you are “on” the entire time. From the time you arrive at the airport to the time you return to the airport, you are on a job interview. It is fine to be yourself—it is important to be genuine. But be careful not to be too casual. Even though you are getting to know the people you may be working with, it is important to be professional. Off the cuff comments can hurt you in the eyes of some faculty. My second piece of advice for interviewees is to make sure you get time to recharge during the interview. The days can be grueling, and sometimes your hosts might forget to give you a break. Don't be afraid to ask for a few minutes to relax in between meetings. (Jennifer Eno Louden).

  • If you have training in forensics, don't pitch it as your only skill – present more as a generalist with specialized knowledge. I think you limit yourself if you specialize too much. I also think there is a temptation to over-sell yourself sometimes, it is important to come across as yourself in terms of what you have done and what you expect to do. (Darryl Johnson)

  • My advice comes more from being on hiring committees than from being a student – know your audience. Research the place and the people you are going to interview with. Even though the current trend is to be more relaxed in interviews, be careful. If you are interviewing with a group of people who have been in the job for decades, relaxed may not be what they are looking for. There are generational differences in perspectives regarding how you should approach a job. Dress, Discuss, and be able to present for any generational audience. Oh and please use complete sentences in both your application and your interview (yes, this is an increasing problem). (Ryann Leonard)

  • The most common feedback I got was: be yourself. It sounds really trite, but I think that if you weren't qualified, they wouldn't interview you. So, they look for a good fit between you and their environment. They're not going to waste your time or theirs if they don't think you're qualified, and there's certainly no shortage of qualified applicants. There were times when I interviewed that they [interviewers] didn't ask me about my experience. They already had my CV and they were more interested in learning who I was as a person, because they were going work with me for a year. Also, be professional – find the line between being a person and being professional; if you're too professional, then they don't know who you are afterwards. One of my best interviews was where I demonstrated that I was a person who was also knowledgeable about certain areas, rather than just reciting things off my CV and trying to impress them that way. That may not be true for all interviewers but that's the feedback I received. (Lisa Kan)

  • As I said before, I would seriously consider a first job in a large hospital or medical center. I also think that having a specialty of some sort will make you more marketable. The era of the great generalist is over for psychologists, and for medicine. There are very few people anymore who make a living as a general psychologist. Now, you need to ride your strengths and emphasize your specialty. That advice applies also to those applying for internship. Applying for a job is somewhat easier than applying for internship because there's not this imbalance, there are more choices, and there's no worrying over if the site is APA accredited or and are you going to get funding. I've had arguments with various people over this internship imbalance problem –I don't think the imbalance is going to magically resolve itself. How is that going to happen? Money is the root of all evil, here, and internships would hire more interns if they could charge for the interns' services but, Medicaid/Medicare and many insurance providers won't do that. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • Most universities have you rotate around through the faculty members' offices for individual 30 or so minute interviews. Sometimes those interviews are easy and comfortable and you and your interview are still chatting when the next interviewer comes looking for you. Other times, they're difficult and the clock ticks slowly by. Be prepared with questions about the faculty member's research and the department. It is okay to ask the same question to more than one person –it is actually good because you can see if you get the same answer. (Eve Brank)

How do you make them most out of conferences?
  • I learn and I socialize. It's also a great opportunity to help my students develop the skills necessary to advance in the field. The more junior the person is, the steeper the learning curve – even if it's nothing more than watching a bad presentation and thinking about what NOT to do. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • It's a good chance to go catch up with people. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • Trying to balance attendance at symposia and meetings with colleagues I get to see only once or twice a year is not easy. I do make it a point to walk through every poster session/social hour and try to see as many posters as I can and get a sense of what's in the pipeline. Often I have my best conversations in that venue about the work others are doing. AP-LS conferences are almost too good. I go with multiple purposes—to see people I know, to gather and disseminate information, and to meet with students. (Saul Kassin)

  • My favorite approach is to get to a conference location at least one day early. I like to have that day to see the city and the area (if it is someplace new for me). Then, when the conference starts I'm not tempted to skip a session so I can sightsee. I also go through my conference program before I arrive so I can map out the sessions I want to attend. I don't attend every session because it would be too overwhelming. I also like to use conferences as a time to meet with colleagues from other universities to discuss research. (Eve Brank)

  • I really value talking to people I know and meeting new people. I place a lot of emphasis on going to presentations and posters and meeting and talking to as many new people as I can. (Darryl Johnson)

  • I do find my core associations – AP-LS, IAFMHS, and EAPL, to be immensely satisfying. I continue to learn from my peers, both in terms of my own work as well as the broader field (which helps in my teaching, if not my clinical practice), and I've made many close friends. I also know precisely who to ask whenever a challenging question arises. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • APA is psychology's first, oldest, and largest professional organization. It is an essential publisher of our journals. It is also highly engaged in representing our research in the form of amicus briefs submitted to high courts. In my world view, it's important that forensic psychologists are first and foremost psychologists trained in the basic content, language, and methodological tools of psychology as a whole. I think being embedded in APA is good for us. We should also seek out linkages to APS. Of course, AP-LS is home. It's a fantastic organization. I say that because it has always had a strong student presence that is youthful and invigorating. When I attend AP-LS and see students thinking in new ways gaining new insights on topics I've spent years thinking about, well, it doesn't get better than that. I still pinch myself daily, amazed that anyone would actually pay me for such interesting work. As far as I can tell, most members of AP-LS are similarly passionate about what they're doing. As if being interested is not enough, it is also readily apparent that our work is of interest to the courts, to lawyers, and to the news media. Much of our work has direct implications for policy and practice. Not a lot of areas of science can make that claim. (Saul Kassin)

  • The three most important aspects of conferences are gaining presentation experience, seeing what new research is being conducted, and cultivating relationships with people who share similar interests (i.e., networking). The networking aspect of conferences is often overlooked, but it's particularly important for graduate students and early career professionals. (David DeMatteo)

  • I usually plan out which talks I'm most interested in attending and go to them. I also try to go to the social events at APLS because a lot of collaborations build informally. I always plan out a few meetings in advance with people I want to meet with about future papers and/or work with on current papers. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • I make the most out of them by ensuring I go to presentations that I would like to study – what are other people doing that are in subjects I'm interested in? I like to keep up on the latest research, and AP-LS is typically held in good cities, so it's a nice vacation. And also for the networking opportunities. In terms of going to presentations, I'd have to say go to new research, and research that confirms what you know. They serve very different functions – reading about data that you already know, or replicates some of the work you've done, will help you have confidence that your program of research has a solid foundation. If I had to choose between one or the other, then I'd choose the new stuff – how are they studying and why? If something's being researched to death I won't bother – let me try to add something new. (Jorge Varela)

  • Have a plan. I try to look through the program the first day or before, if possible, and pick out a couple things I really want to go to. And, it's a good place to reconnect with people I haven't seen in a while to maintain those relationships. (Lisa Kan)

What advice might you have for a student who wishes to collaborate with faculty from another university or institution?
  • I think it's more than OK. I think it's great. I encourage it. When students write to me and ask about my research—because they read an article, have a new idea, need stimulus materials, or have already collected some data--I am receptive. What could be more gratifying than to have others outside your lab interested in pursuing the kind of work you're doing? I don't think students should hesitate when inspired to do so. (Saul Kassin)

  • Really have your “ducks in a row” before you talk to them. Make sure you know what you want them to contribute and how you can further that along. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Don't be afraid to ask. I think that's one of the things that stop people from trying to not work with outside faculty. The worst they can do is say, “No,” and I think, as grad students, we're told no plenty of times and it's important to remember that it's not personal. (Lisa Kan)

  • I would say that the first step is to read several of their research articles and then be proactive about reaching out to them. In terms of course work and prior experience, you need solid training in research methods and statistics. This will make you more valuable to faculty members within and outside your institution. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • As they say in the Nike ads, just do it. There are very few faculty, even at the highest levels of the profession, who are unwilling to collaborate with a strong student from another institution. But first, do your homework. Think through your goals and motives very carefully BEFORE you begin this process – don't contact the faculty member with a vague or poorly thought-out idea. Your mentor may have the desire to work through vague ideas but that's not the job of the outside faculty member. While we are often receptive to other people's students, its not our job to do the most basic level of training and guidance. And remember that the point of the collaboration is because the outside faculty member brings a unique perspective or set of skills, not simply because you want a well-known person to know your name. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • Know that if you would like to collaborate – faculty members have a lot of demand on their time from their students. A student coming from another university indicates an additional demand. Someone soliciting and offering collaboration should know it is particularly important to have well-thought out ideas and to approach that collaboration with a willingness to work and do your share of the work, recognizing that you're placing a burden on someone (the professor). Don't approach it with some sense of entitlement. And, I can speak from personal experience – I've had fine collaborations from students at another university but it was because they came with fine ideas and they knew what they wanted from me. It worked beautifully, and I would look forward to doing it again under the same circumstances. Any resources in particular that you think contribute to a student's collaborative success? I think that the student's ability to master skills in what they've learned and the institution they're attending are at least partially responsible. Also, the university provides them with resources, so do they know how to use those? As a student, think – what am I bringing to the table – If I want to collaborate, what can I bring? – because professors are not obligated to collaborate. (Jorge Varela)

  • The first step is contacting the person, so pick up the phone, send an e-mail, or introduce yourself to the person at a conference. Most people are pleased to hear that they may have a potential collaborator. Getting an introduction through your mentor is often helpful, too. (David DeMatteo)

  • Go for it. If your institution raises bureaucratic barriers, then you are in the wrong place. (Michael Perlin)

  • Just ask. Other faculty often are willing to help a student who is enthusiastic about their field of study. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student, a great deal of my experience and knowledge came from collaboration with others outside of my institution. This helped me to network and learn more about the field and possibilities than if I had limited myself to the perspectives of the people that were only at my institution. My mentors encouraged me, as they too were strong believers in collaboration. (Ryann Leonard)

  • In my experience, it hasn't come up unless it's been through collaboration through two faculty members or two advisors, so you have different students under/with the faculty members working on the same projects coming from different institutions. That often works very well because, in our field, we have many people from different institutions who collaborate on the same project(s). Collaboration can facilitate multi-site studies, which are important for the field. So, the normal way it usually happens is by going to your adviser or faculty member and asking them for assistance, at least in my experience. If a student comes to me and I know their adviser/faculty member, it's easier for me to remember them, incorporate them into some issue that might come up that'd I'd like to consult on, and it helps me understand where they're coming from in terms of a research perspective. (Marc Boccaccini)

What is most important to look for in a mentor?
  • Someone who is willing to let you make your mistakes. I remember as a student I got frustrated when they [my mentors] just wouldn't tell me what to do, but I think back on it and I think that I developed a skill that I needed to in that instance even though I didn't want to. For example, if my supervisors wrote my reports for me, then I wouldn't have learned how to write them. Or, if my professors all did my analyses for me, then I wouldn't know my way around looking up resources or being comfortable asking for help. Look for somebody who has time and the resources to provide mentorship. I think it's important for mentors and mentees to have open communication and to have a general shared sense of what you're doing together. If that doesn't work out, or if what the mentee/mentor is looking for cannot be provided, then perhaps it's not going to be a good fit. If they don't “have time” now that doesn't mean they won't have time next semester – go back to ask. I think most people are generally nice and they're not going to make it personal – at least in this program (Sam Houston). Or, maybe they don't have any research going on at the time. I think good mentors should know what limits they have so they don't take on mentees to whom they cannot provide mentorship - it goes both ways. I think it's also important for Early Career Professionals to have their own mentors; I feel lucky that I knew the faculty here before I joined Sam Houston because, just knowing the policies and procedures would have been much harder if I didn't have the faculty there to answer my questions in navigating the academic setting. Any advice for finding one? I know APLS has an ECP committee and I think APA does, too. We're already paying the dues, so we might as well utilize what resources are being provided to us. Also, look into the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology; it's a credentialing program and they offer scholarships to trainees and ECPs. You can bank your credentials with them to make the process of getting licensed easier. They have a Licensure Mobility program too. Many states waive some documentation for Registrants. I'm licensed in VA but I have to get my license in TX, and being a Registrant will expedite the process. We're more mobile as a society so any way you can make the licensure process go faster or help offset the costs of moving or changing licenses (via the scholarships) is a good thing. And, look for opportunities for loan repayment and loan forgiveness – I think many settings we [as psychologists] go into could qualify. Things like loan deferments get cut off as soon as you stop checking the “student” box, and some ECPs may have very high paying jobs, but I would guess that most don't. A lot of benefits we had as students/trainees go away once we become ECPs, but most associations give discounts for ECPs. (Lisa Kan)

  • Are they approaching not only their work but their life in a way you would want to be approaching your life and your work, because in a lot of ways they set the template for how you're going to work in your own career. Are they happy? Are they doing great work? Are they nice? Do they embody the characteristics you want to have? As an ECP, you were recently a mentee, but now a mentor. How is it different? It's a difficult task. Mentoring is a unique skill set and those skills are not easy, nor are you necessarily trained for in graduate school. It's hard to balance getting your career up and going versus being responsible for other people's careers in some ways. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • There needs to be a good fit – professionally and personally – between the mentor and mentee. A good mentor-mentee relationship is built upon shared research interests, the ability to work well together, and similar or complementary interpersonal styles. The mentor should also model the qualities he or she wants to see in his or her students. (David DeMatteo)

  • Somebody whose work interests you, someone you can learn from, someone whose style of working seems commensurate with your own, someone who cares and encourages you. (Saul Kassin)

  • I think someone who genuinely desires to impart knowledge and is someone who respects the mentee's situation and respects and values the mentee's goals of, and for, learning. And, if you respect and value those things, then you'll be willing to make the effort and put in the time required to do that. Also, someone who is knowledgeable about what you, the student, want to learn. Are the personalities compatible? Your mentor don't have to be your thesis/dissertation chair – one of the profs who I consider to have been an important mentor to me was not on my committee for thesis/dissertation, but was my clinical supervisor. They also taught some of my classes and was someone with whom I developed a relationship. I learned a lot from my thesis/dissertation chair, but he kept his distance from his students, whereas the other person I mentioned would invite me and other students to his house and we would learn. It's not easy, being a mentor, and if you genuinely take pride in your student's success and you helped them learn, then that is something you should feel good about. It's not stealing their credit, it's knowing that I helped them do a good job and that is cool. (Jorge Varela)

  • I think it's important to avoid people who might view you as cheap labor. You need to find people who are willing to spend time with you and to teach you, as opposed to just tell you. I can tell you that, when I was applying to grad school, you could tell by the students already in the program more than the mentor if a mentor was bad; if the students looked traumatized, then that was a bad sign. (Lisa Kan)

  • Someone who has a work style that is complementary to yours. The greatest stress for me in graduate school was when I was in a situation where there was not a compatible work style. Sometimes this is unavoidable and so ask upfront what their style is (or as other grad students). Then have an awareness of your own style and realize where frustrations will likely arise and decide to let them go early. Plan ahead for these and your life will be much, much easier. (Ryann Leonard)

Now that you are mentoring students rather than being mentored yourself, what strikes you most from your new perspective? 
  • That I didn't realize the kind of risk my mentors took when they decided to mentor me. It takes a lot of work to be a good mentor and, and I don't think I really understood that. If you're a clinical supervisor, literally your license is on the line; in research, you have a lot of investment in your mentees and you devote your limited resources to helping them become a professional. It's like you want to have a good return on your investment? Yeah, and that is a two-way street because, being a mentor doesn't mean you're going to do things for your mentee, otherwise it wouldn't be a mentorship. When I was a student, I was more focused on the work I had to do versus the work my mentors had to do to get me to the place I am now. And, it's not even that the return investment is like getting publications; rather, is there progress in the students (as some aren't interested in publications) and are the mentees developing the skills they want to develop? (Lisa Kan)

  • Every student requires something different. It's the job of being a good mentor to figure that out early on so that you can help the mentee accomplish what it is they want to accomplish. That, as a mentor it's really about the student as opposed to the mentor –you're trying to help the student get where they want to be, not necessarily get them to where you think they need to go, although, hopefully those two things line up a little bit. (Marcus Boccaccini)

  • I mentor undergraduates in a non-research setting. My most important job is to help them gain an appreciation and excitement for learning. I also need to help them understand what makes someone a good and successful learner so that one day when they come to you they are ready. (Ryann Leonard)

What have you gained from organization memberships such as APA and AP-LS? How have these experiences contributed to your career goals?
  • There are many benefits that come from being part of professional organizations, but the two biggest benefits for me are the ability to develop professional relationships with people who share my research and clinical interests, and keeping up with the most recent research in the field. (David DeMatteo)

  • I'm not a member of APA and I don't feel the cost of APA will benefit me – the cost outweighs the benefit. For AP-LS, the membership helps me because I get Law and Human Behavior, and that's the flagship journal for Forensic Psychology which is nice; cheaper rates at the conference – I could get those things without being a member but it would be more expensive. A little bit later in my career it may help if I get involved in committees of AP-LS or leading AP-LS in some aspect of their mission, but that's a maybe. The networking things don't always come from AP-LS; even though I get the psylaw listerv, I don't need that because I was on it before AP-LS. AP-LS equals monetary benefits for me. (Jorge Varela)

  • You definitely gain a sense of purpose and the larger picture of what we are trying to accomplish within our field. We have a small, close knit group of people who are trying to accomplish changes in one of the most exclusive areas – the legal system. Change is slow but within this organization we can see progress and a constant moving forward. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I'm a member of both APA and AP-LS. Well, from APA, you get access to the top journals in the field of psychology which I think is important. From AP-LS, it's really been more of that opportunity to meet with a group of people who have similar interests; the APA conference is massive and it can be overwhelming to attend the conference, whereas AP-LS is more focused and you know that most of the people there are going to be vaguely familiar with what you're doing and you get better quality interactions between people. I'd rather present at AP-LS because I feel like I'm going to reach the right audience more than if I were to present at APA. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • The opportunity to meet people with similar interests and the networking that can come with such opportunities. (Darryl Johnson)

  • You get to keep up with current events, and get into the network that keeps up with policy decisions. You know, when you're up on things like that, changes don't surprise you anymore and you get a voice in the decision. Psychologists complain often about “not having a voice,” but you have to do something to get involved. You, as a psychologist, can get involved, and there are lots of other ways of doing it – not just being involved in APA/AP-LS. For me, I want to have a voice beyond the walls of academia, and that goes beyond knowing psychologists in professional organizations; I know lawyers, politicians, and those who run TDJC (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) because the work each of us does impacts the other, and we need to spend a lot of time talking to each other. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I know that APA is pretty active in advocating for our profession and I think it's important for policymakers and the general public to know what kinds of services we can offer and how psychological research is very relevant to everyday events. I get very excited when APA submits an amicus brief because I think we can explain things that should be common sense, but aren't, and people have misperceptions of it. And AP-LS offers opportunities for students to get involved in multiple ways – when I was a student I wrote research briefs for the AP-LS newsletter and I think that was really helpful in me becoming a better writer. (Lisa Kan)

Are you on any professional committees (ex., EC of AP-LS)? Why is this work meaningful to you, and how has it helped your career?
  • I've been in a lot of different things (e.g., American Board of Forensic Psychology, Texas Psychological Association – I've been on their boards). The American Board of Professional Psychology's Council of Presidents. COLI (APA's Committee on Legal Issues) has really been major. It's a direct line to the Council of Representatives – 9 people are selected for COLI; there are both PhD and JD's, and we review amicus briefs or policies APA's going to come out with, and we're consulted a lot. For AP-LS, I'm the Chair of the Forensic Specialization Council, and I was on it when we drafted the guidelines for postdocs; those guidelines will be important to Forensic Psychologists in the future. When it comes to drafting guidelines for graduate programs with an emphasis or track in forensic psychology, I wouldn't want someone doing that without my input because of my position here at Sam Houston. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • For me, serving on committees is not a way to advance my career, but a way to give back to the organization. It is a service. I think it benefits me personally because I have the opportunity to understand the organization better and, most importantly, I've had the opportunity to interact with amazing people in the profession. (Eve Brank)

  • Being on professional committees allows me to be integrally involved in the organization, influence the direction of the organization, and give something back to the field. (David DeMatteo)

  • Not at present, but in the past. I don't know whether its helped my career but its opened the door to some social networking opportunities. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • I am interested in committees for early career psychologists because I think it's a good resource to have. I think it's also important to get involved in public policy committees because, if we don't, then legislature tends to pass laws that affect our practice. It's usually harder to reverse something than to stop something from happening. (Lisa Kan).

What are your reasons for serving as an editor for a peer-reviewed journal?
  • Three reasons: Service to the profession (its my professional responsibility), the desire to enhance the publication process (i.e., point out crucial flaws in research or highlight alternative interpretations in the data), and to learn from the articles I read. (Barry Rosenfield)

Would you recommend students to be involved with another division as well?
  • I do. For years, I had an identity crisis as I straddled the line between being social psychology and psychology-and-law. I like to think that we are psychologists first and forensic second. This enables us to bring one-hundred plus years of basic psychology to bear on law and legal decision-making rather than reinvent the wheel. As far as keeping a foot in another division—very good idea. Whether neuro, social, cognitive, developmental, or clinical, I think students should join another division and publish in non-forensic journals. It makes the field as a whole stronger. (Saul Kassin)

What do you think are the most important research areas in the next 10 years?*
  • The UN's recent ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the most important and unknown development in this area in the last decade. Everywhere but in the US, law students and psychology students know about this and understand why it is critical that all in this field begin to “get” the significance of international human rights. (Michael Perlin)

  • Speaking from the experimental side, I think there are common signals emerging across areas; it seems to me that certain core themes are hard to escape. One that I am particularly interested in is confirmation bias. Once a confession is taken, it unleashes a chain of confirmation biases that creates false support for the confession. I'm guessing that you would see the same phenomenon in other areas of evidence, like eyewitness testimony and the forensic sciences. We tend to segregate the areas of research that we study according to topic, but there are themes that bring us back to basic psychology. I think the confirmation bias is a good example that has far reaching implications for criminal justice, law, policy, and practice. I also think we see a general agreement across areas for the proposition that judges, juries, and other fact finders are better off with more information than with less—which should imply a lot about how evidence is preserved regardless of whether it's an eyewitness making an identification; an interrogation resulting in a confession; or an interview with a snitch, alibi, or child abuse victim that leads police to a judgment that someone is lying or telling the truth. Too many evidence-gathering opportunities are not taped, leaving judges and juries to rely on potentially inaccurate and biased accounts of what happened. Across areas now, everyone is coming to the same realization that these moments of evidence gathering should be recorded. The reasons take us back to basic psychology. (Saul Kassin)

  • Well, a couple are really going to come up. The mental retardation issue is more of an issue now, given it impacts the death penalty and there is much controversy regarding instruments, and some of the other measures we're using (e.g., violence risk assessment) are going to be important. Also, there is the continuation of specialization in our field. Next, sex offender commitment; there is a lot of research, but there is an issue about how to study what most psychologists say is a very heterogeneous population. Should we divide them into two categories (child molesters versus rapists), as if those are the only two categories? A final issue is that there needs to be more research in consultation to the courts and jurors involved – 99% of jury research is on mock jurors and that's not at all realistic. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I think an area we are missing is corrections – the administration, the guards, the inmate programs and overall effectiveness of the correctional systems both institutional and community based. I also think we are going to see more research on sex offender treatment and terrorism. I think our understanding of these two areas is changing across the world. I also think we need to see more research on law enforcement practices and duties. I think as the laws change and the world gets more dangerous that we need to help law enforcement evaluate their training and the daily execution of their duties. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I'm only really capable of answering this question as it pertains to clinical forensic topics, since I'm not as attentive to the trends in more “experimental” psych/law topics. Within clinical, I think cross-cultural issues represents a huge gap in our knowledge base and is an area poised to become a critical topic for the next generation of researchers. Of course this topic cuts across a wide range of specific topics, but aside from some cross-cultural research on psychopathy, virtually nothing exists. I also think we have spent a lot of time focusing on risk assessment but very little on risk management, or more importantly, risk reduction. The “treatment” side of this problem has often been relegated to non-forensic practitioners but the idea that forensic psychologists would delve into – and even integrate both domains (assessment and treatment) is an important, and often overlooked opportunity.(Barry rosenfield)

  • Field reliability of risk assessment instruments would be one area. I think we will be increasingly called to task on how we are using these instruments to make important decisions. I also think if the decriminalization of substance use continues to pick up steam, mental health professionals are going to have to treat these individuals from a different perspective then what we are accustom too which could be an interesting treatment related area of research. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Well I think Kirk Heilbrun and one his colleagues published an article that's relevant to this question; it's “Forensic Psychology and Forensic Science: A Proposed Agenda for the Next Decade,” in Psychology, Public Policy and the Law. You know, for students, it'd be a good thing for them to read that. One of the issues they talk about in that article is the need for research examining diversity issues in Forensic Psychology. I think that this is an issue for the field of psychology in general, but it seems to be more neglected in psychology and the law, especially in some of the clinical aspects like, assessments with clients of diverse backgrounds, especially those who are non-native English speakings. I guess the other one I'd point to is field research in clinical Forensic Psychology. We, as psychologists, know a lot about how assessment measures work in controlled studies with a lot of researcher oversight, but we know less about how our measures work in field settings. It's time for us to work more in that area, kind of like how treatment research has moved from efficacy to effectiveness. Both types of research are important, but we have to do more effectiveness research in forensic psych. I guess that'd be true for non-clinical areas in psychology and the law as well, such eyewitness lineups. I know that eye-witness lineup researchers have started doing more field research, and I think that is great. I'm sure there are other non-clinical areas in which field research is needed as well. (Marcus Boccaccini).

  • I think that a big deal is addressing diversity – how is forensic psychology going to account for the changing demographics of the US? I would say the diversity issue is global across all of psychology but especially Forensic Psychology; one specific place we need to do better in this area is in risk assessment. This happens to be my research area and that's why I do it. I think that the whole idea of evaluating risk assessment is important – with the proliferation of the sexually violent predator laws, psychologists are called increasingly to assess risk of recidivism among sexually violent predators and to do that accurately, fairly and in a way that's consistent with our justice system is important. (Jorge Varela)

*answers to questions were gathered in 2011

If you could improve one thing about the field of psychology what would it be and why?
  • I would help academics get out of the labs and into the real world. We are very good at being theoretical and some of us work outside of our labs but many do not. I think our field could help even more if we tried a bit harder to understand the daily realities of the groups or people we study (law enforcement, courts, mentally ill) by really spending time in their world. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I think we need to do a better job of informing people interested in going into graduate studies about what the field is like – I don't think it's good for our field or to the individuals who go to grad school thinking they're able to do certain things and they won't or they don't understand what is involved. As someone who just went through the internship process not too long ago, the statistics there are very disturbing and scary. I don't know if we do a good enough job of informing potential applicants what the process is really like so they can make an informed decision and if they decide they want to [go to grad school], they know the risks involved; it's not unlike what we do with our clients. When I talked with a psychiatry fellow [recently], she didn't understand how we couldn't graduate if we don't have an internship when an internship isn't guaranteed. (Lisa Kan)

  • To go over a tired old theme – the integration of information across the subdisciplines of psychology is an area that needs to be improved. Greater communication of research across the country would also be helpful, so that other professions can know what is happening in other areas of the country/world. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Improve the opportunities for people with a BA in psychology. There are too many students going right into MA or PhD programs right out of college simply because they don't see any viable job opportunities for their BA/BS. A couple years of meaningful work experience would do wonders to help applicants develop a deeper understanding of the field that they want to spend the rest of their careers in. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • I think psychologists in general do a commendable job of communicating their research to each other. I think we in AP-LS do a better job than most at also communicating to outsiders. I am not one who thinks we should be publishing our best research in law journals. What distinguishes us from lawyers, journalists, and other nonscientists, is that we publish in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. We can certainly write in other highly visible places--in newspapers, magazines, law reviews, and online. But I think our original work should appear first in peer-reviewed journals. (Saul Kassin)

  • Wow, it's hard to pick one thing. 1) Greater commitment to scientific rigor in practice. 2) To make practice decisions based on science rather than on traditions and ease; there is no reconciling that against clinical judgment and if you think clinical judgment is the way you should do things, then clearly you have not read the literature on the problems, limitations and error associated with clinical judgment. I think that “washing out the human element because of science” is a fallacious statement – professional psychological services are always delivered by humans. For example, if you interview a patient to gather some variables for actuarial assessment, then that interview is still conducted by a human being, so this idea that science will take out the human element is ridiculous. Science will provide guidance to the human interaction. Another example is, there's been a move toward empirically supported treatments and those empirically supported treatments are still implemented by human beings. Even the most detailed treatment manual doesn't provide minute by minute direction/guidance on how to spend the hour with the patient, so there's still plenty of opportunity for human interaction.(Jorge Varela)

  • It would be pulling back together what I consider to be clinical and scientific psychology; there is a huge split. Unfortunately, the “scientist-practitioner model” almost doesn't exist any more; now, it's more about research in doctoral programs. Those who are the role models in academic programs often are not clinicians who actually practice, and I think research would be more relevant if we knew what questions people out there (e.g., in the “real world) had that need to be answered. You know, practitioners get frustrated with academics because of this, turn off to the research, and then are not up to date, which is not good. I think that the big professional programs that academics often criticize developed because universities now look down on clinical practice; for example, if you want tenure, then you have to publish and the tenure chase often leaves little time for clinical work. So, surprise surprise, those who want to practice and want a doctoral degree will go someplace else, and that someplace else is a professional program. Do you think it will be possible to reconcile the PhD/PsyD split? I think it's not realistic to reconcile the split. Here, at Sam Houston, we try to be scientist practitioners and have people practicing who are doing the clinical/supervision work. We have 20% of our graduates in academic careers, 80% in primarily practice careers, and that's fine with me. Also, I think the universities can, and should, network with the practitioners in the field; our programs can do tremendous services for them, and we [Sam Houston] try to do that in a small way with our community supervisors. The community practitioners can give a lot to the university and students. Getting involved at a community level is important for the students as well as the professors. (Mary Alice Conroy)

When did you know that psychology was the right field for you?
  • When I began working in a psych hospital, during my senior year of college. I just love mental illness. (Barry Rosenfield)

  • I think I declared my major in psychology during my junior year in undergrad so, it was relatively late. I was drawn to the science part of it, the fact that there were lots of things to study and lots of questions to ask and attempt to answer. When I was an undergrad, say my senior year, I worked with a developmental psychologist whose husband was a lawyer, and they team-taught a psych and law class that I really enjoyed. And, I did some work for the lawyer doing trial transcript reviews (he was an appellate attorney) and I found the intersection of psychology and law to be particularly fascinating – that is, not boring). What maintains your motivation to develop forensic psychology? There are lots of things that we don't know; there's no shortage of potential research studies. Every researcher I know has list of things they'd like to do but haven't yet – there is no shortage of questions needing to be answered. (Marcus Boccaccini)

  • Probably when I was an undergraduate. I was working for a group of psychologists at the time, and I really enjoyed the interactions I had with the clients. I remember seeing the dramatic improvements in this particular client over time. It was amazing to think that, as psychologists, we can help somebody in that way. (Lisa Kan)

  • Probably halfway through my doctoral program. I went into my doctoral program with the understanding that, “This is an idea I have and, if I don't like it, then I'll leave,” and I had no qualms about doing that. While I was there, I had key mentors because, I saw what they were doing and it excited me. Psychology, as a field, has a lot of variety and, I learned that if I didn't want to do private work, then I could teach, write books, consult or be an expert witness – all sorts of things. This is true of forensic psychology, in particular, and that keeps the field exciting.(Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I knew in high school after my first psychology class. I wanted to be a lawyer since I was seven and then hit junior year psychology class and the lawyer idea went out the window. Then when I was an undergraduate I was doing a research project for statistics and found a study by Beth Loftus and one of her students that combined psych and law. I was intrigued. When I presented that research at a small local conference and Dr. Loftus was in the audience and she gave me positive feedback on my ideas, I was hooked on psych and law. Networking and making connections is so very important. (Ryann Leonard)

  • In my 1 st year at Florida International University; I'd been to junior college and did psychology classes there, but I was a bio major. Then, I went to FIU, and my friend encouraged me to take psychology classes with them because they were a psych major and I did really well. I said, “I can do this. This is very interesting and, now I'm getting good grades and I can't slack off because I know I can get good grades.” (Jorge Varela)

  • When I was sitting in my Abnormal Psychology class in undergraduate and I was fascinated by the topic. The class was at 7:30 a.m., and I am not a morning person, but I attended every single class and loved it. That's when I knew that I was interested in this field. Then I got involved in research and loved the scientific process, and it just went from there. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • I knew in the summer of 1992 that this was the right field for me. I was taking a social psychology course in graduate school. After sitting out of school for 5 years, I found this class to be very intriguing…I guess you could say Dr. Rody Miller (a professors at SHSU) is the reason why I am where I am today. (Darryl Johnson)

What recommendations do you have for students seeking to enter the field or seeking to enter your specialty?
  • Create a timeline going in for what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve each of your goals. Be realistic about your expectations as far as what you want to do with your degree and what the availability of those options is. For example, know that academic jobs are competitive and similarly not everyone can be a forensic evaluator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and a private practice takes time to develop. (Darryl Johnson)

  • Ignore the advice of those who tell you you can't make a living. You can. Volunteer, take lots of courses, start writing, get to know people. Ignore advice. (Michael Perlin)

  • Take your studies seriously and develop a love for learning. Realize that this field has a lot of road blocks and that progress is slow. Take time to talk with people who work not only in the field of psych and law but also those in the legal system. Their perspective often differs greatly from that of your professors for how to fix what is broken. (Ryann Leonard)

  • I think they ought to try it out, for one, because it sometimes surprises students – they think they'll loveit /hate it and then it turns out it's the opposite. So, try to get some experience at the undergrad level in corrections, doing research with someone, or at a psychiatric hospital and that will tell you a lot about whether or not you'll like it. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I think it'd be different depending on students thinking about graduate school – I think it's absolutely crucial they go to a program that fits well with what they need, or what they're interested in. For those in the field – it's a really a hard question to answer because, when I think about my grad students, so many of them have different career goals. It's hard to think of any one piece of advice I could give all of them. What advice do you have for students who are wanting to consider a career in research? Mostly to not be scared by it. Some people seem intimidated by the idea of publishing and doing research, and it's not as hard as many students think. At least, in a clinical program, the default thing is to go into clinical work, and I think many students see research beyond thesis and dissertation as something extra. I don't think students come in that way, but I think it's something they come to perceive while in gradauate school. I think some students are intimidated by statistics, and that's something that can be a huge barrier to feeling capable of pursuing a career in research. When they start using statistics to answer their own research questions, then it becomes much less abstract. (Marc Boccaccini)

  • I would say that to be an effective Forensic Psychologist, first you have to be a good psychologist – so be a good clinical psychologist. Students sometimes want to skip this idea of being a good psychologist or clinician. Well, you have to become a global clinician before you can specialize – understanding psychopathology doesn't mean you automatically psychopathology among offenders – it just means you understand psychopathology, period. Clinical psychology is the foundation upon which the forensic competencies are built. Like, you have to know how the MMPI works with regular people before you use it on offenders. You have to know Schizophrenia in people before you see it in offenders. Students get so into specializations that they don't believe you can become a good clinician before becoming a specialist. I think I'll reiterate: learn to find knowledge and learn to access the body of knowledge of psychology. Know how to search for articles and books and understanding how to read them and that's when you blend knowing research methods and stats methods and understandings. (Jorge Varela).

  • Have a general sense of why you want to go into it [the field]. I enjoyed my training but it was hard in many ways and it takes a lot of [personal] resources. And, I think at those times when I wanted to be like, “Maybe I should just drop out…I don't want to do this anymore,” I remember why I chose to do this in the first place. Also, be informed about the process - like you get the degree, then you get licensed, and you have to be licensed in every state in which you want to practice. When I started I didn't know all the details and, in some ways I'm glad, because I might have been scared off. At the very least, have a general idea that you can't go running off to see patients the moment you get your degree – there's a process involved here! (Lisa Kan)

What drew you towards your specific specialty?
  • Right now my specialty is neighborhoods. Data collection for my dissertation took place in neighborhoods and that's where I became fascinated with how neighborhoods can promote and create racial disparities in violence. (Preeti Chauhan)

  • Probably accidents. I had degrees in alternate areas and, initially, I wanted to be psychotherapist to desperate housewives. But, then, I got thrown into a lot of experiences in the forensic/correctional areas when I was at the University of Houston, and those made a difference for me. (Mary Alice Conroy)

  • I guess I'm more of an analytical person and, so, having to analyze a case from both a psychological/psychiatric and legal standpoint and figuring out how to integrate the two and explain it in a coherent manner is, I think, fun. It's challenging, but fun. I also think that demonstrates how relevant our work is as psychologists. (Lisa Kan)

  • It's just the one area of psychology I thought I could do for the rest of my life. I thought being a garden variety clinician would be boring. If I did therapy for the rest of my life, then I would leave the field. What maintains your motivation to develop forensic psychology? I think one of them is personal pride – I don't want to be perceived as uninformed, and I don't want to be uninformed about matters that interest me. Also, I'm Latino. And, I know that there are not many Latino psychologists in academia or wherever, so I know the work I do represents me, my group, and things that are important to me, so I want to do well. (Jorge Varela)

  • My love of both psychology and the legal system. I have always seen them as complementary fields and was ecstatic to discovered other people felt the same way. (Ryann Leonard)

  • A convergence of early work experiences (as a CO on death row for one) and growing up in a “prison town [Huntsville, TX],” that coupled with an interest in psychology made this field a natural fit for me. (Daryl Johnson)

What do you think have been the most significant developments in the field since you entered it?
  • Believe it or not, I think the most profound development comes from outside the field—it comes from the science of DNA. I remember when the promise of using new DNA technologies to identify criminals and exclude innocent suspects first started to become a reality. Everyone assumed it would render psychology useless. In fact, by shining a spotlight on eyewitness mistakes, false confessions, informants, and other human “errors,” DNA has had the exact opposite effect. Another significant development has to do with the impact our work has had in the legal system. When I first entered the field, the courts were not much citing the work published in psychology journals. The news media were not all that engaged either. In this CSI generation, all that has changed. I think the credit for this development can be shared across the areas of the field as a whole. We now know that when we publish in our journals, there is a wider audience out there. Law and Human Behavior has become successful in terms of all standard metrics of readership, impact, and market value. It is now a valuable asset for the organization as a whole. We should not take that for granted—it is not happening in most other divisions of APA. It's one way that our division has moved forward significantly over the last 30 years. (Saul Kassin)

Date created: 2013