Without a doubt, a top-tier education instills in students a strong foundation in theory as well as relevant, practical experience that can help them grow their careers. Dr. Samantha Broitman embodies that principle, ensuring that her courses are up to date with modern best practices from the professional world. Learn more about how Dr. Broitman’s years of experience in Applied Psychology inspires her students and helps them succeed.
Broitman and Industrial-Organizational Psychology: A Perfect Fit
Dr. Broitman began her career after graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1991. After entering the workforce for a few years, she returned to school, this time to pursue her degree in Clinical Psychology. She attended Pepperdine University for her master’s degree and then attended Alliant University – Los Angeles to study Organizational Psychology, where she earned her Ph.D.
During these years, Dr. Broitman’s passions for workplace psychology, specifically leadership development and organizational change management, started to form. Her master’s thesis was on the characteristics of an effective executive coach, and her doctoral dissertation focused on virtual mentoring and how companies and individuals can develop global mentoring strategies through technology, which would play key roles in her later career.
Broitman was ahead of her time, conducting this research during the late 1990s – well before the internet became the invaluable tool it is today. Her research from that time helped build the framework for digital networking and consulting that thousands of people still use to this day.
“When I discovered I/O Psychology, I realized it was the perfect fit for me – the application of psychology in a work setting,” she said.
The steps she took to further her education, pursuing her master’s and doctoral degrees paved the way for a successful career in helping individuals in organizations thrive.
The Kickoff to a Successful Psychology Career
Following her graduation, Dr. Broitman started her career as a professional consultant and industrial-organizational psychologist, working with several companies, both guiding the implementation of organizational change, and supporting individual learning and growth through strategic psychological initiatives.
Some highlights of Dr. Broitman’s professional background include her time with PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, where she led change management, training and communications teams on several IT system implementation projects. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she was responsible for improving HR talent management strategy for a 1,300-employee business unit, as well as developing and implementing their succession management practices. Dr. Broitman also spent several years at Warner Bros. where she enjoyed her work in change management and organization development.
Dr. Broitman brings an objective point of view to each company she works for. As a consultant, she can see the company from the outside and recommend changes as needed. As an employee, Broitman brings the experience of knowing what has worked for other companies in the past — and what could work for her current employer.
“My clients have always been special to me, and I enjoyed being able to help improve the success of many change projects I’ve worked on, as well as the individual growth and development I’ve supported in all my coaching and team development work,” she said.
Dr. Broitman also believes that working at USC in the MS in Applied Psychology program gives her the opportunity to mentor and coach students early in their careers who will go on to impact many employees in many companies, making organizations a better place to work!
Exploring the Practitioner-Professor Relationship
Unlike some in academia, Dr. Broitman has honed her expertise through nearly two decades of experience in the professional world, rather than through research. This means that her students can learn from dozens of case studies, client stories and lessons.
“Given that MAPP is an applied program, my practical experience is what is valued in the classroom and in my advisement of students for their research and careers,” she said. “But I still ensure that students are provided a strong foundation in theory and research, and I ensure that they take this knowledge and consider how to apply it in real life organizational situations.”
With the proper balance between research and application, USC students are prepared to retain what they learn and apply it to their future professional careers.
Preparing Students for Their Organizational Psychology Careers
Whether graduates go on to help organizations improve their talent acquisition and retention, lead HR teams or focus on market research, Dr. Broitman and the rest of the USC faculty can help students grow their careers. And, the Applied Psychology field provides unique opportunities for those who want to work in the professional world.
“Psychology is such a fascinating science, and it is such a popular major for undergraduates,” she said. “However, not everyone wants to do research in academia or be a clinician… therefore the Applied Psychology field is a great career choice and is very valuable to employers.”
Dr. Broitman has said repeatedly that organizational psychology touches on all aspects of an organization, from top-level executives who want to introduce new initiatives or company plans to entry-level employees who need mentorship and hope to get ahead. Those who have an active grasp on psychology will be better prepared to face the hurdles ahead of them in their future careers.
When asked about the future of the organizational psychology field, Dr. Broitman lists several trends that could have significant impacts on employees and organizations, ranging from globalization to the increased exploration of AI and robotics.
The Integration of an Interactive Learning Experience
When Dr. Broitman first started teaching at USC, she knew that she wanted to develop a course that would really benefit students for years after they left the university. As she develops her course materials, she constantly asks peers to review her teaching plans and syllabus to make sure it was up-to-date with modern best practices.
Her peers do more than just check her lesson plans; they also actively participate in them. Dr. Broitman invites multiple guest speakers each semester to talk to her students on campus and share their stories and expertise. These professionals bring their own perspectives about psychology’s role in business and can answer questions about certain subjects that Broitman might not be an expert in. This creates an extra resource for students to enhance their knowledge of the field.
Additionally, Dr. Broitman continues to learn. She still consults with companies across the nation and constantly has new experiences to share with the students in her class. This gives her fresh information and a steady stream of examples she can apply to the theories of organizational psychology discussed in the course.
Moving Organizational Psychology to the Online Classroom
Although Dr. Broitman also teaches students on campus, she tends to find that students are more vocal and engaging in online course discussions. During in-person lessons, there are typically a handful of students who feel comfortable asking questions or contributing to discussions. However, in an online setting, students can think about what they want to say and contribute unique ideas that they otherwise might have kept to themselves. The format of the class ensures that every student participates their perspective in every discussion.
Online courses also create opportunities to engage with a more diverse group of students, both in terms of geography and experience levels. This means different perspectives, different ideas, and a well-rounded discussion for everyone involved. This diversity also prepares students for the workforce, where they are likely to work with different groups of people who approach problems in unique ways.
Through strategic lesson plans and engaging discussions, Dr. Broitman is able to bring the online classroom to life and create a comparable experience to the in-person classroom model.
Students who are considering entering the field of psychology, as well as those who are are pursuing a non-psychological field, should consider enrolling in Dr. Broitman’s courses. She can open their eyes to new concepts for leading companies and changing how people work for organizations. A Master’s in Applied Psychology online could lead to a rewarding career focused on applying psychology to the modern business world. Visit the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California to learn more.