Gain International Experience with USC’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology

View all blog posts under Videos

Presented by the University of Southern California’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology Online program.

USC’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology Online program gives students the opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Current student, Jennifer Reed (MAP Fall 17), will share her experience during her internship in Dublin and how it helped her professional development.


Gina Chang: Hi everyone, thank you for attending. We’ll be getting started shortly in just a moment, thank you. Thank you very much for attending our webinar today. Our topic, we’ll be discussing Gain International Experience with USC’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology Degree. Just to let you know that this event will be recorded. No dial-in needed, the webinar will begin shortly. What to expect, please refresh your browsers and turn up the volume on your device to here the audio. Use the media player to control the volume or pause the presentation if viewing on-demand. For technical difficulties or to ask questions please use the Q&A box. Thank you very much.

Today’s agenda. Facilitators, myself, Gina Chang, as admissions advisor, and Serena Diep, program advisor. Moderator today would be Dr Leggett, Dr Ellen Leggett and student spotlight, Jennifer Reed.

Serena Diep: Hi everyone, this is Serena Diep. I am the student program advisor slash program specialist for the applied psychology masters program. Very excited to be joining everyone here today. On the agenda for today’s webinar, we will be going over the program overview, the practicum requirement for the program, the international experience with Dublin internship, our alumna experience with Jennifer Reed, the supports and outcomes of the program, and next steps regarding admissions and enrollment in the program.

I want to next introduce Dr Ellen Leggett, who is our program director of the program. Dr Leggett, do you have a couple words you want to share with our participants?
Ellen Leggett: Hi everyone. I’m so glad that you’ve joined us today. I am really excited to be the director of this program. I’ve been here for five years, and the program has really grown during this time. We really feel that we’re doing something unique here and it’s why I left my consulting world, in order to return to academia, a place that I have always loved. The program has grown largely due to our launching this program as an online platform three years ago.

I want to first point out that our curriculum is a contemporary and innovative program that is combining both organizational and consumer psychology in a way that is not usually combined. We believe that the tools and language of psychology are similar whether you are speaking to external audiences, such as consumers, or the internal people at a company, the employees who make the organization work.

The faculty has been specifically chosen because they are folks who have not only their doctorate in psychology but also have a record of working in industry in some area, so that the lessons that they are teaching in class are essentially the same things that they are doing in their day to day job. These are not faculty who have been in the ivory tower their entire life.

The program online can be accomplished in 16 months by taking two courses at a time. The key elements that we think are important to remember about our program is that there are some requirements detailed here over on the right hand side that guarantee that you will have professional development while you’re enrolled in this program. We have a required internship or professional activity for one semester. During that time you also take a course with a UCS faculty maybe, no matter where’ you’re located in the country. We also have all students do a capstone treatise, which is a focused research project, often a consulting project for a company that is focused on either an organizational or consumer problem.

At this time I’d like to introduce our guest today who is Jennifer Reed. She is a student in the program, a student who is finishing her program as we speak. She has joined us in order to talk about not only the program but a very exciting internship opportunity she had last summer in Dublin. Jennifer, do you want to give us a little bit more background about yourself?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you Dr Leggett. I am really happy to be here and getting to talk to you all about this. As Dr Leggett said, I’m Jennifer Reed. Actually I’m in the middle of my final semester of the MAPP program at USC. I’ll quickly share a few things about myself.

I graduated with a bachelor’s in administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma. I graduated in 2013. After graduating I started working at a physical rehabilitation hospital called TIRR Memorial Hermann. It’s located in Houston. I was working there as the coordinator for the psychology and neuropsychology department. I had a wide range of response in that position. It ultimately inspired my enrollment in the MAPP program and aided in my internship placement in human resources at Bon Secours Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.

Couple other things, I am maybe of SIOP and HAIOP, so Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, HAIOP is the Houston version of that.

Ellen Leggett: Jennifer, you are located right now in Texas, is that right?

Jennifer Reed: Yes, I am in Houston, Texas.

Ellen Leggett: So you’re back from Dublin and you’ve been taking the program from your home in Texas. We’re glad you’re on the line today. I wanted to ask you, when you were looking for a graduate school, could you give us a little bit of background about how you chose the MAPP program here at USC, and what also factored into your decision to chose an online graduate program?

Jennifer Reed: Sure. I was inspired to study organizational psychology from my work at TIRR in Houston, but I wasn’t totally ready to commit to a PhD program because that’s a lot of time. So I was broadly searching to see if there were any masters opportunity in that areas and I came across the MAPP. I was really impressed by the MAPP program of its dual focus in consumer psychology and organizational psychology, because businesses exist because of consumers so I thought it was really smart to blend the two disciplines into one program.

I’ll skip down to why I chose USC for a second. To speak plainly, USC has clout and countless accolades. I knew that by choosing USC I would receive an exceptional education and would be armed with the support and the knowledge and skill that I could take with me into my career and everyday life. I also chose USC because not only is the MAPP program offered online, but it’s also offered on campus as well. It was important that this program has been tested in an on-campus environment.

I think ultimately I decided to study online because at the time of my enrollment I was still working at TIRR in Houston and had already setup a great support system and had a network of people. My whole family is here, so I decided that I wasn’t totally ready to leave that job yet, but I was really excited to get started and to continue my learning. So I decided that the online program would give me that flexibility that I needed to keep up with my life here.

Ellen Leggett: A very busy life indeed. We have the next slide [inaudible 00:09:17] you have tempted us by talking, mentioning that you spent a summer in Dublin, so let’s talk about Dublin a little bit. We’ve got a great picture here of Dublin. What is this that we’re looking at?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. This photo is actually, you’ll see some people there kayaking down the Liffey, which is a body of water that it divides the city of Dublin into the north side and the south side. That bridge, I’ve walked across it many times. I actually would be probably that exact image as I was going to and from work, because I would catch the bus at the Liffey, so I’m feeling very nostalgic when looking at this photo. But this is something that you would [crosstalk 00:10:16] Yeah.

Ellen Leggett: Go ahead.

Jennifer Reed: It’s something that you would very typically see if you were walking around in Dublin.

Ellen Leggett: This is you with your internship supervisor. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you were doing?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. As I said my internship was in Dublin and it was at Bon Secours Hospital. Bon Secours is the largest private healthcare provider in Ireland. They have several different locations but I was located in Dublin. This photo is of me and my supervisor, Dearbhail McKee. I learned so much from my time there, in my time working with Dearbhail in human resources. I fell like I was really given access to so much during my short time there. They really welcomed me and treated me like I was really a part of the team.

Even still now, because my time there actually inspired my treatise because they’re going through some big organizational changes right now, so I’m actually studying their communication strategy and the employee perception of how effective that communication has been. Dearbhail, she’s acting as my professional reader for my treatise, so we’ve been keeping in touch and still able to collaborate even though we’re thousands of miles apart.

Ellen Leggett: It speaks to how valuable your assistance was to her while you were there, that she has wanted to keep you involved. That’s great. Okay, I’m sure people would love to know more about what was involved in getting yourself to Dublin for a summer internship. Can you hit some of the high points of the program?
Jennifer Reed: Yeah. This was actually, I love talking about this experience because, just a little background about me. I hadn’t been out of the country since I was 10 years old. This was my first international experience. Anytime that you’re doing something like that for the first time there’s going to be a little bit of uncertainty and a little anxiety, but I feel like it was made so easy for me and the rest of those of my cohort that went along too.

The program is just eight weeks. I’m sure that there are people online that are thinking eight weeks might be forever but it goes by so extremely fast, it’s unbelievable. Anybody who applies for this internship place in Dublin, then you’re given so many tools to succeed. They go through various professional development sessions with you. They’ll go through StrengthFinder and they’ll talk about your particular strengths that you should highlight in your resume and your cover letter before sending that information out to businesses there.

Lodging and everything was already setup for us, which I was so grateful for. We stayed at University College Dublin. The accommodations were so nice. We were able to maintain some privacy, I know in undergraduate when you’re staying in dorms and you have to share everything with somebody else, you can feel like you’re a little bit on top of each other. But we had our own space, and I actually was able to share the hallway that I was on at UCD, we had all of the students on USC were on the same hallway. That was really nice. We really created our own little family in there.

We had a kitchen and a living space that we all shared, and a study room. We definitely made use of those spaces and had late nights together. We had, on campus there’s 24/7 on-site staff. So if you forget your key or if you lose it or something, you can’t get into your room, then you can give them a call and they’ll be there in like five to 10 minutes. I’ve definitely done that.

Before you even go, there are a ton of questions that people have before doing something like this, a pre-departure webinar is hosted so you can ask any last minute questions. There’s a welcome orientation when you get there and social and cultural professional events, which really give you the opportunity to get to know the rest of the people that are there with you and form and foster new relationships.

Ellen Leggett: You mentioned that you were there with some other students from MAPP. I think I recognize some of them in these photos. Can you tell us who else was there and how you all got along?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. Actually Dr Leggett you were there. You were there for this.

Ellen Leggett: I was. I think [crosstalk 00:15:50] picture.

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. This group, not everybody is from the same cohort. Actually there’s a student in here who is on campus. But we all became quite close as we were living and working together in Dublin. We all had different internships in Dublin but we spent a significant amount of time together outside of work, living together and going out and exploring the city and surrounding cities as well.

Ellen Leggett: It was a fun group. You were all from different parts of the country too. As I’m looking at the group I see, I know one was from Florida, you’re from Texas, a couple were from LA. You mentioned you weren’t at the same point in the program, were you talking about classes and getting input from people who’d already taken classes, about what ones you might want?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah, definitely. We were all, there were a few of us that are in the same cohort, so that was really nice because we had some of the same classes together while we were there, because we were still taking class while we were in Dublin. That made it a little easier for group projects. We could just sit down together and collaborate, where we actually wouldn’t have been able to normally because we live in different states.

That was really fun, to actually be able to sit down with the person and be like, “Hey, I know you. We’ve had many classes together but now I get to really sit down with you and get to know you a little bit better. There is somebody here who had already graduated. He was a great resource to the rest of us how hadn’t graduated yet, because we got to pick his brain a little bit about treatise and about some of our upcoming courses and what to expect. That was really great. And then we had someone there who was in the middle of treatise at that time. She was also a really good resource to the rest of us.

Having everybody there, who was at a different point in the program and in a different stage of life in general, was really valuable to be able to collaborate together and support each other.

Ellen Leggett: Great. I know when I visited you we had fun going out to dinner together too. You mentioned where you lived and this next slide has some familiar sights I think for you. But the residence hall you lived in was upper in the left side there. Do you want to tell us any more what we’re looking at here?

Jennifer Reed: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. That picture at the top to the left, that is, was my residence at UCD. It was very, very nice. Below that you would see, this is a very typical scene in Dublin, with all the beautiful greenery and the architecture, and even with the photo that you see to the right at the bottom, walking around Dublin you’ll see shops and pubs and restaurants and all these cool little places scattered around the city in this beautiful architecture.

And then in the middle, those photos you would see, like that top one is of the cliffs. They’re gorgeous. We actually took a trip to the cliffs of Moher, that was kind of setup for us as part of the program going to Dublin. We had such an amazing day there. We were super lucky to have awesome weather when we went. This is all very, very typical of what you would see in Dublin and around Dublin. It’s a very social and active city. Everybody’s super nice and really inviting.

Ellen Leggett: There’s lots of green when you leave Dublin, right?

Jennifer Reed: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, it’s gorgeous. I came back to Houston and Houston’s kind of flat and brown. I was like, “I can’t believe that I decided to leave all of that beautiful greenery and all of the flowers and everything that they had there.” It was gorgeous.

Ellen Leggett: People there were really genuine too. You are back home, you did leave Dublin, you came back home, you rejoined the program in order to do your treatise and wrap up the program. I wonder if we might prevail upon to reflect on your program overall. Could you comment on what your experience has been like with the faculty?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. I actually see a couple, well Dr Leggett you’re right there in the middle, and then to the right there’s Dr Broitman. She taught my organizational psychology class. As you mentioned earlier, it’s not, all of the faculty members have real life, real work experience in what they’re teaching. That was something that was incredibly important to me when I was entering the program, and something that has proven to be really, really valuable as I’ve been going through the program.

Because it’s one thing to study something, and it’s a totally different thing to do it and to test yourself and see what you’re made of. Actually in one of my courses, the other day we were giving presentations and at the end of the presentation we were asked questions. The professor, she said, she’s like, “You know, those are actually all questions that I’ve actually gotten from clients.” So it’s really good practice to even remember that something that you’re communicating to someone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re tracking with you and that they’re on the same page.

The faculty expertise has been invaluable. I can’t believe how accessible they are too, because a lot of the faculty, if not all of them, are still doing some consulting work here and there. I don’t know, I think, “I’m so busy,” and then I remember how busy they are. It is astounding to me, how well they’re able to communicate with their students. It is a testament to how committed they are to their students and their success. They really do care about what they’re teaching and they care about this area of study. They want their students to do well.

Ellen Leggett: I’m so glad to hear that that’s been your experience. Let’s move ahead, I wonder if you could tell us about how you have experienced your classmates?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah. It’s been really intereresting getting to know all of my different classmates. Actually a lot of them I’ve had in the same courses over and over again. We’ve had group project together, so that’s kind of made something that when you’re doing an online program there’s always some worry that you won’t really be able to connect with anyone, but the group projects and having the same people in your classes from semester to semester has made what might feel like a big world a much smaller one.

It was intereresting too to get to know their backgrounds. Some people studies psychology in undergrad and this was a natural progression. I studied administrative leadership and nobody knows what that is. Then there are some people who did total career changes. There actually was a woman who’s in my cohort that se was an engineer before starting this program. She’s totally making a career move. We have people that have children, have families, are just getting married.

It’s really cool to be a part of everybody’s life as they’re in different stages. It’s made collaborating together really valuable. We’re able to support each other in different ways. Even though we’re all over the country, and some, actually a couple of people, have been out of the country, we’re still able to communicate because this all something that’s important to us. We value each other’s thoughts and opinions. It’s been really cool to have new friendships from this program.

Ellen Leggett: That’s really good to hear. I know that we have a big party for all of you at the end when you come to graduate. You will be coming soon to campus to graduate. That will be your first trip to USC, isn’t that right?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah, I’ve never been to USC’s campus, but I feel immense pride. I’m really excited, after this semester is all wrapped, I’m excited to make it out there and get to hug some of my cohort who I may have never met in person yet. I’m really excited about that.

Ellen Leggett: I just wanted to, soon you will be here for that, and wanted to again ask what you think reflecting on the time you’ve had at USC, the career impact has been for you? You were already working and having a professional life before joining the program, how has the internship and the treatise and your program here overall helped your career development?

Jennifer Reed: That’s a great question because I actually, looking back at even before I entered this program and thinking about what my interests were then, they were all scattered. I wasn’t totally sure what it was that I wanted to do. I kind of knew which direction I wanted to go but I wasn’t sure. Now, as it’s shaped up, it has narrowed my focus, which is great because now I know what jobs to look for, to put it very simply.

It was very broad, like, “Oh, consulting in organizational psychology in some way,” and then it started filtering down to more communication focus and conflict styles and leadership styles are of great interest to me. Then, having an internship in human resources at the hospital in Ireland gave me great international experience, which is really valuable, especially if you were … Well, it’s valuable for anyone but if you were thinking about going into consulting, then there are a lot of firms that are international, so it’s extremely valuable to have had that experience and immerse yourself in it.

For my treatise now, studying the communication strategy of the hospital where I was interning, it’s shaping my resume and kind of like a personal brand that I can take with me as I’m leaving the MAPP program and search for my next job.

Ellen Leggett: Thank you very much for being with us Jennifer. I really appreciate the time, especially because I know it’s a busy time for you with trying to wrap up your treatise. Let’s see if we can move on. Gina, are you going to to tell us some more information about how folks can apply?

Gina Chang: Absolutely, thanks Dr Leggett and Jennifer. The admission requirements, as long as you start an application with a bachelor’s degree, we’ll verify official transcripts as well as your GRE scores, a statement of purpose, your professional resume and three letters of recommendation is necessary when completing an application here for the MAPP program. Serena, would you like to tell us the deadline dates?

Serena Diep: Yes. Applications are currently accepted for spring 2018’s semester. The application deadline it November 15th. We do strongly recommend that all applicants try to submit their initial application by November 1st. I know in terms of transcripts, letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, it can take a little bit longer to mail to the admissions office. So do give yourself anywhere from seven to 10 days to submit your documents after you have submitted your initial application online.

Applications are also currently accepted for summer 2018 as well. Application deadline is April 15th 2018. The fall application deadline is August 5th 2018.

Gina Chang: Just to clarify, there are three different starting points. If you’re interesting in this program, you can choose to begin any of those three times. The program runs continuously, 12 months a year.

Perfect, thank you. Now we will open the floor for any questions. Please go ahead and type in your questions in the Q&A box provided below.

There’s a question that came in. Jennifer if you wouldn’t mind directing this, asked, “What were the methods used for communication between students and professors?” Would you mind sharing a little bit of insight of that?

Jennifer Reed: Yeah, absolutely. There are actually a few different communication methods. Very typically there’s email, of course, which is usually very, it’s a quick response. Then there have even been phone calls that I’ve had with professors, that would be something that you would setup with them in advantage, which is really easy to do. Then we also have, for our platform that we use for class we have different sections where you can ask questions to the professor. The rest of the students will see that a question has been asked.

That’s been a really great tool because if somebody has a question you don’t even realize that you weren’t really clear about that either. So they get the answer for the whole class, which is great. The instructors will also, they’ll give you updates and instruction and stuff in another section, where they can give you a little more information. But I would say my main method to contact professors has been through emails, and I’ve had a lot of success with that.

Gina Chang: Great, thank you Jennifer. There’s another question that’s directed to you as well. “How did you decide on the topic of your treatise? Did that topic play a role in your decision to your internship in HR at Dublin?

Jennifer Reed: That is a great question. I actually decided on my treatise topic as I was nearing the end of my internship in Dublin. I was experiencing there the organizational change that was going on and became really interested their communication strategy. I had actually had a conversation with the CEO of the hospital. He and I talked a lot about the importance of communication. So that kind of inspired my treatise topic.

I know for some other people in my cohort, they’ve had other experiences with choosing their topic. You could come into the program with a topic in mind, or an area of interest that you want to study specifically. I did, and then it ended being totally different. I’m very happy about the way that it’s shifted and changed as I’ve gained more experience. But choosing your topic is, a lot of times can be inspired by your internship, but if it isn’t always. It’s different from person to person.

Gina Chang: Wonderful. Thank you Jennifer for addressing that question. Another question came in, it states, “Do students choose internships locally if they opt out of the Dublin experience?” Dr Leggett, would you mind addressing this question?

Ellen Leggett: First of all, the Dublin experience is optional, so no one has to go to Dublin. It’s something that we developed as a way to give students an international opportunity to do the internship. Otherwise, internships are generally found in the local where the students reside. Did I answer the question?

Gina Chang: Yes you did, thank you.

Ellen Leggett: Yeah.

Gina Chang: Any other questions coming along? There was another one that came up, asking the difference between organizational psychology and consumer psychology focus. Dr Leggett [inaudible 00:36:37] taking this question?

Ellen Leggett: Sure. Generally the consumer psychology focus relies very heavily on social psychology and covers topics related to communication and persuasion. Those are traditionally areas that marketers rely upon in order to craft marketing messages and marketing campaigns. Additionally we have focus in interactive media, because social media right now is playing such a huge role in communicating with consumers.

The entire consumer experience is part of what we mean by consumer psychology. Wanting to communicate with consumers, create relationships with them and assure for a company that they have loyal consumers who’ll buy their products. The organizational psychology often is relying more on group dynamics, psychology of personality, leadership psychology. We’re focusing on how to create loyal employees.

Every company needs both. You want consumers that are loyal and will stay abreast of your products and services, but you also want loyal employees who will stay employed at your company and do good work. Those are the two areas.

Our students are required to take one course in each area in order to maximize your ability to function within any organization. One way we look at it is that you will always be, no matter what you do in your career, you will always be marketing yourself and you will always be an employee. Even if it’s just in a very person arena, both areas can be very helpful. But more importantly in today’s employment arena, using psychology and having the vision and the vocabulary and the tools to work within an organization, weaving together the points of view that are external to the consumers and the brand and the marketing, and also help the employees live and breathe the brand in a loyal way, makes the employee of the future. Good important valuable employee with new skills as we go into the future.

Gina Chang: Wonderful. Thank you very much Dr Leggett for addressing that question. It seems like we don’t have any questions coming up at this time. So what I’ve done is posted our contact information for both myself, Gina Chang, as well as Serena Diep. Feel free to write this information down and contact us for further details on applications and deadline dates, and further details of pursuing your graduate degree.

This will conclude our webinar. Thank you again Dr Leggett and Jennifer Reed for attending today’s session, [inaudible 00:39:57] time in our time together. Thank you again for your information shared. [crosstalk 00:40:06]

Ellen Leggett: Thank you Gina. Bye everyone.

Jennifer Reed: [inaudible 00:40:08] for having.

Gina Chang: Thank you everyone.