USC MAP Webinar: Alumni Spotlight
USC’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology Online program gives students a leg up in the professional world with an enhanced understanding of how psychology impacts business and influences consumers. Hear from USC MAPP alumna, Bryce Minoski, share her experiences in the program with a unique global aspect. Hear how the USC online MAPP program helped boost her career.
Jacqueline C.: Hi, everybody! Welcome and thank you for joining us today for live webinar, where will take a look into the Applied Psychology program, and the student experience. Please be sure to occasionally refresh your browsers, and turn up the volume on your device so you can hear audio. If you have any questions, please use the Q&A box shown below; we will be sure to address these at the end of the webinar. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions here throughout the presentation.
Looking to our agenda, my name is Jacqueline, and I will be the facilitator of today’s webinar. We have with us our program director, Dr. Ellen Leggett, and our guest alum is Bryce Minoski. Today we’ll go over the applied psychology program and curriculum, share with you some career directions, meet one of our MAPP alum, Bryce, discuss practical applications of this degree, and finally go over next steps and how to apply. I’m now going to turn it over to our program director, Dr. Ellen Leggett. Dr. Leggett, thank you so much for being with us today.
Ellen Leggett: Thank you, Jacqueline. I’m really glad to be here, and welcome to all of you who are on the line today. We really appreciate your interest in our program here at USC. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I think in some ways, I’m probably similar to many of you in that I was an undergraduate student in psychology many, many moons ago on the east coast, at Mt. Holyoke College, and I didn’t really have a strong idea of where I wanted to use my career, but I did pursue a master’s degree right away from Harvard, which was a one year master’s degree that set me on a path of working in higher education. I began my career ultimately as a professor in psychology on the west coast at one of the UC campuses, UC Riverside. And on a fortuitous airplane ride, talked to the person sitting next to me, and it changed my career. Because I decided to join a startup consulting firm that was working to educate trial lawyers about how they can communicate and understand jury psychology better.
That fateful plane ride turned in to a 25 year career of being a jury consultant and working with trial lawyers all around the country on high stakes corporate cases. So I’ve been in and out of many, many corporations in this country when they’re at their worst moment, facing the court of public opinion. And I’ve really enjoyed that career. And that set me on the course of really applying psychology. And one day through another fortuitous circumstance, which I won’t go into now, I was able to meet someone at USC who told me about this great program. And long story short, I returned to academia six years ago to direct this program for USC, where we have really taken seriously the need for businesses to include employees who are trained in psychology to understand both the problems that are faced by employees, and the audiences that are external. Whether they be jurors or consumers. So it’s been my pleasure to be director of this program.
What are we really doing in this program? We really fundamentally believe that understanding human behavior is central to the crucial functions of motivating both employees and reaching the external consumers as I mentioned, but especially so in today’s global workplace and marketplace. Many of you may work in environments where you are virtually connected to your team members as employees, or you may be working at a company that sells products or services not only locally but internationally as well. Certainly the iPhone does not have a market purely in the U.S., and that is one of the ubiquitous products worldwide now.
So when we talk about consumer psychology and organizational psychology as the two areas of emphasis in our specialized, applied program, thinking about how to use psychology for business, here are some of the things that we need. That if you understand consumer psychology, you’re really trying to understand the purchasing trends of consumers, understand how consumers are making decisions, especially in today’s world, where they’re shopping online, more than going into brick and mortar stores. We take seriously that communicating to consumers, especially today, is very different than the world of advertising used to be, and lastly that we’re teaching our students to think creatively about the new ways to deliver strategic marketing plans to meet consumers where they are today.
If we talk about organizational psychology, we’re looking internally at an organization or company, at the employee behavior in the workplace. Talking about things like what do companies need to understand about their employees in order to make good decisions? And that opens up the field of people analytics, which is a growing field right now. We work with companies and their leaders on how to bring about organizational change. If there’s one thing you can count on in organizations, it is change. Nothing stays the same for very long, and we want our students to be not only comfortable with change, but help organizations navigate change. We are also very focused on how to attract and retain top talent. Because this is a primary goal of organizations, especially with so many millennials entering the workplace who are different in their mindset than older generations, and multiple generations are coexisting in the workplace right now.
All of which leads to the need for more effective training programs we have in the workplace, not only baby boomers, but digital natives now entering the workforce, and the way in which they will receive training will be very different. So our students, by having both of these areas of expertise, enter organizations with a different point of view, and perhaps see things that others may not see. And that’s our goal. Why are we focusing on these particular areas? Because the career outlook is incredible for these areas. And the growth that is expected in both of them is quite profound. Both in HR and organizational development, as well as the areas related to consumer insights and consumer marketing.
Let’s talk now about things that make our program unique. First of all, I would just like to point out that we have a faculty that is specifically chosen to work with this program. The faculty come from areas that have engaged them in consulting and work inside organizations large and small. And they have not been career academics. Many, like me, started in academia, and then listened to the siren song of business, and went off to do something in industry, and now are very fortunate to be able to teach what they’ve learned in our program. They’re passionate about what psychology means in the workplace.
This program is very challenging. I will not mince words on that; it’s a challenging program because we are in many ways blazing new paths. But you can achieve, as an online student, this degree in 16 months, taking two courses at a time, and going continuously for 16 months, including the summer. And lastly, I’d just like to point out that we believe our curriculum is not only very relevant and cutting edge, but also that it is experiential and practicum based. We want our students to have their hands on projects. Be talking to clients, and really doing the work that will be expected of them in whatever environment they’re in for their career. So we take seriously the connection between what is taught in the classes, and what is applicable to work, and we love it when students give us the feedback that what they learned in class today, they used even in their current job tomorrow, let alone their future job or career.
Could you [inaudible 00:10:30] to the next slide, Jacqueline? Okay. The next slide just shows us the program structure. Many of you may have seen this already on our website. But we do have a number of required courses that assure in 16 months, 32 units, everyone will have, 34 units, sorry … Everyone will have the same core curriculum. So the required courses, as I mentioned, consumer psychology, organizational psychology, also a research methods class, which is not going to be similar to any research methods class, I dare say you have had in the past. We assume that students in this program have had some research experience; this is a master of science degree. Therefore we take data seriously. But we will be emphasizing in this program how to use data in the real world. In other words, it’s very directed research, and not the experimental methods course you may have had way back when as an undergraduate.
There is a practicum component to this program, as I’ve said. And that includes both research, what we call a treatise, as well as a professional development opportunity, or internship. And on the right hand side of the slide you’ll see all of our electives, every student takes two electives. And we’ve got electives that are more oriented towards organizational; some are more oriented toward consumer, and some are really popular with students, regardless of which direction they go, like the interactive media class, and the cross cultural psychology class, which is extremely important, as we do emphasize for all of these students that both work and buying power are not bound by geographic boundaries any more.
And in order to make real that pledge to be relevant in the global environment, we have created two opportunities for students to engage internationally. The first is an experience for students to work abroad in Dublin. This is available to our students during the summers only, and this summer we have our largest group of online students going that we’ve had. We will have 10 online students going to Dublin, and they are placed in organizations and companies that are specific to their interests. And they will be living and working together for eight weeks in Dublin. This is our third summer of sending students. By the way, on campus students go as well, and we will have five on campus students, and they will all be living and working together in Dublin. It’s been a phenomenal program.
And I’m excited to say that, so the next slide, that this year we are unveiling another international opportunity, which is a spring break trip. We are taking our first group of students this week. Actually, I’m leaving on Saturday, for Dubai. And we have 18 students total going on this trip. 16 of them are from the online program. And many of these students will be meeting each other for the first time when they get to the hotel in Dubai, because we have students from LA, Chicago, New York, Florida, all convening in Dubai. So we’re visiting five companies in Dubai that have been very eager to meet with our students, including Korn Ferry, which is an international consulting firm for talent acquisition and executive search, and Kantar Worldwide, which is the number one company in the world for consumer insights and market research. So we’re thrilled to be making this available, and we hope, stay tuned, but we hope this will be such an exciting and successful trip that we will be scheduling a spring break international trip every year.
And that, I can think we can safely say that I’m ready to introduce our guest today. Bryce Minoski, a former student of mine, I will say, and someone that I think very highly of. Bryce was an online student in this program, has made her way through a journey that she will tell you about, from Washington, DC, now to Tunisia. And Bryce, I am delighted that you are signing on tonight from Tunisia, and are joining us. Please, can you introduce yourself a little bit to our audience? And thank you for being here.
Bryce Minoski: Well, thank you very much for having me, Dr. Leggett, and I’m excited to tell all our listeners about my career, and all the wonderful things that I enjoyed about the MAPP program. I’m originally from Washington, DC, and that’s where I’ve lived most of my life, up until I moved to Africa in 2017. I graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, and when I graduated, in my mind the natural next step for me was continuing to do the scientific research that I really enjoyed doing. So that’s about the time that I enrolled in a neuroscience PhD program in the University of Oklahoma. And while I was there, I was working in an ophthalmology lab at the Dean McGee Eye Institute, where we were studying the effects of the MRSA virus on patients with diabetes.
And while I was really enjoying some aspects of my research, and I had the opportunity to be published in a peer review journal, there were some other aspects that were not so enjoyable, such as injecting mice with diabetes inducing drugs, and waiting for them to go blind. So that was kind of a horrible thing I had to do, and I knew I kind of needed the career change, because I really enjoyed working with people. So I decided to pull out of that program, and I moved back to DC, where I joined up with a government contracting company providing the security for the embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan and also in Kandahar. Our major client there as the U.S. State Department. And at this organization is where I saw firsthand the role that psychology can play in business and the workplace. And I say that because the culture at this particular organization was not very good, and I saw how senior managers were ignoring some of the basic principles of organizational psychology that could have had a positive impact on their employees.
So from there I moved into another nonprofit organization, where I was an HR business partner, and I really, really loved that job. I specialized in employee development, training, staffing, and concept management. And it was around this time that I enrolled in the MAPP program, and I also met my now husband, who at the time was working for the State Department. And so by that long, roundabout way, it is how I eventually learned in, I think it was early 2017, that we were going to be moving to north Africa to the country of Tunisia. And so for those of you who don’t know who that is, because when I found out I was moving there, I actually did have to look that up on a MAPP, if you can picture the Mediterranean sea, with the boot of Italy extending down into its center, Tunisia is located to the southwest of the boot on the opposite coast of the Mediterranean. So the capital city is Tunis, where I live, and it’s actually further to the west than the city of Rome. So it’s not too far away from all the major European attractions everyone likes to go see.
So that has been my career thus far, and right now I am working at the U.S. Embassy here in Tunis, where I’m the Community Liaison Officer, and what that entails is essentially taking care of our American families, their kids, making sure that they are welcomed to post, they feel at home quickly so they’re able to focus on their work. I work a lot with local Tunisians, planning events with them, and really ingratiating the Americans with the Tunisians so they want us to continue staying here, and they become our partners in policy. [crosstalk 00:20:10]
Ellen Leggett: Yeah.
Bryce Minoski: Okay, good.
Ellen Leggett: So, Bryce, do you want to tell us how you came to choose the MAPP program at USC?
Bryce Minoski: Sure, so when I ultimately decided that I wanted to get a master’s degree, I knew that I wanted something that would be flexible for me. Because at the time when I was working for the nonprofit organization in DC, I was traveling, sometimes up to twice a month, to regional offices around the country. And I knew I needed a program that would allow the flexibility for me to log on at any time, so that work in advance or many after the fact. And I found that the MAPP program really fit that bill. Another criteria that I used to select USC was its reputation. I think that its reputation precedes it. Its got amazing professors that are well known within their fields, and as Dr. Leggett has mentioned, they’re not just professors that spent their entire career in academia and have no practical knowledge. I’ve had wonderful professors who really know their stuff, and have the credentials to back it up.
And then the third reason I chose MAPP program was because of the reputation I heard that it was really heavy on the practical knowledge that you could use in your job. I found that a lot of my friends and colleagues that I worked with were enrolling in these online programs that to me really seemed that they were just checking a box. They kind of phoned it in a couple times, did some blog posts, and then they got their degree after writing a big, fat check. And you know, they were really just ticking a box on their resume so that it would make them more competitive in the business world. And while that’s really important, you know, to get your foot in the door for an interview, I also really wanted the skills that were gonna set me apart and make me successful in my future job, so those were the three main reasons why I decided to go with the MAPP program.
Ellen Leggett: So your concerns about the online program were ultimately allayed?
Bryce Minoski: Yes. I think that one concern that I had about doing an online program was, am I really going to get to know my professors very well, or am I just going to be a faceless person in the class, and while I [inaudible 00:22:54] really build relationships with the other students that are in this program. And what I found was that those fears were very unfounded. That there are many, many opportunities for the students to work together, and really get to know each other. And so we had many group projects where we were calling each other in our free time, sending each other data back in forth or papers we were working on. And I saw the same students in multiple classes that I had, so over the course of, for me, it took two years to graduate, but you can graduate in 16 months. I really got to know some of these students rather well.
And then the same thing with some of my professors. I have two professors from the program that I still maintain contact with, and they recognize me, and they’re interested in the work that I’m doing here in Tunisia. And so really I was worried about that initial component of not having a face to face interaction with some of these other students and my professors, but my fears were allayed, and I feel like I have a deep bond with some of these people, even though we’ve never met face to face.
Ellen Leggett: That’s great to here, Bryce, because I think we’ve all been pleasantly surprised about that, even professors, that we feel there’s really a community with the students and the faculty. So thank you for pointing that out. So let’s talk about your international career. Can you reflect on the courses that you took, maybe any examples of courses that have been useful to you as you have made a transition to working internationally?
Bryce Minoski: Absolutely. There was, interestingly, I was think it was the second, or the last, or the second to last semester that I was in the MAPP program, they announced the brand new class cross cultural psychology in applied settings. And when they announced it, I wasn’t too interested; it kind of piqued my fancy, but I hadn’t committed to it. And then I learned that I was moving to Tunisia. So I thought, well, this is convenient. I’m going to enroll in this class, and see if I get anything out of it. And I’m so glad I did, even if I hadn’t moved abroad, I think this class would be valuable for anyone to take if they’re in business. And the reason I say that is because we’re in an increasingly globalized workforce, and I would challenge anyone in the audience tonight to go into their LinkedIn profiles, and go one or two connections out, and you’ll have somebody in there that works in a foreign country or is a foreign national or is from a different culture.
So I think that it’s a great class that I think prepares you for dealing with people from different cultures, and understanding them, and realizing that we are all approaching problems from different viewpoints and paradigms. And so it was just a great class that I think really set me up for success when I eventually moved abroad and started working in a foreign place.
Ellen Leggett: Great. I wonder if you could just take a moment, Bryce, to mention how you managed to your internship and your thesis. I personally remember that your thesis got a little bit interrupted with your transition to Tunisia, but I’m sure people wonder if they’re full-time employed, how do they find a way to meet the requirement in this program for an internship, or what we like to think of as a professional development opportunity? Can you just describe how you managed all that?
Bryce Minoski: Sure. I think, well, right off the bat I’ll say that if I can finish this program and work full-time, I think anyone can. I mean I, in the two years that it took me to complete the program, I got married, I changed jobs, and I moved across the world to Africa. And there were other people in the program that were also getting married, having babies, you know, they have busy lives; they have a lot of things going on. So I think what is great, what I’ve mentioned about this program, is that you can, it fits around your schedule and your life. And so you know, you can log in and complete work ahead of time, or I happened to email some of my professors when I knew I had a big work thing coming up, I wouldn’t be able to hand in assignments on time. And they were always very accommodating, very understanding. So that was very helpful.
In terms of the MAPP internship, which is a requirement of this program, the way, what you’ll find for a lot of students, is that they will find another area of their, where they work, that they’re interested in, maybe; maybe it’s a department that they want to learn more about, or a project that they would like to work on that they wouldn’t normally work on, and so they’ll make an agreement with their boss or their manager, and work in that section. And that’s exactly what happened for me. At the time that I was in this program, I was working for the nonprofit in Washington, DC, and we were going through a massive merger with several other smaller nonprofits. And we had a lot of work to do in HR that I was dealing with at that time. Senior management was always putting together a steering committee, essentially, comprised of people from different departments.
And I saw that opportunity to really be involved in the direction of this organization, and also to kind of get a first hand experience of organizational psychology in action. Like, this is ground level, the whole organization was changing and being reshuffled. So I actually requested to be on that steering committee, not expecting they’d say yes; but when I pointed out that I had recently completed the organizational psychology MAPP class, they surprisingly let me join the team. So I got to attend biweekly meetings where we discussed where employees would be best situated on teams, and I would make situations, you know, this team, based on research that I’ve read, would be better in a hierarchical structure, this one would be better with a flat structure.
And I think I even at one point, read a really interesting article from my MAPP class, that I then printed out about a dozen copies and brought it in to the steering committee. And I said, “I think you all need to read this so we don’t make this mistake!” And yeah, we actually as a group sat down and read it together, and they’re like, we’re so glad you’re in this program, Bryce, because we’re benefiting from it. So it ended up being a very mutually beneficial experience. So now there were, I had colleagues that were classmates that were doing internships outside of their workplace; some people had some really interesting things working in small businesses, starting up their own business, I think I remember a few students doing that. So it was a really diverse crowd, very interesting to hear what everyone was working on at the end of the semester when we finally shared what we had been working on.
Ellen Leggett: Yeah, thank you for that; that was a really, that was an example of a MAPP student stepping up, and by letting them know what you’re studying, you got a great opportunity; I think that’s a great story, Bryce. Bryce, looking ahead, from Tunisia, where do you see your professional goals evolving at this point? And how does MAPP factor into how do you see your future?
Bryce Minoski: Well, it’s really interesting; what I’ve been so pleased about with the MAPP program are the professors who I’ve mentioned, they’re not just career academics, they all worked in their fields in business. And a lot of them do consulting work on the side. And in fact, many of the professors, or the class assignments that we had to do, they would bring in the case studies that they themselves have worked on. The business projects that they had themselves consulted on. And I found that fascinating. And so I thought, I really like the field of HR, so if I continue to stay in this field, I thought down the road, wouldn’t it be fascinating to eventually do my own HR consulting business? Start that up on the side. Because for the foreseeable future, my husband and I will stay abroad. In fact, this summer, our next post we discovered is going to be in Rome, Italy, just across the Mediterranean. So we’re very excited for our three year tour there. [crosstalk 00:32:37] Yes, so hopefully there will be some vacancies in the same office that I’m working in now, the community liaison office.
But if not, there’s a lot of family members that will do telecommuting back to the United States, and they’ll do online consulting, so I feel real positive about the fact that MAPP has kind of laid the groundwork for me to eventually go down the consulting route, if that’s something I want to pursue one day.
Ellen Leggett: Well, I have to say from personal experience, knowing you Bryce, anything you set your mind to, you will succeed.
Bryce Minoski: Thank you; I appreciate that.
Ellen Leggett: Let’s just wrap this up, the next slide about the faculty; that’s a picture of some of our faculty at graduation last year, in fact. Can you just comment a little bit more about … I think you’ve already talked quite a bit about the faculty, but any final thoughts about the commitment that you found in the faculty and their relationships with students?
Bryce Minoski: Yes. I think I mentioned, I’ve had friends who have been enrolled in other online degree programs, and some of the big complaints that I hear back from them is I’m just a number, I’m one of hundreds of online students. I don’t think my professor’s even looking at my blog posts, they’re not really look at the paper that I’m turning in every week. You know, could be a TA that’s grading it. And I can say with certainty in this program that the professor that I had for the course was going over every blog post, responding to them individually, was grading my papers, giving me feedback. It wasn’t an easy A, for sure. But in the end, it was worth it, and it wasn’t just a rubber stamp diploma. It was something that I worked hard for over two years, and I’m very proud to have. And I got a lot out of it in large part because of the quality of the faculty that this program has, so I’m very grateful to you for hiring such qualified, amazing people. So thank you, Dr. Leggett.
Ellen Leggett: Thank you, and it’s great to be able to hire folks, as our online program has grown, we have been successful in recruiting really amazing faculty. And, by the way, we have really amazing alums as well, and Bryce, you certainly exemplify best of what we hope for our graduates. Thank you very much for joining us and sharing your insights and your journey. Wish you only the best of luck as you transition to Italy next. I think that’s it, [inaudible 00:35:39]. Yeah. At this point we can toss it back to you, Jacqueline.
Jacqueline C.: Thank you, Dr. Leggett. And thank you so much, Bryce. So if you are ready to apply, we accept applications throughout the year, as we have start dates in spring, summer, and fall. So currently we are accepting applications for the summer 2019 term, where classes begin Monday, May 13th. So the admissions requirements for our program are a completed application, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA, all official transcripts, GRE scores, statement of purpose, professional resume, and finally three letters of recommendation. The application deadline for the summer term is April 13th. If you are interested in fall 2019, that application deadline is August 5th.
Please feel free to contact us to further discuss the program and enrollment process. My contact information is below; again, my name is Jacqueline Campagna, and I’m the enrollment advisor for this program. We have also, I believe, Serena Diep, our academic advisor, on the line. Serena?
Serena Diep: Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. As Jacqueline mentioned, I am the academic advisor for the MAPP online program. Jacqueline is your first point of contact if you have questions regarding the program, but I’m also happy to assist students or perspectives if they want to know a little bit more about the program or are interested in potentially coming on to campus and doing a tour.
Jacqueline C.: Thank you, Serena. So now I want to open it up for Q&A. So we had a few really, really great questions come in. Ellen, I think this is a great one; this first one, for you. For students working … Actually, you know what? I’m sorry, Bryce, I think this one would be great for you! For students working full time, what would be the expectation for their course layout, especially with the internship requirement? I know you spoke to this a little bit, but can you elaborate on how you were able to balance working full time while simultaneously going to school full time?
Bryce Minoski: Sure. So you have the ability to take up to two classes at once, or one per semester. So I took two classes every semester, except for one semester where I took just one class, and the reason for that is because I knew I was going to be very busy during that time period; it was the time period of the huge merger that I was working on, and also I was planning a wedding, and getting married, and going on a honeymoon. So I decided I’m going to lighten my workload a little bit. And so as I said, I think you’ll find a rhythm. The first couple weeks are going to be tough, and you have to stay on top of the material, but eventually you get into a pattern when you know certain assignments will be due, and the great thing about the online program, again, that it has in some ways an advantage over a classroom program is that you can see when your assignments are do ahead of time, and you can even do the assignments.
So, for example, if I knew I was going to be traveling for work during a certain week, I’d look ahead to that week and try to get some of those assignments done ahead of time. And again, the professors are also super flexible, so the one class that I was enrolled in, the one semester I was getting married, I emailed the professor at the beginning of that semester, and said, “Hey, during these two weeks I’m probably going to be offline. I’m going to be getting married, and I’m going to be in my honeymoon in the Caribbean, and so, no internat access.” And she was totally understanding. Everyone’s got busy lives, and so I think, again, it just comes down to organization and finding out what your rhythm is like, and then it just becomes second nature. And then when you graduate, you don’t know what to do with all that extra time that you have, which is a good problem to have, so. That’s how you figure it out.
Ellen Leggett: If I could just add on there, I know that many students in the program do travel for work, and although we make exceptions for honeymoons, we don’t make exceptions for business trips, and people have logged in for their webinars and kept up with their requirements for participating in discussions online, even while traveling. And indeed, that’s one of the blessings of being an online student is that you can do that, even while traveling. And I will let you in on a secret, even professors have logged in to teach a class from … From personal experience, I can say have done that from Maui, and Dublin as well. So the courses move on, and being a virtual student makes that possible, no matter where in the world you are actually sitting.
Jacqueline C.: Thank you so much, both of you, that was definitely really helpful. Now with that being said, how much time do you think needs to be allocated per class per week for this program to be successful?
Ellen Leggett: Bryce, what do you think?
Bryce Minoski: Oh, you caught me off guard with that one. I would say, some weeks you can get by with maybe three or four hours, and other times you know, it feels like another day of work, you know, I would work a whole Saturday working on a paper or a group project. And so it definitely varies week to week, but I’d say on average, you know, between 6 and 8, 6 and 10. Does that sound right, Dr. Leggett?
Ellen Leggett: I think we probably tell you to have expectations that are higher than that. Because again, it depends on whether you’re taking one or two courses, but yeah, I think max per course would be 10 hours a week, if you’re doing all the reading, and it’s a week where you have assignments due. But I clearly know that student spend their weekends saying no to some social invitations, and doing their work instead. And everybody, as Bryce said, finds a way to fit it in. I know other students get up early in the morning, get to work early, and spend an hour at their desk at work doing homework before the day begins, where it’s quiet. Or do that at home. So you fit it in, but I think that it’s a, as Bryce said, on a weekly basis, there are some weeks that are worse than others.
Jacqueline C.: Great. Thank you both so much. Now one really great question came in. Students are looking over the curriculum, and they really like all the electives. Now, typically students will only choose two electives; are they able to take additional elective courses?
Ellen Leggett: As long as you are still enrolled and haven’t finished all of your requirements, you can take it, but it would be an extra course above and beyond; it doesn’t get you your degree faster, because you still have to take all the other required courses. But we have had students, for examples, they are stretching out their treatise, their thesis. For example, and since they’ve got another semester that they want to do the thesis, they may add an additional course. But it is, but you need to still be enrolled, and you still need to have some requirement that you’re working on, or you wouldn’t be able to enroll. But that’s good to hear, that you like the looks of the electives.
The UX elective, by the way, is our newest one, and it will be launching in fall. We have premiered the course on campus this spring, and the professor is now building out the course for online delivery, so it’ll be ready for fall. So we’re excited about that as our newest elective.
Jacqueline C.: Yes, very excited about that; in my experience, I’ve heard a lot of students asking about that, so I think that’s gonna be great. One question that came through, what are some examples of treatise topics students have used in the past? Ellen, do you think you can shed some light on treatise topics?
Ellen Leggett: Oh, sure. Students are incredibly creative in their treatises. And that word treatise is kind of an old fashioned word for what is a very modern requirement. Because our goals with this project are to have you apply everything that you’ve learned in the program to a real world problem. So it’s less of a, just writing a paper, and more of a project, that you identify a problem in a business or organization, related to their consumers or their employees, and then you identify what kind of data could be collected in order to assist the company organization in answering a real business problem. And then you collect the data. Do analysis of it, and write the entire thing up as your treatise.
The kinds of topics that people do are ranged everything from, I mean, Bryce maybe I’ll ask you to add in what you ended up doing. But in my own experience, a few that stand out are a student who was fascinated with millennials’ interest with high end coffee drinks. And she, she’s a consumer psychology student. She did focus groups in her home town, which was Austin, Texas. She just put up signs outside various coffee shops, and we thought, oh, no one will join into a focus group without an incentive of a coffee drink or something. And she didn’t even have to do that. She had so many people sign up that they were willing to be in her focus group. She did the entire study of how to market, you know, what is it about the psychology of young people today that makes custom coffee drinks so appealing, and why are they willing to pay so much money for theM? And then wrote a complete marketing plan for a friend of hers who was interested in launching a new coffee business. So that was one really exciting one.
We had a student, on the consumer side, a student interested in Seattle, as to Seattle has a very prominent LGBT community, and stores hang rainbow flags outside of the storefronts. And living in Seattle, actually she had just moved to Seattle for work, she was very curious as to whether that mattered to consumers, when they were choosing the stores that they would frequent. And she designed a study that was an online study where people looked at store fronts and answered questions as to whether they would enter the store, whether they would buy things, and whether they would support the store. And she varied whether they had a flag outside, a sign in the window, like a sticker of a rainbow or something. Or whether there was nothing in the window or the storefront to indicate any LGBT friendly attitude. And she had 300 people take her survey, and it was fascinating. And then she used that; she made a report for the local chamber of commerce, as to what had learned about consumers’ attention to that segment of the population.
On the organizational side, we’ve had students like Bryce, who were interested in employee stress, and one student was doing her internship at IMAX, the movie, 3D movie company here in. She was in HR, and during that time, the company was relocating their headquarters from point A to point B. And as she looked around, she saw employee stress everywhere. And she convinced HR to do a study of the stress of employees both before and after the move. And she designed the whole study, she ultimately had to have it approved by the president of the organization, and I think it got ultimately passed to the CEO. And this was distributed to all employees at IMAX in the location. Ultimately she made a recommendation to IMAX about how they could handle transitions better, and what employees still needed once they were at the new location.
And Bryce, just lastly, a comment from you about what you did.
Bryce Minoski: Sure, I had actually a somewhat similar treatise topic. The internship that I did actually naturally led into my treatise, which was addressing the overall level of employee engagement at the organization that had gone through the merger. In the aftermath of that event taking place, we found that we were losing hand over fist all the top talent from the organization. And the alarm bells started sounding, and I said, “You know, I think employee engagement is very low.” You know, morale is down because people had been let go as part of the merger or had new roles that they didn’t really want or anticipate doing. So what I did was I came up with an idea to administer an employee engagement survey to the entire organization. So I designed an assessment, and I sent the link out to the entire organization, which was I think over 500 employees.
And when I got the results in, you know, I used SPSS, and kind of saw if there were any predictors that would determine whether employee engagement was low or high in different departments or if there was any differences between men and women. Or those that had been at the company longer compared to those that were brand new to the organization. And so ultimately I was able to determine that there were some predictors, such as work/life balance, and employee growth and development, that were predictors of employee engagement. So I was able to deliver those results to the CEO of the organization, and they were able to hopefully make some changes based on their results of that report. At that point I had left the organization, but I hope that they were able to get some value out of that treatise.
Ellen Leggett: Great. I remember well that you had to kind of take a little detour, since you were moving to Tunisia in the middle of getting that treatise finished. But it was a great project. So all of these have in common that students are seeing something around them that is a real challenge, either for employees or for consumers, and trying to find a way to design a study that will lend clarity and recommendations.
Jacqueline C.: Great. Thank you so much Dr. Leggett and Bryce. We have one directed to you, Dr. Leggett, that I don’t feel that I could actually answer independently, so I am going to ask you now. Would you say this MAPP program would also be helpful for someone interested in trial consulting? Or would this require a different program of study?
Ellen Leggett: No, it would absolutely be relevant, and this program has, I’m proud to say, we have at least graduates of this program who are full-time trial consultants now, and actually did internships in trial consulting as well. There may be more; I think we have a current student who is working in a trial consulting firm as well. There’s no particular class about trial consulting, but trial consulting is an amalgam of both of these arenas. Group dynamics and leadership, a jury is 12 people. And the dynamics of that group and how it makes decisions draws both on the organizational dynamics, as well as the consumer side, is how does a company market its product, which is its position in a lawsuit, to an audience, how is a jury?
So it’s a beautiful combination of both arenas. There is in one or two classes, there is a lesson using examples from trial consulting. And I’m always excited to work directly with anyone who has an interest in that area.
Jacqueline C.: Great, thank you so much. I think we have time for two more questions. For one, Bryce, this one was for you. Was there ever a point during the program where you felt having an in person interaction or communication with your professor was needed? And if so, how did you address or overcome that challenge?
Bryce Minoski: Honestly, I can’t think of a time where there wasn’t, where whatever issue or whatever question I had could not be solved by you know, a Skype call with my professor or just a phone conversation. A lot of the professors make office hours or they’ll just give you, a lot of them just gave us their personal phone numbers, and in fact, when I was working on a group project over a long weekend, I want to say it was Memorial Day weekend, or another long holiday weekend, [inaudible 00:55:42] texting with the professor over the holiday, getting feedback and getting some questions answered. And I guess for some people, if that’s more important to you, then maybe that’s something you should consider. But honestly, for me, and I think increasingly in business, it’s not always possible to be in the same building as somebody, or even in the same continent, as we see.
So I think it’s a way of adjusting your expectations, and you still can see your classmates, you still see your professors. I for get the name of the software we used in the MAPP program, but it looked kind of like the Brady Bunch, there’s all these little Post-it size squares, and everyone’s head pops up. And so you really can’t hide in the class. You know, in addition to there being pretty small class sizes, your professor will notice if you’re not there. Or if you’ve got your headphones or you’re watching TV because they see what they’re doing. But I think that kind of holds you accountable, and so you do see your classmates, you do see, physically, your professors. Just not in the same room. And so, that’s just something to keep in mind going forward is that yes, while it is online, you still have that, in a way, face to face interaction just through a screen.
Ellen Leggett: Thanks for saying that, Bryce. And I think the faculty feels that we get to know the students well. Because it’s a virtual classroom, we are available by text. We’re not confined to the Tuesday, four to eight prime minister is that when the on campus classes meet in the evening. So we are more able to use our time spread across the 24 hours of the day as well. I will make a final comment, which his that when students come on campus finally for graduation, this feels more like a reunion than anything else. I have witnessed students running into each other’s arms with huge hugs, like such an amazing moment to meet people in person that you feel you already know. And we all feel the same way.
And I will even say that at this moment, I have not met Bryce personally. And the reason is that Bryce moved to Tunisia right when she should have been coming to Los Angeles to graduate and walk across the stage. And as you know, online dating, people fall in love, and make decisions without even meeting in person, unfortunately, sometimes. So there’s a great power to being able to connect. And we take that seriously. We are psychologists, after all. So we think we know something about interpersonal relationships, and how to form them. And therefore, we connect as much as possible. And most of the professors now do their meetings, one on one meetings with students through video. We use Zoom for all of our classes now; we’ve changed from Adobe Connect, which is what you remember, Bryce. And yeah, we’re face to face with each other for even our one to one meetings during office hours.
Jacqueline C.: Great, thank you so much. So I think that’s all the time that we have. If we did not get to your questions, rest assured I will follow up with you directly so we can get those addressed. And any questions, like I said, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. But I want to thank you all for joining. Dr. Leggett and Bryce, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today and sharing all this great information, and of course, all of you, thank you for being here.
Ellen Leggett: Thank you, Jacqueline. And thank you to all of you who are interested in our program. And Bryce, again. Thank you so much. I hope that you can have a wonderful evening now. And we will all sign off, and hope to hear from you all again soon.
Bryce Minoski: Thank you Dr. Leggett; thank you for having me.
Ellen Leggett: Buh bye now.