USC MAP Webinar: Diversity and Inclusion

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Learn more about diversity and inclusion and how you can make an impact with your next employer. Hear from USC MAP program director, Dr. Ellen Leggett, lecturer Dr. Michael V. Nguyen and program alum Justin Willliams as we discuss in greater detail the mission and values of the USC M.S. in Applied Psychology online program.

Transcript

Jessica Singer:

Hi everyone. Just a reminder to keep your phones on mute. We’re just about ready to get started. I’m going to send this over to you, Jessica.

Ellen Leggett:

Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us today at our opportunity to talk to you from the USC Master of Science and Applied Psychology program. Today we’re going to be addressing issues related to diversity and inclusion. We have two guests with us, Dr. Michael Nguyen, who is on the math faculty, and Justin Williams, who was a student who graduated in 2017 and is joining us today as an alum. Jessica, are you there?

Jessica Singer:

Yes, I am. Thank you everyone for joining us. So throughout the webinar, please remember to refresh your browsers if for some reason you feel like you’re not seeing the content that we’re talking about. Also, remember to turn the volume up on your device to hear audio, if you’re experiencing any technical issues.

Jessica Singer:

We are going to be taking questions at the end of the webinar. You’ll notice at the bottom of your screen, there’s a tab that says Q&A. So feel free to submit questions as we go along. We will save 15 minutes towards the end to address those questions.

Jessica Singer:

My name is Jessica Singer. I am the program specialist for the online program, for the Master’s of Science in Applied psychology. Today we are going to be joined by Dr. Ellen Leggett, our program director, and two special guests, Dr. Michael Nguyen, who’s one of our faculty members, and Mr. Justin Williams, who is an alumni of our program.

Jessica Singer:

We are going to be giving you an overview of the curriculum and the program itself. Then Dr. Nguyen And Mr. Williams are going to take over to give you some more information about diversity and inclusion, how we teach that within the math curriculum, and how that can be applied in the workplace.

Jessica Singer:

We will then be going over the application process. Again, we’ll be saving some time at the end for question and answer. I am going to turn it over to program director Dr. Ellen Leggett.

Ellen Leggett:

Thank you, Jessica, and thank you to our guests. I will happily introduce myself as the director of this program. Like many students and professionals who join our program, I have had a longstanding interest in psychology from my undergraduate days through getting my doctorate at Harvard in human development.

Ellen Leggett:

I’ve had several careers, but the one that I’ve had for most of my professional life has been really helping to create a field where psychology was used by trial lawyers in order to communicate better to jurors. This led me to found my own consulting firm Leggett Jury Research 20 years ago.

Ellen Leggett:

I’ve enjoyed working with trial lawyers and treating jurors as students, understanding the dynamics of jury deliberations in small groups, and understanding overall how to craft messages that make complex ideas, complex stories understandable to lay people.

Ellen Leggett:

But this program is the program that I have devoted the last seven years to and the program I think for me and for many of the faculty in the program, is the program that we wish had existed when we were at an earlier point in our career.

Ellen Leggett:

It’s been my pleasure to help build this program over the last seven years. The online programs launched in January of 2014. We have been experts developing the online education models for this program ever since. This is not a recent pandemic enterprise for us. We have devoted a lot of time as a faculty to developing a state of the art online program.

Ellen Leggett:

I think I should mention why we have focused specifically on applications of psychology to business, because there are other applications of psychology in education, in clinical arenas, and other helping professions. But from the beginning, it seems to me as though understanding human behavior is central to the activities that are fundamental to corporations and organizations.

Ellen Leggett:

There is an external audience of consumers. There is an internal audience that are the workplace employees. And that in the environment that we’re in and have been in, where both the marketplace and the workplace are global, these contributions of psychology are ever more important. Considering that today we are not only global, but virtual in the workplace and the marketplace, we believe the online education experience actually equips our graduates even more so to be relevant.

Ellen Leggett:

Consumer psychology, on one hand, organizational psychology on the other. What we believe is that they go hand-in-hand. Consumer behavior, of course, is required. The opportunity to understand consumer purchasing trends to get inside the head of the consumer, what their decision making process is, that is our sweet spot. What are consumers thinking and what are they doing? How do we communicate directly to them in a strategically impactful way?

Ellen Leggett:

Organizational psychology is looking at the lives that each and every one of us has as an employee, whether we started as our first job at age 15 or whether we’re currently 65 and thinking about retiring. It occupies the major part of our lives. Helping organizations focus on the needs of the people in those organizations is our sweet spot on the organizational psychology trajectory of this program.

Ellen Leggett:

Thinking about understanding, finding ways to get inside the head, again, of the employees in order to attract them to your organization as new hires, to train them, to help them be effective in their jobs through training, and to, overall, help them continue learning in their organizations. These are the two fundamental areas, and students in our program are exposed through required courses to both areas.

Ellen Leggett:

Why these two areas also? Well, the career outlook is good for these particular career … Out for these career areas, human resources, organizational psychology, organization development, talent management, culture and change, diversity and inclusion. These are all areas that even before the pandemic and our virtual lives that we have now, this was a job growth area that the US Bureau of Labor statistics was projecting a 53% increase in job growth through 2022, and that is still projected to increase.

Ellen Leggett:

Employee training and development, similarly, on a growth trajectory. If you look on the consumer side of our program, this too is a job growth area. In fact, even in 2013, when we were launching this program, the market research analyst position was named the number one best business job by US News and World Report, and it still is an area that our graduates are moving into. Consumer insights is the fast growing areas that, again, we’d like to be able to contribute to.

Ellen Leggett:

Both are very well-needed now. As the world changes, everyone wants to know, companies want to know: what do our employees want now? Will they ever come back to the office? What do consumers want? Now that they’ve gotten so used to shopping online and may not have been in stores, will they feel safe going in stores? Will they feel safe going in their workplace? These questions are more relevant today than ever.

Ellen Leggett:

We have been told our program is unique. We love to hear that. We want to be unique. We want to be at the cutting edge of where change is. We have created the program to be very challenging, and it is an accelerated degree program.

Ellen Leggett:

To get a master’s degree in this program, most of the students in our online program, again, I’m talking about our veteran online program, meaning the program that we started seven years ago, these are usually full-time employees and they are taking this master’s degree two courses at a time, very challenging, and can achieve the program completion in 16 months. The program includes a capstone research project and an internship, or what we really think of as a professional development opportunity for every student within that time.

Ellen Leggett:

I’m very proud of the faculty. You’ll have an opportunity to see why when you hear Dr. Nguyen speak shortly. But every one of the professors who teach us in this program has been recruited and hired specifically because they bring something to this program that we value. These are not people who have spent their entire careers in an ivory tower at a university. Every one of us has been a professional working with and consulting for organizations in so many industries.

Ellen Leggett:

I think what I love about the faculty is that we’re passionate. We really believe that psychology can contribute to industry and that it is important to do that.

Ellen Leggett:

Lastly, another way in which we differentiate ourselves, I believe, is that we not only want to be contemporary, but we’re seeking to be relevant not just today and not just in the US, but globally. We create opportunities for students to learn through team-based projects, doing real world applications in class, using data to help organizations, whether large or small, make important decisions, whether they are about a local mom and pop store or a home-based business that sells internationally, or a multinational corporation.

Ellen Leggett:

So we seek opportunities for our students to go elsewhere in the US or in the world in our program. We’re one of only a very small handful of programs that provide master’s students an opportunity to go abroad during the program.

Ellen Leggett:

What you see in this picture here and in some of the others that we’ve been dropping into this slide deck are pictures of students who have been in our online program and have visited Dubai. This is taken in the lobby of a bank that we were visiting in Dubai two years ago on spring break. We took a delegation of our students and had a one-week immersion in Dubai. Some of you may know that we also have a work opportunity abroad in Dublin for the summers. When we are able to travel again, we look forward to resuming these kinds of global opportunities.

Ellen Leggett:

The requirements, I’m sure you’ve all seen on our website. The foundation courses I’ve mentioned required course in consumer and organizational psychology, required applied research course, and a two-semester sequence in professional … What we call proseminar professional development. The practica are the internship and treatise. Of interest today is the list of electives that we have, one of which is Cross-Cultural Psychology in Applied Settings that is taught by Dr. Nguyen.

Ellen Leggett:

At this point, I’d like to turn this over to Dr. Nguyen. He is a very popular, very energetic professor in our program. His energy comes through in the online courses as much as it does in person. He is a friend and very valued colleague. Please, Dr. Nguyen, will you introduce yourself to our visitors on the webinar?

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Leggett. Welcome everyone. It is so exciting to have you all here and to share a few, not only my experience, but a class and a field that I am so, so passionate about. So I am an educational psychologist with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as culture change and organizational development.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

I have founded my own consultancy working in D&I. Prior to that, I worked as a senior researcher in global consumer insights for Vivendi, which is a French corporation that owns Universal. So as a result of that, I’ve worked on products such as World of Warcraft, Scarface, and The Bourne Conspiracy since Universal has music, movies, and games.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of consulting with employees at all levels of the organization, and have partnered with clients across North America, the EU, South Korea, Brazil, Japan, Vietnam, and China to name a few. My clients have ranged from startups to Fortune 500 companies and across the globe, and they have a broad range of functions such as human resources, information technology, marketing, legal, finance, et cetera. Also, I’ve worked with numerous …

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:16:04]

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Legal finance, et cetera. And also I’ve worked with numerous industries, including entertainment, interactive media, law, higher education, and pharmaceutical. So fortunately all that experience I bring into, not only my work, but the course that we cover, which is Cross-Cultural Psychology in Applied Settings. And this is such a key force in the sense that as globalization transforms the way we work. It is crucial to have the skills and ability to decode cultural differences. After completing my course, our students walk away fully equipped with diversity equity and inclusion competency, as well as the essential cross-cultural knowledge and tools to work effectively across the globe.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

So some highlights of topics that we cover are navigating the cultural minefield. So whether you work in a home, which many of us do now, as a home office, or broad businesses and business success, in our ever more globalized and virtual world, requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultural cultures born to our own. So in my course, I use Erin Meyer’s cultural mapping framework to guide students through, sometimes, treacherous terrain where people from historically different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Another key topic we cover is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And this is really important because many times people can confuse these different terms and use them interchangeably. And we go through and make sure not only do we understand what Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are, and I’ll cover that a bit here, but also apply it. So we learn that Diversity is expressed in myriad forms, including race and ethnicity, gender, and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, disability status, and political perspective. So I’ll give you an idea of how broad diversity is, we go beyond what most learn and understand.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

And then Equity, we work actively to challenge and respond to bias, harassment and discrimination. We also learn about policy of equal opportunity for all persons, and also about race, color, national origin, age, marital status, and so on and so forth. And also Inclusion, we learn the importance of the differences, different perspectives, and individuals, to learn more about sense of belonging and inclusion. And also a really good example I have learned from a chief diversity officer named Robert Sellers, he emphasized the importance of considering all three topics, Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, and he liked it to various aspects of attending a dance. Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party, Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the party list, and Inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

So we learn these three concepts and how they apply to organizational settings, and how we can further them. So it’s more important than ever, now, not only because of the increase globalization that’s occurring, but also in light of the pandemic, and big social justice movements that have occurred in the recent months. The demand and relevance of diversity, equity and inclusion have heightened.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

One final thing I’d like to mention in the course itself is there’s a final project, and just like Dr. Leggett mentioned, we are all about applied. So in the final project, for my course, I bring in a real relevant and recent case study. So some projects I’ve worked on recently or currently with a client, and bring it into the classroom. And the benefit of my courses, I have students, now at this point, that have taken the foundational courses. So we bring in that knowledge they learn, as well as their professional experience, as well as the cross cultural psychology, and the applied [inaudible 00:21:10] course concepts and topics that we learn. And we bring it all together to tackle a big DEI project, and students get to make a pitch and get live feedback from consultants and partners from the field that I bring in. So they get the behind the scenes of what it’s like and learn in real time. So that gives you an idea of the course.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Now the key takeaways from the course and… Oh, that’s right, I forgot. There’s another key concept I wanted to mention that is relevant also, and increasingly in companies across the globe, is also microaggressions and micro-intervention. And in case you didn’t know what microaggressions are, they’re every day slight insults or put downs, invalidations, and the sense of behaviors that many people, and people of color in particular, experience in daily interactions with generally well intentioned people. And they may be aware and unaware that these things can be demeaning towards the group.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

So we really seek to understand what microaggressions are, and what they do in organizations and the impact they have, and how to actually improve using micro intervention. And Derald Wing Sue’s work at Columbia is fantastic in teaching us about everyday words, deeds, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate the targets of microaggressions. These micro interventions help validate people’s experiential reality, their value as a person, and their affirmation to the racial or group identity. It also supports encouragement and reassurance that they are not alone. So we take concepts that people may not have a name or label to, and we help give them these terms of knowledge and back it with research evidence to help them apply it into these settings.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

So let’s talk about some of the takeaways when it comes to the careers of the many wonderful students that we have. And when I say incredible students, their careers raise from being marketers in companies such as Disney, engineers from General Mills, investment bankers, educators, as well as seasoned [inaudible 00:23:53] professionals. So we have a wide range of talented students and they come in here, and the class really helps at times, not only shape their careers and have them transition into a different position or career, but also for those that maintain their fantastic positions, they integrate the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion work and knowledge that they gained from the program into their position and their company.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

They do this by really transforming knowledge and understanding of culture, going beyond just race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, and geography. And also the course, a big one, we also do is provide DEI opportunities. So I’ll bring students in, current and also alum, into consulting projects. We will do [inaudible 00:24:57] with current students, and bring them once again into actual projects that are occurring. We’ll conduct research, we’ll present at conferences, professional conferences. There’s also access to mentors, internships as well as many other opportunities and a big, big takeaway also of our students, finally, is, two last things, is that DEI is a mindset and not an objective. DEI is not just a thing we do. It is the way we do everything.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

And lastly, and this is relevant to social justice movements that are occurring in the past few months, and they’re continuing now as being a real ally, and not just a performative one. So many of us have seen different hashtags out there that are important and popular, but activism can’t begin and end with the hashtag. So we learn when it comes to not only a personal professional standpoint, but an organizational standpoint to not just be performative. And what I mean by that is first to help you understand that an ally is someone from a non marginalized group who uses their privilege to advocate for marginalized groups. They transfer the benefits of their privilege to those that lack it.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Performative allyship, on the other hand, is someone from that non marginalized group, and they profess support and solidarity from a marginalized group in a way that either isn’t helpful or actively harms the group, and this can be done at an individual or an organizational level. So our students learn to actually be real allies and to help their organizations to be real allies as an organization as well. So that just gives you a few highlights of the incredible things we cover and do in Cross-Cultural Psychology in Applied Settings.

Ellen Leggett:

Doctor Nguyen, you inspire just listening to you. And I know that you yourself are a very deliberate mentor, and we are very fortunate to have one of the students, that I believe you have worked with, joining us here today. Would you be so kind as to introduce Justin Williams?

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Absolutely. Justin Williams, he is one of my first [inaudible 00:00:27:32], a project I worked on. I was his first reader, and I was so blown away to meet Justin for many reasons. His career, he came in with an MBA as an Electrical Engineer, and working an exec at a multinational Japanese semiconductor company. He came in incredible, and I’m thinking, “Wow, I get to work alongside this person, and add and teach to further what they’re doing incredibly already.” And I had the pleasure of working with Justin in that capacity. And also we connected well beyond because of his many talents and background, I had to. I mean, we’ve trained the best, why wouldn’t we leverage the best. So I brought him into a number of my projects that I worked on, including one with the Universal Entertainment. So Justin, please share your wonderful experience. And I’m so glad to have you here.

Ellen Leggett:

Thank you. Justin, would you tell us a little bit more about your background. Also, I was your professor as well, so I’m delighted to have you here. Can you tell us just a little bit more about your background, we’ve heard about your technical background, what was it that caused you to come to the MAPP Program?

Justin Williams:

Thank you Dr. Leggett, thank you Dr. Nguyen for having me and for the introduction. Yes, for the last decade or so, I’ve worked as a sales executive in the tech space for various multinational companies. And most recently I’ve locked [inaudible 00:13:15], a consulting firm where we’re addressing organizational challenges related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Why the MAPP Program? To answer that question I have to consider the timing of my decision. I was about two years removed from my MBA program, and during that time I had started my family, I had two kids. So the prospect of going back to school was the furthest thing from my mind. I told myself after the MBA no more school.

Justin Williams:

But during that time period, I started to lead more teams. And as we’re starting to be called on to have a greater impact in organization. Psychology had always been a passion of mine. I would study about it on my own, but with the need to have a greater impact in my organization, I started researching a little bit about programs, and came across MAPP. So for me, MAPP was about gaining the next level of understanding from my MBA program. I had a general understanding about business and strategy, but I needed to understand the organization’s better, people, in order to make the greatest impact to drive the right motivation and productivity out of my teams, and the MAPP program did just that.

Justin Williams:

Then again, one of the most rewarding things has been able to launch [inaudible 00:00:30:38], and be able to now have a methodology and an academic lens to address organizational challenges.

Ellen Leggett:

Justin, can you reflect on your time as a student doing all the various things you were doing in your life then. Was there a way in which you felt that there was a MAPP community that you were a part of?

Justin Williams:

Oh, absolutely. I needed it more than ever during that time, because I had kids, very young kids. So there was a great deal of support. It was both from the faculty side as well as classmates. There was a constant check in to see how things were going from advisors. The faculty was definitely very interested in not only how we were performing in the classroom, but just in our lives in general. And then the students, your classmates, you’re working on group assignments, they have a window into your life there. And so you learn to cultivate certain relationships, and even today, about two or three years removed from the program, I still have these relationships today and we still chat it up about our lives, and the things that are going on in our organization. So all in all you may think, “Oh, this is going to be tough. It’s hard.” But with the community, both on the faculty side and classmates.

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:32:04]

Justin Williams:

Community, both on the faculty side and classmates, you’re sure to succeed in the program.

Ellen Leggett:

And Justin, would you comment personally about the diversity that you experienced in the student body in the program? Student body and the faculty for that matter.

Justin Williams:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I was a little, to be honest, a little hesitant about this going in. After finishing my MBA, I was kind of concerned about really frankly, the caliber of students. The experience level, who I was going to be interacting with in the classroom, to what degree I’d be able to learn. I was pleasantly surprised by just the high caliber of students, their experience. It was wonderful. It made for a very enriching experience. Since graduating from the MAPP program, I’ve stayed involved. So I’ve watched the diversity and the experience of the class improve over time. Yes, psychology traditionally is female driven, but over the last two or three years of being involved, I’ve watched it grow to include more males, which has been great. And also from being a minority, I’ve also seen an increased number of minorities being a part of the program. I think overall, MAPP is well positioned in a way to increase minorities and I think it’s going to help improve the program overall. So it’s been great to see from when I started.

Ellen Leggett:

Great. Thank you so much. I guess probably a question that we would all like to hear you reflect upon is how the experience of getting a master’s degree in psychology on top of your business degree and your engineering degree has helped your career. What was the impact?

Justin Williams:

Yeah. I think at the end of the day, when you look at organizations, it’s about people. It’s to the degree that you’re able to develop relationships, motivate people, work together for everyone to work at at a high level. In my career, I’ve had an opportunity to lead various teams. That’s really important to be able to drive the right productivity and motivation out of your teams. So the MAPP program has allowed that, has allowed me to understand people in a different way. I’ve worked for multinational companies. So people that are not from the US, the MAPP program has given me the tools and the lenses to kind of understand and work with people from different backgrounds.

Justin Williams:

Probably the most rewarding thing so far has been the launch of cognitive peaks, where I’m being able to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and apply in a very practical way to something I’m very passionate about in diversity and inclusion. I’ve had an opportunity to be able to partner with Dr. Nguyen in supporting various clients. One that comes to mind is Universal, where we sat down with them, a major studio where we spent a day co-creating, brainstorming some of the challenges that they were facing from an organizational standpoint and being able to offer recommendations. So it’s been great to take what you learned from the classroom and apply it in a real sense. I’m looking forward to growing that through cognitive peaks in my day to day work in sales.

Ellen Leggett:

Justin, I recall that you did a very interesting professional development opportunity and your capstone treatise in this program, which for someone who was already an accomplished professional may have seemed at first unnecessary, but can you tell us what you did and how that experience translated to your career development?

Justin Williams:

Absolutely. I had a chance to, once again, work with Dr. Nguyen. He was an advisor for my treatise, and I took on a challenge or an issue with the company I was working for at the time with regards to expatriation. Basically that is where the company was taking engineers from Japan and bringing them to the US where they would work for a period of time. The challenge that we were having was that the ex-pats, as we call them, were not adjusting well to being in the US, and it was impacting their productivity and overall morale. So what we did was, working with Dr. Nguyen, we interviewed various ex-pats and really tried to gain a sense for what was going on and how they were adjusting.

Justin Williams:

We used various methodologies that we learned in the class to eventually come up with some recommendations and put together a expatriation playbook that I was able to present to my executive management team. I had an opportunity to actually travel to Japan and present this with my CEO. They adopted all of our recommendations, and I’ve since moved on from the company, but these recommendations are still in place today. I was able to take that with me to my new company. I like to think that it’s going to help me elevate my career at my new company.

Ellen Leggett:

I remember that very well, working with you at that time as well. So just to wrap up here, Justin, this has been really interesting, but can you tell us about overall your impressions of the faculty and working with them?

Justin Williams:

Yes. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure that I had any expectations going in, but certainly once I started to get involved and started to interact with faculty such as Dr. Nguyen, you first recognize that they’re truly experts in their field. But I think the most important thing that I’ve taken away is that faculty members, they care. Dr. Nguyen really cares. He’s very passionate about the work that he does in diversity and inclusion. So it’s contagious. You take on that passion and you want to find a way. You want to match that and figure out a way to where you can be even more impactful.

Justin Williams:

So that’s been great, and being able to take the learnings from the classroom beyond and just apply it to your personal life was something that I certainly did not expect. Then this overall network, as I mentioned before, my classmates. High caliber classmates that are truly interested, not only in the work and the things that we’ve learned, but just in life and being able to leverage their experience and their expertise in the work that they’re doing with major brands. I mean, Dr. Nguyen mentioned Disney and General Mills. Being able to understand their challenges and learn from them has been great. So it’s the network. A specific community, as you mentioned, Dr. Leggett, that you get from the MAPP program.

Ellen Leggett:

Thank you very much. I will just comment that there’s Dr. Nguyen in the back row there on the right, second to the right, in this picture from commencement, which is always a wonderful time when not only do those of us who work on the campus come, but we have students from the online program fly from all over the country in order to come to celebrate the graduation. Sometimes that feels more like a reunion than a first meeting because we have spent so much time getting to know the students.

Ellen Leggett:

Justin, thank you very much. I think we’re about at time for me to turn this back to Jessica.

Jessica Singer:

Hi. Okay. We are going to just go through the application checklist once again. So in terms of admissions requirements, we do require that everyone that apply have a bachelor’s degree. You also do need to fill out the general application, as well as take the GRE and submit your official test scores. We ask everyone to write a statement of purpose explaining their interest and why they’re interested in the program specifically. We also required transcripts from your undergraduate institution, a copy of your resume or CV, three letters of recommendation, and then the deadlines for the fall semester. The application deadline is August 3rd and the fall term is going to be running from September 7th through December 20th.

Ellen Leggett:

If I could just comment there quickly, we don’t require that you have only a bachelor’s degree, as you have heard. MBAs. We’ve also had lawyers in our program and engineers, so please, we recognize that that kind of diversity enriches the program as well. And that the overall review process that we engage in is holistic and that we are looking at the entire portfolio presented for every student. The statement of purpose is very important for us to see that you can see a connection between what your past world has been and what you want your future to be. Just as Justin was able to tell us about the work he’s done in organizations revealing to him that he would like more knowledge about psychology in organizations.

Ellen Leggett:

Okay. And Jessica, what should they do if they have more interest?

Jessica Singer:

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me. My email address is SingerJe@usc.edu. And I’m happy to answer any questions I can or point you in the direction of someone who might be able to give you more information. Also, if you have questions specific to the application process, please feel free to reach out to our enrollment services. Once you begin your application, you will actually be paired up with an enrollment advisor who will support you throughout the process and be able to help you make sure everything is submitted properly and answer any questions related to that specific process.

Jessica Singer:

Now I think we are going to go ahead and take some questions, and I’m looking at the Q and A right now. The first question we have relates to the internship. Can the internship be completed at a student’s current employer if the student is working full-time in a professional setting?

Ellen Leggett:

The answer to that is yes. In fact, we often tell students that if they’re working full time, their professional development opportunities may be close at hand as close as the company that they work for right now. Justin, could you explain how you navigated that in order to open the opportunity that you created at your employer?

Justin Williams:

Yeah, sure. I’ve worked very closely with my HR team on defining some organizational challenges. We listed various challenges and kind of prioritized them a little bit. Then ultimately I chose one that I thought that would have the greatest impact on the organization. And then I checked in with my HR director periodically throughout the process as I was going through the treatise to let her know what I was working on and how things were going. I got the necessary approval to interview or contact various employees. It went from there. It was approved and it was pretty seamless at the end of the day.

Ellen Leggett:

And you were involved in meetings and things that were for your internship as well as just the treatise.

Justin Williams:

That is correct. We’ve met periodically for the meetings to just check in to see how things were going with that. Yeah. So it was pretty much kind of [inaudible 00:44:59] process when you look at the internship and then also the meeting with the treatise that I had. That’s correct.

Ellen Leggett:

Yeah. We find that companies are eager to respond to employees that seek development. One way that it often is presented is as cross training. For example, someone who is an HR may say they’d like to learn more about marketing in order to bring together some of the things they’re learning in the program. And by approaching someone in marketing, they may be able to develop an opportunity. We have found a great success for our students in doing this kind of exploration at their own place of employment, much to their advancement. We definitely know of students who have gotten new job offers within their own company after they’ve had visibility in other areas of the company. Next question.

Jessica Singer:

Okay. The next question we have relates to the cost of the program. Dr. Leggett, would you be able to explain that a little bit more for students that are interested?

Ellen Leggett:

Yeah. I would just say that this program is not going to be the bargain education. USC is a world renowned top 20 university and the curriculum and the costs reflect that. But most students do qualify for federal aid and loans to finance their education, if need be. And one of the ways in which we have found that this being a part time program is beneficial is that it helps students to continue to have an income while they’re getting their degree. The tuition numbers and such is available on our website, the university website. Next question.

Jessica Singer:

Okay, great. The next question we have is have you had students go on to pursue a doctorate in psychology after completing this program?

Ellen Leggett:

Dr. Nguyen, I don’t know what your vision is on this, but I’m happy to say yes. I’m on the dissertation committee for a former student right now. I’m going through his dissertation proposal next week in fact. Students who are often learning in the math program become enamored with learning and reconnect to themselves as learners, which does sometimes propel them to seek additional education, whether it’s immediately thereafter or several years later.

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Ellen Leggett:

… thereafter or several years later. I say it’s more typical that it’s several years later and that the types of programs students engage in are things like global leadership, which is the student that I’m referring to right now, or delving in more specifically to career counseling or to a specialty area. But I’d say leadership and organizational topics are very typical.

Ellen Leggett:

We also have a student right now going on to get an Advanced Certificate in User Experience after just finishing the program. Our motto is, “Never say never,” but we are focused on careers, first and foremost, and that we are taking the word applied seriously, and that is applied for job and career development.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

And I’d like to quickly chime in to Dr. Leggett.

Ellen Leggett:

Please.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Sure. I’ve actually had, over just the past three years easily, at least three students that have pursued doctorates and we’re talking at top-tier institutions. So, you are right. We have them as passionate learners and they’ve gained so much that they’re inspired to even go further. And one of the students actually had such a positive experience as an adult learner in a virtual environment that that has become the topic of her dissertation. So, we not only inspire just from we teach, but also how we teach.

Ellen Leggett:

That’s a really good point. And I can think of at least five students without even trying that are getting doctorates right now. So, hopefully, that helps with answering the question. Thank you, Dr. Nguyen.

Jessica Singer:

Okay, the next question we have is, are there any in class meetings or is everything online?

Ellen Leggett:

Justin, do you want to share what your experience was in that regard?

Justin Williams:

Yeah, in my experience, it was mainly online. Certainly, if proximity allows, you have an opportunity to meet with your classmates physically, but mostly, the instruction part for me was primarily online.

Ellen Leggett:

And Michael, or Dr. Nguyen, as a professor, how do you design the courses?

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Yes, we are highly intentional and we even work together as faculty to see how we can, when the opportunities permit, knowing that there are definitely times when it’s valuable and meaningful to be able to be in person. So, there are many occasions to where students in the local area, whether it’s Los Angeles or California, will seek to meet together with faculty, and I’ve had that happen. Or when I’ve had a conference, we are really active in saying, “Hey, if anyone’s in the New York area of Florida area or wherever we’re doing a conference,” whatever students are there, we would meet up.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

But on top of that, even in our courses, we will intentionally, for venue reasons, where it makes sense to group students in, not only similar time zones, but where they are at, so they will meet in person too as well. So, there are many ways that we meet, not only just virtually, but in person, and it’s amazing all the various ways it happens.

Ellen Leggett:

And I’d also like to clarify that online does not mean a hundred percent asynchronous, that every course will have live sessions, which is a Zoom time where it’s all hands on deck, no matter where you are, what time zone, everyone logs on at the same time. These sessions never are longer than an hour, little bit longer than an hour. They’re used for, often, student presentations that are part of the course curriculum.

Ellen Leggett:

Students have been meeting virtually or in person, if they happen to live in a city where there are more students, to get ready for these presentations and the presentations are done also on Zoom using technology. So, one would say that’s online, but it’s face to face. And we love traveling around the country and visiting with our students. And we do, every year, have a dinner in conjunction with the convention for SIOP, the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Ellen Leggett:

We invite all alums, current students who live in the area, and anyone who’s attending the conference. And we’ve done these dinners that are great fun. We’ve done them in Chicago, Washington DC. This year was going to be Austin, Texas, but for COVID. And this is our way of exporting USC out to where our students may be.

Ellen Leggett:

And we, of course, love it when students come to the campus. We treat you royally, take you out to lunch possibly, and tell you, “This is your campus too, even though you’re not here every day.” And hopefully, all of us will be able to be there again soon. Any other questions? I think we have time for one more.

Jessica Singer:

Yes, there are a couple more questions. The next question is, what would you say is the average amount of time required for this program, meaning hours of work per week?

Ellen Leggett:

Well, for a student who is doing two classes at a time, there is an expectation that you are spending a significant amount of time on both each week. And I have heard students say that it is like having a part-time job, 10, sometimes 20 hours a week. Certainly during the time that you’re doing the internship, the requirements there is 15 to 20 hours a week for your internship requirement. So, it’s a challenging curriculum and the professors have I expectations. Justin or Dr. Nguyen, do you want to add anything else in?

Justin Williams:

Yeah, I can add in it is challenging in the sense of for me. I was balancing, not only my job, but also family life with kids and in the school. It ebbs and flows depending on the project. And actually, I found myself spending a bit more time, depending on the topic, because I was interested in, I was spending more time on it. It’s doable, but it is a challenge.

Justin Williams:

And I think that the faculty did a good job of making sure that you were supported, your classmates, when you’re working on group assignments, they’re able to help you there as well. So, at times, it could be stressful depending on the project, but it’s certainly doable.

Ellen Leggett:

And also-

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Yeah, I’d like to reiterate also what Dr… Oh, sorry about that, Dr. Leggett.

Ellen Leggett:

Let me just say, hopefully you didn’t feel alone as a parent multitasking with your job because many students are in that same situation and the faculty knows that. Go ahead, Dr. Nguyen.

Justin Williams:

Right, right.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

Oh, you actually mentioned, and I’ll echo what you just mentioned. That was what I was going to say is there’s a great support in the sense that faculty know, we know you, we understand you, and we’re here for you. And then, you also have your peers, that many are in the same situation where they’re working too as well. So, the support is strong, but the demand is high because we want you to grow and be successful and further whatever it is you are doing. So, success, really, we are here for you, but most certainly it is a commitment.

Ellen Leggett:

I think we have time for one more question. Do you see something, Jessica?

Jessica Singer:

Yes, here is one more question. Would the faculty recommend any books, publications, or specific topics to better prepare for the program if we were to be accepted? Is there anything Justin wished he studied up on before starting the program?

Ellen Leggett:

Justin, do you have any thoughts on that, or Dr. Nguyen? I will certainly add something after you share.

Justin Williams:

Let me see. As far as books are concerned, I studied up on just general psychology on my own, just because I had an interest in it. If I had to choose one thing that I wish I’d known a little bit more about, I think when you start looking at the quantitative side of psychology and viewing the data and stats side, that was an area where, though I had a background in math, looking at it from a psychology standpoint, I wish I had a little bit more familiarity with.

Justin Williams:

But I was able to learn a lot from my classmates in that way. And so, it helped my learning, but I think that’s probably one area that I wish I’d learned a little bit more about ahead of time.

Ellen Leggett:

Good. [Inaudible 00:58:29] answer.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

On my end, I feel there are many, many different readings that you could potentially explore it and where I’d encourage you, since we do really want to further specifically what it is you are hoping to accomplish and further in terms of your career and your goals, is I would say reach out to us. You want to reach out to us, meeting us as faculty, and even alum.

Dr. Michael Nguyen:

But as faculty, if you want to further your work in VI, I have plenty of books, publications that I can recommend, such as Global Dexterity, and all of that. But there are many different ones. So, we’d be happy for you to connect with us and let us know what it is you hope to accomplish and we will guide you.

Ellen Leggett:

Very good suggestions. I think we’re out of time now and I will turn this back to Jessica. Thank you for those great questions. And if you have additional questions that we didn’t get to, we will reply to you reading the rest of the questions that are in the Q&A box. Jessica?

Jessica Singer:

Thank you again to everyone for joining us and thank you to Dr. Leggett, Dr. Nguyen, and Justin Williams for their insight. Again, if anyone has any questions, these additional questions, we will answer those that are in the box currently. But please, again, feel free to reach out to me. My email is singerje@usc.edu, or go to our website. The online program has its own specific website and there should be a wealth of information there, as well as information about how to reach out to myself or to one of our enrollment advisors who can also assist you. Thank you again for your time and for learning more about our program.

Ellen Leggett:

Thank you, everyone.

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