USC MAP Webinar: The Student Experience
Are you curious about what it’s like to be a student in the USC M.S. in Applied Psychology online program? Here from 2018 alum David Giardino, Business Development Manager for The Walt Disney Company, as he shares his experience in the program, and how it helped boost his career.
Jacqueline Campagna: Hello everybody. Welcome and thank you for joining us today for our live webinar where we 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 and A box shown below. We’ll be sure to address these at the end of the webinar.
Jacqueline Campagna: Do not hesitate to ask questions here throughout the presentation. Looking to our agenda, my name is Jacqueline and I will be a facilitator of today’s webinar. We have with us our program director, Dr. Ellen Leggett, and our guess alum is David Giardino.
Jacqueline Campagna: Today we’ll go over the applied psychology program and curriculum, share with you some career directions, meet one of our MAPP alum, David, discuss practical implications of this degree, and finally go over next steps and how to apply.
Jacqueline Campagna: I am not 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, and also thank you to all of you who have joined us virtually. I will give you a little bit of introduction about myself. Like many of you, I studied psychology in college and didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career to utilize psychology, but I did find my way through a very winding path to a niche area of psychology which was just beginning in the late 80s, which was applying psychology to the world of courtroom dynamics and working with lawyers.
Ellen Leggett: This became my career for the next 25 years after getting my doctorate in psychology and human development at Harvard. I’ve really had a fabulous career, and it’s only been made better by ultimately coming full circle back to academia where I’ve been here at USC as professor and also program director for the past six years.
Ellen Leggett: I have really enjoyed being here at USC and helping this program grow. I really am committed to the vision of making psychology important within companies for the changing global type of problems that companies are having. And I think we’re having some really fascinating times in this program right now.
Ellen Leggett: I wanna tell you a little bit more about the advantages of applied psychology for business. Some of you may have heard of applied psychology and it’s been utilized to mean clinical psychology or working in education in some other way. But our niche for the applied psychology program is to focus on the applications for business, which are many, but we really believe that understanding human behavior is central to things like motivating employees and creating loyal customers, and that both of these areas are crucial right now in the global work place and in the global and virtual marketplace.
Ellen Leggett: Just a little bit more about these two areas, consumer psychology and organizational psychology, these are the two focus areas of our program, and we really are focusing on how psychology tools such as psychology research tools are used in both arenas to help make better business decisions and to better understand the human beings that are relevant, whether it’s talking about the external audience of consumers, looking externally at the marketplace, understanding what consumers are doing, what their trends are, how they are making decisions, and how we can build strategic marketing plans to reach consumers where they are today.
Ellen Leggett: With the organizational focus, we’re really looking at human behavior, not in the marketplace, but in the work place, internally to an organization and helping look at all the data that exists about employees to manage sometimes large organizational change, which is very prevalent. Certainly attracting and retaining top talent at businesses and corporations is paramount and even investing in employees once they are in the company through effective employee training programs.
Ellen Leggett: These are the kind of arenas that we focus on in this program.
Ellen Leggett: Why these two areas? The career outlook for both of these areas is very strong. Human resources and organizational psychologists are on the upswing, largely fueled by the changing nature of business today. And, down at the bottom of the slide, you see that market research and consumer insights is also slated for very large growth, and even the position market research analyst was noted as a top business job recently in the US News and World Report.
Ellen Leggett: And we graduate students every year who go straight into positions as market research analysts. This picture, by the way, is at the USC Credit Union here on Campagnaus where we bring together alums who are along the left side of the table there with current students on the right hand side and they are talking about their career opportunities and challenges.
Ellen Leggett: One of the ways that we believe this program is unique is that it is an accelerated degree where you can earn your degree in 16 months if you take two courses per term which is considered full time. This is a challenging pace, a challenging program. The same program on Campagnaus is taught and students graduate in one academic year.
Ellen Leggett: We have a specifically chosen faculty to work in this program who are noteworthy in that they have academic credentials as well as industry experience, and many are continuing to work in their chosen application field while they are teaching in our program. But what they have in common is their passion for the role that psychologists can play in business.
Ellen Leggett: And, lastly, we focus on the fact that this curriculum is constantly evolving. We want to be very cutting edge and increasingly globally relevant. Students learn through team based projects and real world projects, case studies, whenever possible. The opportunity to live and work abroad is also made possible through this program. We have an optional summer internship opportunity in Dublin, Ireland.
Ellen Leggett: I’m sure you have looked at these things on our website, but the requirements of this program really break into three different groups. There are required foundation courses, there are required practica, and there are elective options. So, students take most of their courses, these foundation courses cover consumer psychology, organizational psychology, and research methods in addition to a two part professional seminar.
Ellen Leggett: And the practica means that everyone in this program does a culminating treating, capstone, research project that needs to be applied and needs to be relevant to business applications. And in addition, we ask everyone to do an internship. Regardless of where you are in your own professional development, this opportunity forces you in a good way to think about your own continual learning and how you can advance your career through doing something that can be worked into your current job or that you can, if you’re in career transition, you can find a new opportunity.
Ellen Leggett: Our electives, we’re very excited about these electives that cover both organizational and consumer applications.
Ellen Leggett: As I mentioned, internships are a very large part of the program. We call them professional development opportunities because many of our students are professionals already. In fact, David who you’ll hear from later today has been an employee at Disney and there’s Disney, but we’ve also had students do internships at Disney.
Ellen Leggett: And the types of organizations that our students have found themselves in ranges from, this is just a smattering of logos to give you an idea from technology companies in Silicon Valley, because that’s where they’re based, to the entertainment industry here in LA because we have students based here. Or, non profits, even international organizations in Washington DC, public organizations, non profits, for profits, large corporations, and start ups.
Ellen Leggett: As I mentioned, the Dublin program is something we’re quite excited about. We’ve just had two cohorts go to Dublin. You’re looking at the group that just returned last summer. And one of them has already been offered a position full time to stay in Dublin. She is back in Chicago working on Visa issues but she’s really hoping that she can go back and take them up on their offer.
Ellen Leggett: The internships are specifically found for these students based on their interests.
Ellen Leggett: With that overview, I’d like to turn this program over to our guest of honor, David Giardino, who is someone I know well, a student that I was very proud to know and have in class and he graduated, walked across the stage just a few short months ago in May. David, welcome. Thank you for taking time out of your work day to join us, and you are in Florida at this moment, I believe, is that right?
David Giardino: That is correct.
Ellen Leggett: Okay. David you want to take it from here and introduce yourself?
David Giardino: Yeah, yeah. I’d love to. Hi everybody. As Dr. Leggett had mentioned, my name is David Giardino. I just completed the MAPP program this spring. A little bit about my background. I was a marketing major in my undergrad with a minor in psychology at Bryant University in Rhode Island where I’m originally from. Always looked to the Walt Disney Company as where I wanted to work someday. Thought I wanted to work in marketing there, so participated in a couple internships after my undergrad, and then was fortunate to find a full time at Disney in Orlando, originally in public relations.
David Giardino: Also, through that work and through the Disney Network, I’ve also held leadership positions in marketing strategy, and no most recently in development, primarily working between ESPN and Disney to try to find mutually beneficial opportunities in programming events and marketing for the two organizations in Orlando.
David Giardino: Well, I’ll probably end up talking more about this in a couple of slides, but really did the MAPP program because I was at a bit of a crossroads actually in my career at the time trying to figure out what the next step should be for me and enrolled in the MAPP program two years ago and completed this spring with just a wealth of new opportunities, new contacts, and really a new perspective both in the position I currently hold at Disney as well as opportunities outside of Disney that I’ve pursued in the last few months as well.
Ellen Leggett: Great, thanks David. I do want to give a shout out to David for one more honor that he did not mention, but we’ve got it on the slide here. He was the recipient of the First Mary Tenopyr Award that we have offered in this program for outstanding contributions professionally and academically.
Ellen Leggett: Let’s move on here, and can you tell us a little bit more about what your search process was that led you to USC and why did you choose USC when there are other programs out there?
David Giardino: Sure, no. So I had mentioned, I really was at a bit of a crossroads at the time that I was looking for my graduate program and with no disrespect to those that choose the MBA route, I was sitting through a lot of meet and greets with executives at Disney who said, “Oh, you should definitely go get the MBA, go get the MBA.” And for me, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I still knew that I needed to do something that was in business, applied in business, but being a minor in psychology, I always had an interest in pursuing the, what the role of consumer behavior is in the purchasing process.
David Giardino: And that was really the first thing I was looking at. Was, can I find a program that puts more emphasis on the role of consumer behavior, consumer psychology, because I actually felt like that might be the most interesting part of an MBA program, so I’d like to actually place more focus on it. The other part to me, certainly, was to find a school that is world renowned. The school that I knew would provide a fantastic curriculum, knowing that I was going to do this program online.
David Giardino: I wanted it to be an institution that I could trust, that I knew that I would get the return in terms of the time that I put into it, both in the quality of students as well as the faculty that would be teaching the program. And for me, really, what was most interesting is, I was more interested in the consumer psych part, because that was at the time, I was in marketing. And that was really what I thought I was gonna benefit the most from doing this program.
David Giardino: I thought, “Well, I’ll do the organizational psychology parts because it’s part of the degree, and that’s great, but the consumer part is really probably what will help benefit me most in my career. And what’s interesting is, as much as that has been true, and I’ve got a much clearer outlook on that piece of it, both within my marketing job and now within business development where that still comes in handy. I have so much more appreciation and understanding of the organizational side.
David Giardino: All of the different things, like change management and leadership, and culture, and performance management, things that I didn’t really know what they meant, even if I had heard the terms before, I now can put into practice both in my job and then also working externally. And that to me was, one of the more rewarding things was the part of the degree that I didn’t even anticipate really needing as much becoming the part that interested me most.
Ellen Leggett: Great. And could you mention what your thought process was approaching an online degree? Was that a plus for you? Was that something you were concerned about?
David Giardino: Yeah, no. It’s a good question. I knew I needed flexibility. I was in a situation where it’s a full time job at Disney. That also occasionally means you’re working hours into the night answering emails or what have you. Also, from a personal stand point, I’m married, my wife was looking at a grad school program at the same time. There was a lot that I was trying to balance.
David Giardino: I needed to find a program that predominantly was, or exclusively, really, was online that gave me flexibility, but I also wanted to make sure that the program had some kind of structure in place that still felt like I was connected to it based on what we were doing every week, based on the structure that the faculty had and the relationship that they had with the students.
David Giardino: It really was this kind of perfect blend of finding a program that I could feel connected to but then also, it honestly just needed to be flexible, especially since I’m on the East Coast. Couldn’t be much further, at least domestically from the institution and making sure that I could be able to do that in nights and weekends.
Ellen Leggett: Great. Let’s focus now on what it was actually like taking classes in this online program. I’ll first point out here for all of us on this webinar right now, is that this image is actually taken of a professor’s screen at his computer while he is teaching, and just to point out here in the upper right hand corner is what the professor and the student see of each other and then there’s obviously a presentation being made with slides, and then there’s also a place on the right hand side where there is chatting going on.
Ellen Leggett: So, is that representative of what some of your classes were like on occasion?
David Giardino: It was, and I will say that I thought that the live sessions that are being depicted in that photo were one of the biggest advantages of this program, particularly in terms of feeling connected. I looked at other programs that did not incorporate this, and this was really a big part of it to me because again, it’s an online program. You want to feel connected, but you also know that the amount of proactive communication you can do in a busy schedule is gonna be limited.
David Giardino: Having built in live sessions, and they varied in terms of, they were very rarely every week. A lot of times they were once a month, or once every couple of weeks, but having those live sessions where you saw every student, no matter where they were in the world, every student in that class and the professor at once, you had that real time conversation, they were either presenting these concepts to you, or many times it was the students after a couple of weeks of preparation presenting on whether it was a case study or a business project, and getting that real time feedback too.
David Giardino: That was fantastic for me, because it was still somewhat of a simulated class, right? So I was still sitting in a classroom, but I was doing it at my house. The commute is much better and it was a lot of connectivity that I thought was really essential in an online program, so you still felt like, “I’m a member of this community.”
Ellen Leggett: How did you interact with your classmates throughout the program, not necessarily in these live sessions, which for our audience means, webinars, they were webinars like we’re all in today but with a different bring and program to manage. But, how did you interact with your classmates other than those live sessions?
David Giardino: Yeah, no, that’s a good question. The program has ways kind of built in for students to interact. Obviously, I mentioned the live sessions is one of them. There’s also weekly discussion board posts where the students are constantly talking and communicating. The other part that’s important is that all of the class sizes are intimate. They’re smaller class sizes.
David Giardino: So, what ends up happening is you end up meeting and interacting with a lot of the same students through your program and you naturally start to form these connections where you start exchanging information with them. For example, for me there were a couple other people in my program that were at Disney. There were a couple other people that were in the Florida area. There were a couple other people that were in New England kind of back where I grew up.
David Giardino: And those natural connections just started to form as we learned more about each other through all of these kind of built in communication channels so that we could start to have our own kind of conversations, whether it was connected to a group project or something specific to USC or whether it was just getting to know other people personally and chatting them up to learn more about what their career path was.
David Giardino: I think one of the things I appreciated the most was the diversity of industry that my fellow classmates had. There were some people that were on that marketing side that were coming in, but there were a lot of people that did more concentrated psychology degrees in their undergrad or even came from the clinical side and were looking at the business side.
David Giardino: And for me, that was just so awesome because I don’t see that everyday in my job right now. It was great to get a different perspective. We were in the same degree now, but we came from very different areas, and it was cool to see what their career paths were and what they wanted to do after the program.
Ellen Leggett: Great. Can you just comment on the way that you did your assignments and when we weren’t doing a live webinar, how did you actually do your work? You interacted with computer program called Moodle, can you tell us a little bit about that?
David Giardino: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, sure. So yeah, Moodle was kind of the main source of where we saw assignments loaded, where we uploaded assignments as well as those discussion board posts. Typically in a class and certainly they all vary, but a lot of times in a class, each week you would have various discussion board posts based on if there was a reading that week or if there was a case study. You would have discussion board posts. There might be a separate paper or project that you were working on.
David Giardino: Most classes typically ended with some type of capstone, maybe capstone’s too strong of a word, but some sort of final project that was really a simulated business project. If it was cross cultural psychology as the example, we got a very real world case study of an organization that was struggling to figure out diversity and inclusivity issues that we had to basically be that consulting firm, that group of three or four students that tried to figure out for this organization, this global organization how they could improve those practices through the concepts we learned in the class.
David Giardino: For a project like that, that might be over the course of six or eight weeks at various check points, so that also entails meeting with them every week, or even sometimes a couple times a week to get our bearings on the project. The good thing is, it’s a widespread group of students, but they typically try to pool you in similar time zones, so for me a lot of times the bulk of my group work was done with students that were also on the East Coast, which was helpful, because of the three hour difference.
David Giardino: That was good and we tended to try to work additively to whatever that project goal was to the live sessions where in those live sessions as I mentioned, you’re not necessarily just listening to a professor. You’re the one doing the presenting with your fellow classmates and getting that feedback.
Ellen Leggett: Great. Thanks David. You’ve mentioned faculty as being an important determinant of choosing this program. Can you talk about what your experiences were with faculty overall? And I’m gonna first point out that this is a happy photo of most of the faculty taken at graduation when we last saw you, David. But, what were your impressions of the faculty.
David Giardino: Yeah, to me the faculty was, one of the biggest advantages that I took coming out of this program. You had mentioned Dr. Leggett that, a lot of the faculty are currently doing other things. They’re still within practice doing other jobs as well as teaching at USC, so, they’re able to bring in work experience that I would never see otherwise. They’re able to bring in true business case studies that they worked on to say, “What would you do in that situation?”
David Giardino: One of the things I liked about all of the faculty is how open and accessible that they were. They all had office hours every week, but they were also so receptive to just learn more about you. I always took it upon myself to shoot an email to each faculty member at the classes starting and just said, “Hey, I’d love to just strike up 30 minutes with you, learn more about what your career path is and just ask you a couple questions about some of the things I’m thinking about doing moving forward.”
David Giardino: I got immediate responses from all of them and I actually still keep in touch with a few of them very closely and still work together with a few of them very closely because that’s how kind of open and accessible they are. They want to not just kind of teach you in your courses, but they also do care about, “Hey, tell me what’s going on with you at work, or where you wanna go some day and through what I experienced before, here’s my advice on what you should be doing to help kind of get you there.”
David Giardino: Which I thought was just invaluable in this program.
Ellen Leggett: So, you were able to connect with faculty when you needed to, you found faculty accessible?
David Giardino: Always, yeah. Yeah. That to me, it’s a concern, right? For prospective students, to take an online program, I’m sure a lot of their questions would be how accessible are those faculty members, and I can say speaking first hand that they truly were and they truly went above and beyond. Again, not just within the class giving and feedback on assignments and everything else, or commenting on discussion board posts, but also setting up time separate.
David Giardino: Like I said, every single week if I had an email, a question about something related to the program or even just had a career advice type question for them, I always got a response immediately within the next day. Which again, knowing, busy lives, busy schedule, it’s just so important to have real time feedback with someone that you might not be able to just go knock on their door and put your head in to ask the question.
Ellen Leggett: Great. I appreciate those kind words, and I will say from my vantage point, the faculty really cares about mentoring. That’s one of the main reasons we’re in this program is that we love the opportunity to share what we’re doing in our day job so to speak with students who are so eager to learn.
Ellen Leggett: Okay, we’re … This is kind of our last slide, David, and I’m bragging a little bit here about this having been … This is a photo of you and me, right?
David Giardino: Yep.
Ellen Leggett: We had an opportunity to get together when you were still fairly new in the program, but the annual convention for SIOP, which is the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, happened to be in Orlando and I was there and reached out to you. You connected with me and we had a nice breakfast together, if I recall and a photo op.
Ellen Leggett: You know, looking back, how would you say the program has impacted your career and, as you say, you started out in marketing. You obviously have an interest in organizational as well. How has it impacted your career?
David Giardino: Yeah, I can give you two really good examples. One certainly is my internship. So, my internship, again, I had the full time employee, I wasn’t able to go out and get like a true 20 hour a week organizational job somewhere, the great thing about this program is its flexibility in finding another practical opportunity that fit what an internship should be, even when you’re working full time somewhere else.
David Giardino: I actually worked with one of my professors that I had one of the best relationships with, and said, “Hey, are you doing anything currently within any of your consulting work that would make sense that you could bring me in on, because I’d love to do something on the organizational development side. I’ve done a lot on the consumer side, I’d love to do something that puts some of what I learned at USC to work on the other side of this degree.”
David Giardino: And luckily, he did, and we worked with a university that was looking to figure out ways to better assess their student affairs division. Better assess and provide ways that connect what their productivity, what their goals are within their organization to these overall academic and institutional goals.
David Giardino: We built an assessment model for this university and we were actually fortunate enough to present that model to the National Convention for Student Affairs Professionals later that year. For me, it was just this highlight of doing something so completely different than what I’m doing at Disney everyday, working on this consulting project effectively for my internship and having an opportunity to present that work at a convention. I mean, again, once in a lifetime, that’s not something that I typically get to do. That was one of them.
David Giardino: Then the second one I’d say would be my treatise. I always knew I wanted to take kind of a different approach to my treatise topic and I was so appreciative that the program allowed me to kind of explore something that was a little bit different. So I work in sports. And, I do a lot with fantasy football, which I don’t know if any prospective students out there play fantasy football, it’s the time of year to be doing that.
David Giardino: And I actually had this study that I wanted to do on people that play fantasy football fans on Fandom, and how there’s a disconnect between your attitudinal and your behavioral loyalty. This idea that you’re cheering for your favorite team, but that you have kind of this conflicting interest with these other players on your fantasy team and kind of how people manage that conflict either internally, emotionally, cognitively, or more interestingly, kind of externally. What they say and what they do to others and whether they’re somewhat lying to them or lying to themselves and what implications that would have on sports organizations, on media companies, and on the NFL, on what type of product they should be serving fans in the future.
David Giardino: I was so appreciative that the program allowed me to explore this somewhat different approach to a treatise topic. Really got interesting findings on that and actually kind of continue to do some work on that screen, even at Disney right now in my role, to really look at what the role is of the future sports fan and what we need to do differently to serve that fan in the future.
David Giardino: And those are just, again, just two things in addition to being able to attend that SIOP conference, it’s just, being able to broaden my horizon and learn and be able to put these concepts to practice right away in ways that I never would have dreamed that I would ever be able to do starting this program, just in two short years how much that’s changed.
David Giardino: It’s really been incredible.
Ellen Leggett: What’s next for you? What kind of things are you doing that will carry you into the next couple of years?
David Giardino: Yeah. So, I’m still very much pursuing career aspirations at Disney. I’ve been able to take practical kind of applications from what I’ve learned at USC into my current role, which has been great. I’ve also been doing external work, and this was something that I never even dreamed of doing before this program. But now I have been doing some outside consulting and marketing, a little bit in organizational development, and I’m still pursuing some more kind of studies and insights into that fandom that I had mentioned. Some of which is within Disney and ESPN and then some of which even just personally looking to kind of put more research around what I think is an emerging topic and change in sports fandom.
David Giardino: I’d like to think that all of that was made possible by this program. Before this program, if you were to be like, “Hey, what do you do?” I would say, I would be a lot less reboast and I’d say, “I work for Disney.” And that would be the end of it. But now, as evident by that very long narrative, now for me, “Yeah, I work for Disney, and that’s very important, but here’s all the other things that I’m doing that I think make up what I get up for everyday.”
David Giardino: And to me, that’s what this program gave me more than other programs maybe could have, is because of those two equal and different applications, I learned two different sides of something and I’m able to apply them in all these different ways, in the job and outside the job.
Ellen Leggett: David, thank you. It’s great to hear you summarize all your experiences in the program and professionally. It was really helpful to talk to you. And, I’m sure there will be some questions for you, but let’s move to the final stage of this presentation and I’ll turn it back to you Jacqueline.
Jacqueline Campagna: Thank you Dr. Leggett. Thank you David for all of your great insight on. So, looking at how to apply, we accept applications through the year as we have start dates in spring, summer, and fall. Currently we are accepting applications for the spring 2019 term where classes begin Monday January 7th.
Jacqueline Campagna: The admissions requirements for our program are a completed application. 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 spring term is December 3rd, and if you are interested in summer 2019, that application deadline is April 15th.
Jacqueline Campagna: So please feel free to contact us further to discuss the program and the enrollment process. Again, my name is Jacqueline. My contact information is below. I’m the enrollment advisor for the program and we also have Serena Diep, our academic advisor. So any questions you have, feel free to reach out to us. Serena, do you want to say hello?
Serena Diep: Yes, hi everyone. My name is Serena. I am the academic advisor for the MAPP online program and as Jacqueline mentioned, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Anything I can assist with, I’m happy to help.
Jacqueline Campagna: Awesome, great. Thank you so much Serena. So now, we had some great questions, so I kind of want to dive right into these. First and foremost, great question for Dr. Leggett. As someone who’s interested in specifically in industrial organizational psychology, would you say it would be more beneficial to get an industrial organizational psychology degree or an applied psychology degree?
Ellen Leggett: That’s a great question. I’ll actually let David maybe chime in on that as well. Because I attend the SIOP conference every year, I’m quite aware of what is going on IO programs nationally, especially at the Masters level, and I can tell you that I find one of the things that makes us different and that I am very proud of is the fact that we are applied.
Ellen Leggett: Applied is in our name, it is our commitment, it’s what we do everyday. And, one of the things to bear in mind about many IO programs is that they are quite academic. Academic in building skills, but not necessarily connecting you to the business world. I think they’re likely to be longer programs and perhaps it’s worth investigating compared to our program with a shorter duration and the impact that our graduates can make in the world immediately upon graduation because they have already had experiences applying what they’re learning in the classroom.
Ellen Leggett: Any other thoughts on that, David?
David Giardino: Yeah, I mirror that just by saying, it truly depends on what that career path is, but if you are looking to do something within organizations like whether that’s working for on, consulting with, I typically thing the applied side makes a lot more sense just because again, you are able to take, again, academic principles and a lot of amazing, interesting research, but you’re able to directly apply that into current day organizational challenges and you’re able to somewhat stay more connected to how that present day organizational leader really thinks, and acts, and feels, so that it becomes a much more plied opportunity for you to hit the ground running after this program.
Ellen Leggett: Thank you.
Jacqueline Campagna: Yeah, thank you both. That was great. So, with that too, kind of piggy backing off of that, how much would you say of the program is more research based versus academic or lecture based?
Ellen Leggett: Well, lecture is a strange thing within our online program. I would say that lectures are not really the vehicle for which we deliver this program very often at all as you have, and maybe it’s hard to imagine, but as David described every week, the learning management system that we use, Moodle, has assignments and discussions, and readings laid out that need to be done in that week. But there may be a lesson that is recorded by a professor, although we’re not delivering the same lecture that we would deliver on Campagnaus at all.
Ellen Leggett: It’s a very different way of learning. Research is obviously, we have our applied research class that is required, and your capstone project will be research as well, but students are reading primary research from academic journals throughout the program.
Jacqueline Campagna: Okay, great. Thank you so much Dr. Leggett for clearing that up. We have another great question. David, I think this is gonna be a great one for you. Can you discuss in a little bit more detail the networking opportunities that you found beneficial within the program?
David Giardino: Yeah, absolutely. So, first and foremost, I saw live sessions as that first initial opportunity to network. Here is the chance to meet your fellow classmates face to face and your professor. The office hours that professors keep every week as well, as a lot of times those introductory meet and greets that they either suggest that you schedule, not necessarily mandatory, but again, just like any networking, if you take advantage of every opportunity, you’re gonna get more from it.
David Giardino: So, I think those initial opportunities to meet with faculty that are teaching your classes to learn more about them personally and give them your kind of outlook on what you wanna do and where you wanna go and see what advice they might have for you. I think, those to me popped right off as great opportunities that you have to meet, interact with, and really form more of a relationship with your professor or with other students.
Jacqueline Campagna: Okay, great. Thank you David for that. So, another few questions actually relating to the treatise. What are some examples of the treatise topics students have used in the past? Dr. Leggett, can we discuss in a little bit more detail the treatise?
Ellen Leggett: Absolutely. In spite of the ominous sounding, lofty name, treatise, this is really a project that is some kind of data driven exercise that leads to recommendations and a deeper understanding of a real company or corporate problem. The best treatises, I would say, are like David did one where there’s a real problem, there’s real data, and you are actually making recommendations to a client about how to move forward based on that.
Ellen Leggett: Students often combine their treatise project with their professional development activity and the … Sorry David, I just switched your treatise and your internship in that thing I just said last. But, the treatise can be related to you internship or not related to your internship. It’s as though, David, you did two treatises with all the work that you did. But often students are finding treatises and inspiration just looking around them at the job that they do.
Ellen Leggett: For example, I was just talking to a student recently who was doing her internship in talent management in a company that was relocating its corporate offices. And, she had an interest in stress in the workplace. That was her academic interest. And as she was in her professional development opportunity, she looked around and said, “This move of the offices is creating a lot of stress.” And she conducted a two part survey of employee attitudes and emotions regarding the move.
Ellen Leggett: The first part was before the move in anticipation of the move, how were they feeling? How were they reacting to corporate communications about it? What were their fears? What did they need to know? And then she did a second part survey after the move, after a month to assess, now that they were cross that threshold, what were their sentiments about the move?
Ellen Leggett: So, all of this information was turned back to management so that they could make decisions about how to address what employee’s needs were in a way that they had not anticipated doing, but for our student needing to do a capstone research project.
Ellen Leggett: Students have done things about advertising effectiveness, about the use of office space versus open cubicles within office space. They’ve looked at international, we’ve done international studies on shopping experiences in Mexico, on cross cultural issues where they’ve translated their survey into multiple languages in order to understand individual country identity and there’s an infinite number of topics that students can research and it’s largely driven by your personal interests.
Jacqueline Campagna: Great, thank you for that clarification, Dr. Leggett. We had a great question come in for David. What is something that you found frustrating or challenging about the online program?
David Giardino: I will say there is, again, I’m a full time employee somewhere, right? So it’s a 40 plus sometimes hour a week job and Dr. Leggett said, especially if you’re taking two classes at once, the program can be really challenging for you to make sure that, it really takes great organizational time management and that kind of stuff. I think that’s really the big piece is going from having a full time job to, ?Oh, now I’m having a full time job plus doing a graduate degree that is online.”
David Giardino: Which again, I think there’s benefit too, because of that flexibility, but then there’s also that, “Hey, if you push everything that you need to do because maybe this week you don’t have a live session and other than a couple of the discussion board posts, nobody’s really checking up on you, because you’re not going to a class once a week or three times a week. That’s the big difference to be able to manage your calendar yourself so that you don’t get to a point where it’s Friday or Saturday and you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got 10 hours of work that I need to do, that if I just spaced out across the week, it would have been a lot easier.”
David Giardino: I think learning that time management. And then again, the other part too is, candidly, I am on the East Coast. The program is on the West Coast. I think USC does a fantastic job. The live sessions never interact with my work scheduling like that. But there is that kind of amplified level of time management you need to have when you’re doing an online program, especially an online program in a different timezone to make sure that you’re meeting deadlines, that you’re not overwhelming yourself, and that you’re not putting yourself in bad positions.
Jacqueline Campagna: Great. Thank you so much, David. That was a great answer. Dr. Leggett, we had one come I think will be great for you. Would you say this program can set up students for a PhD program?
Ellen Leggett: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. There are many kinds of PhD programs, and certainly our students have lifelong learning goals and are often asking me about what kinds of programs they could pursue additional education in, and what they are doing most successfully is finding programs in, for example, leadership or educational leadership, something like that seems to be one direction that our students have gone in.
Ellen Leggett: But if you’re meaning by that question an academic PhD in an academic area of psychology like social psychology or even consumer psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, those are probably not going to be easily accessed from this program, largely because there is such an applied side of this program and those PhD programs are very theoretical and research based.
Ellen Leggett: Academic research based, not applied research. There’s a way in which our program prides itself on being able to deliver students directly into applied work in their careers. We’re not deliberately trying to prepare students for any particular career path that necessitates a PhD, including IO psychology PhDs. We feel that with a Master’s Degree, there is significant opportunity for upward career mobility and we have many guest speakers in the program who have PhDs. Even our faculty have PhDs, and they’re often saying, “You don’t need a PhD to do really fascinating work.”
Ellen Leggett: With that said, we support any student who has interest in a program that will build off of what they’ve done in this program, which usually is some kind of an applied program, or PhD.
Jacqueline Campagna: Great. Thank you so much, Dr. Leggett. Piggy backing off of that slightly, how much statistics would you say is used throughout this program?
Ellen Leggett: This is a Master of Science Degree, and I emphasize that because we believe data is king. I think in every class you will find that we are trying to teach students that data can drive better decisions than no data. Therefore, we expect students to be fluent in asking a question that you can answer with data.
Ellen Leggett: That said, you don’t need to enter with advanced statistics. We teach you in the program anything that we need to and feel that you need. One semester research course with SPSS and the statistics that are used in the business world is required.
Ellen Leggett: There is an advanced statistics class, which is primarily more geared towards what the tools are for market research and to some degree people analytics. We’re getting a lot more interest in people analytics in this program. But that’s an optional advanced course.
Ellen Leggett: Your treatise does need to be research based. Applied research, not theoretical, experimental research like you may have been exposed to, like we were all exposed to in our undergraduate programs. But, whether you do qualitative or quantitative research is your choice.
Jacqueline Campagna: Great. Thank you so much. I think we have time for one more question, and I’m gonna open it up to both David and Dr. Leggett. What types of companies or even career paths do students typically find themselves in after this program?
Ellen Leggett: I guess I’ll start with that. I think that on the consumer side, students either enter with some kind of exposure to market research or marketing, or if they’re coming straight out of an undergraduate program that is what they’re aiming for. Graduates of our program are, I think I would use the word snapped up pretty quickly anywhere in the country if they are seeking a position in consumer insights or market research.
Ellen Leggett: We have relationships with some of the largest global research companies in this arena and students are very, very well prepared to go into consumer insights market research work as well as general marketing. I would say social media marketing in particular.
Ellen Leggett: On the organizational side, again, it depends upon how much experience students have had prior to entering the program. But if there’s no experience prior to entering the program in the professional sense, and maybe you’ve been working in an HR office doing something preliminary to learn about the field.
Ellen Leggett: Students leaving this program have been able to leverage the program into positions in talent acquisition, talent management, training, learning and development, and I think the level at which you enter depends upon what you’ve done for your internship and treatise as well as combined with what kind of experiences you had previously.
Ellen Leggett: But we have students in this program who are at the very pinnacle of their career. We have CEOs in this program as well as we have students who are just coming straight out of their undergraduate program. I might ask David to comment on that mix. How did that work for you as someone who’s a seeding professional?
David Giardino: Yeah. And I would say even, too, somewhat mirroring what you said, as I think about some of the students that I knew or still keep in touch with. If they were on the consumer side, a lot of them were either in or are now in marketing strategy, brand management, some type of creative or marketing field that has to draw on consumer research or consumer insight. And then also a lot of HR offices or HR business partners, recruiting, talent acquisition.
David Giardino: For me, I started the program in marketing. I was in marketing at Disney, that is, when I started the program, and then I transitioned into business development. Did not realize just how many things that I was learning in this program could be applied to a role in BD, which is a lot of, I would even say somewhat external marketing, looking for new business ventures, acquisitions, programming opportunities. All of that has to do with client relationships, working with clients, understanding the consumer and trying to put together a package, or new event, or what have you, a project that is compelling to that end consumer.
David Giardino: The one other thing I would mention is, I would say that now when I put my resume in front of someone or when I am just talking about my background with people, I get more questions about this program than I think anything else. And I always made the joke, for me it was always the Disney part. “Oh, you work for Disney. What’s that like?” Cause everyone has experience with Disney and they always wanna know what it’s like to work there. I get more questions now about this program and I think it’s because it’s so different, you know?
David Giardino: It’s a Masters and it’s applied and it’s these two different sides of the coin that you can’t really find anywhere else and so, when you have, whether you’re consulting and the client’s interested, or whether you’re looking to network within a company and an executive is talking to you about your background, I get all of these questions about this program now because it’s different and because it’s such an emerging trend on both sides that I think there’s all of this interest and I think there’s application for this program in a variety of different fields ’cause of that.
Jacqueline Campagna: Great. Thank you both so much for that insight. I think that’s about all the time we have for today. But if we did not get to your questions, rest assured we will be sure to contact you directly and get those addressed.
Jacqueline Campagna: But I want to thank everybody for joining, and especially Dr. Leggett and David. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today in sharing all of this great information.
Ellen Leggett: Thank you for hosting us and thank you for David again. It was great to have a little mini reunion virtually with you.
David Giardino: Yeah, thank you and thank you for having me.