career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

Post by Michelle Kalehz » Tue, 01 Feb 2000 04:00:00



Hi,
I have a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and have worked in psychology-related
research for about 12 years.  Although I was clinically trained, my career
has always been very much focused in research (in the Depts. of Psychology
and Psychiatry at Stanford).  I have excellent skills in research design,    ss
statistical analysis, use of SPSS, database design/management, writing for
professional publication, and psycholological/neuropsychological assessment.
I have loved my work in research, but I am tired of the medical model and
ready to move on to a more challenging research position.  I have been
studying positions in usability or user-interface/human factors in high-tech
settings, and I am left a bit confused about the type of jobs I should be
looking for.  Do I need to take a very entry-level job (e.g., usability
assistant) or should I be looking for another type of job title?  Also, what
sorts of further education would you who are more experienced in the field
recommend?  I have taught myself HTML as a starting point.  Any advice that
you might offer would be greatly appreciated!  I am very anxious to find a
new career pursuit that will intellectually challenge me and allow me to use
my psychology knowledge and skills in a new way (i.e., non-medical, non-deficit
models of human personality/cognition/etc).

Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might offer!

Michelle
--
Michelle Kalehzan, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry
Stanford University School of Medicine
tel: 415-723-2790

 
 
 

career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

Post by Chris » Wed, 02 Feb 2000 04:00:00



(snip)

Quote:> looking for.  Do I need to take a very entry-level job (e.g., usability
> assistant) or should I be looking for another type of job title?  

Forget the title - look at the work content and the actual work. I've had
about twenty different titles over the years (some of the at the same time
- internal, external, title on cv, etc.). The title is meaningless. But of
course this applies to any job.

Chris
Lecturer, research fellow, human factors consultant, head of design, etc.,
(at the moment) - remove x's to de-spam my email address.

 
 
 

career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

Post by Peter Boers » Wed, 02 Feb 2000 04:00:00




>I have a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and have worked in psychology-related
>research for about 12 years.
[snip]
> I have been
>studying positions in usability or user-interface/human factors in high-tech
>settings, and I am left a bit confused about the type of jobs I should be
>looking for.

My advice would be to look for job descriptions that mention
"cognitive ergonomics", "user research", and/or "metal modelling". If
you're into formal modelling, look out for "task or goal analysis and
modelling".

Peter
--------------------------------------------
Peter Boersma                 General Design
http://www.design.nl/     internet solutions
anagram #42 of peter boersma: Emperor's bate
computer-human interaction? http://sigchi.nl

 
 
 

career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

Post by lev.. » Thu, 03 Feb 2000 04:00:00




Quote:> Hi,
> I have a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and have worked in
psychology-related
> research for about 12 years.  Although I was clinically trained, my
career
> has always been very much focused in research (in the Depts. of
Psychology
> and Psychiatry at Stanford).  I have excellent skills in research
design,    ss
> statistical analysis, use of SPSS, database design/management, writing
for
> professional publication, and psycholological/neuropsychological
assessment.
> I have loved my work in research, but I am tired of the medical model
and
> ready to move on to a more challenging research position.  I have been
> studying positions in usability or user-interface/human factors in
high-tech
> settings, and I am left a bit confused about the type of jobs I should
be
> looking for.  Do I need to take a very entry-level job (e.g.,
usability
> assistant) or should I be looking for another type of job title?
Also, what
> sorts of further education would you who are more experienced in the
field
> recommend?  I have taught myself HTML as a starting point.  Any advice
that
> you might offer would be greatly appreciated!  I am very anxious to
find a
> new career pursuit that will intellectually challenge me and allow me
to use
> my psychology knowledge and skills in a new way (i.e., non-medical,
non-deficit
> models of human personality/cognition/etc).

> Thank you in advance for any suggestions you might offer!

> Michelle
> --
> Michelle Kalehzan, Ph.D.
> Department of Psychiatry
> Stanford University School of Medicine
> tel: 415-723-2790

Excuse me, but what makes you  think that you are qualified for even an
entry level position? You have no applicable background, experience or
skills in interface design. Very little usability testing involves
formal experiments, so knowledge of statistics is not important. The
kind of controlled experiment design used in basic research is
completely different from what is used in usability testing. In short,
you will have to start all over again from scratch. The best bet is to
spend 2 years getting a masters in human factors or some such.

Is it good idea to put in the effort? Here's what you should know first:
You should also be disabused of the notion that interface design work is
intellectually challanging. Most of it is pure grunt work, where there
is no science, no theory and very little the constraints of time and
money drain away any possibiliy of thoughful enterprise.  There are
exceptions of course, but only at the few large corporate labs where
jobs are very difficult to get.

Are you also prepared to throw away your Ph. D.?  Graduate degrees mean
little in the technology world. All your status as a a profession will
be gone. Worse, the PhD will often be held against you, since many
employers see it as meaning that you are an "Ivory Tower" type with no
practical skills. It also means that after years of hard work to develop
skills in your area of expertise, you will likely be treated like a
second class citizen by some Jolt swilling 25 year twerp who thinks that
he can program Java he knows more about your job than you do. Lastly,
you indicate no business experience. This is the kiss of death. The
"real world" is completely different from academia, so employers rightly
shy away from people with no "real world" experience. If you haven't
been there, you will be completely shocked by the difference. In short,
you don't know what you will be getting yourself into, so think
carefully. Switching into the business world is far more than learning
new technical skills. It's entering an entirely different culture with
different rules and run by people very different from those with whom
you are familiar.

Sorry to be rough, but you should know the reality that you face. Stay
in psychology if you can. Believe me, you will be better off. Good luck.

Lev

Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

 
 
 

career transition from psych research to human factors/user interface research

Post by RLMagy » Thu, 03 Feb 2000 04:00:00


While I don't endorse Lev's first two points completely, I wholeheartedly agree
with the third point! Pay particular attention to that last bit of sagely
advice. I've often fantasized about how nice  it would have been had I stayed
within the safe confines of psychology and academia. Don't get me wrong. HF and
HCI are particularly rewarding careers, but don't think simply because you have
a psychology degree you're ready and able to jump into this new area. I've been
in an HF industrial environment for 14 years and it's a completely different
world out there compared to my days in a university. In some respects, once you
make the change, you'll find that it is irreversible..so be sure you're
committed to your choice,