“I would say it's extremely relevant all the time. A psychology degree is diverse, and you can use a psychology degree to go into any career that you want.”
– Brandie Patton, an alumna of the Department of Psychological Science
Alumna Discusses How Psychology Degree Has Opened Career Doors
Pursuing a degree in psychology can lead to many career opportunities, many of which are not typically considered by students wishing to study the subject.
Brandie Patton, an alumna of the Department of Psychological Science in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, is an excellent example of this. She currently works for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in GISAT, which stands for Global Investigations, Security Aviation and Travel.
After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in psychology, she worked in logistics for a brief time before deciding that law school was her next step. She explained that many people who obtain psychology degrees go on to law school.
"Going to law school was a new idea for me," Patton said. "I didn't know that I wanted to do it at first, but my psychology degree played very well into studying for and taking the LSAT."
As an investigator for Walmart, her degree in psychology is useful when she interviews people about alleged violations of company policy. These violations can range from allegations of fraud, financial integrity, claims of harassment or ethics infractions within the company.
Her job is to collect facts which entails evaluating allegations and then determining the next steps to be taken regarding investigation, as well as communicating with the legal team and the ethics department. All of this is followed by sitting down and talking to the people involved, which is where Patton said her psychology degree gives her an advantage.
To do her job properly, Patton has to look at someone's behavior from different angles. For an investigation to be thorough, it's essential for an investigator to evaluate the veracity of the individuals involved to help determine the next steps in the investigation.
Patton also said her psychology degree is particularly applicable in today's job market.
"I would say it's extremely relevant all the time," she said. "A psychology degree is diverse, and you can use a psychology degree to go into any career that you want."
Patton said she hopes that current psychology students are studying the subject because they genuinely enjoy it and are passionate about it. Part of going to a university, she said, is the joy of learning. She also wanted current students to know that there are many people in her line of work who came from the FBI or law enforcement backgrounds who may not have a degree in psychology, but who use psychology skills every day in their work.
Patton said she is thankful for the continued support of the U of A psychology department. She described how the professors in the department have continued to keep in touch, and how they continue to care about their students' success long after graduation. She said that Joel Freund, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, has been a great mentor ever since she has known him.
For Freund, seeing students like Patton succeed is the sweetest success. With this in mind, Freund said he and his colleagues would like to connect with even more of the program's graduates.
"If you graduated with a psychology degree, please send me an email with a brief description of your journey," he said. "We'd love to know if you are in a career you like, how you got there and how what you learned here played a role. This is very inspiring for our current students as well."
Graduates can reach Freund at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Joel Freund, Department of Psychological Science, 216 Memorial Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701.