Elaine Wang interview
What do you currently do?
Since graduating from the Learning Sciences and Policy Ph.D. Program in 2016, I have been working at the RAND Corporation (Pittsburgh) as a Policy Researcher. I conduct research and analysis that inform policy as well as program evaluations, with a focus on PreK-12 instructional and educational systems.
What skills did you gain from completing an Education or Psychology PhD that helped in your career after graduation?
The LSAP program embedded students in research projects and meetings early and throughout, so by the time I graduated, I had already been involved in proposals, helped develop data collection instruments for multiple studies, performed analyses on various datasets, learned how to work on project teams, contributed to journal articles, and presented at conferences. These real research experiences prepared me to make the intellectual contributions that I'm expected to make in my current position.
What advice would you give to students pursuing Education or Psychology PhDs?
Following from the response above - seek opportunities to learn from multiple authentic research experiences. Those experiences expanded my analytical skills and content knowledge beyond what could be gained through course work or the dissertation. Second - learn from and network with other graduate students. They can be a great source of support during and after the program.
What advice would you give students to help them with the job search?
If possible, seek internships and other opportunities that help you get to know organizations you are considering. I had the valuable opportunity of being a Summer Associate at RAND prior to being on the job market. This helped me solidify the decision that a research institute, and RAND in particular, was the place for me. As difficult as the job search may be, I think it's important not to settle. It's important ensure a good fit between your career goals and values, and the organization you choose to work for.