Answers from the Experts: Career Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
George Bernocco enrolled in University of Connecticut, starting his path to a psychology degree in the computer science department.
“During my time there I ultimately decided I wanted to work with humans as opposed to machines,” said Bernocco. “I suppose I was always interested in the human brain as I felt I had a skill set in empathizing with people and trying to understand them. The human brain has also always fascinated me, so I changed majors about two years into college.”
Bernocco graduated from UCONN in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Bernocco has been working in the job services field for five years. Currently, he works for the State of Connecticut for the Department of Labor, interacting with people who come into our one-stop career services office, as well as conduct workshops regarding rÃ©sumÃ© writing.
Question: What can students do with a psychology degree?
Bernocco: “A person with an undergraduate degree in psychology can go for their masters in psychology and ultimate their PhD or PsyD to become a psychologist. Also, there is the option of a medical degree to become a psychiatrist. There are those who are interested in Neuropsychology, which focuses on the biology of the brain.
“The advisors and professors I worked with at UCONN acknowledged that some people who wish to graduate with an undergraduate degree in psychology do not recognize the research aspect of the field, which includes performing studies. Those who don’t want to perform testing or studies ultimately become counselors or social workers rather than become psychologists or psychiatrists.”
Question: What are some important things you’d like to pass onto students about the field?
“Students who wish to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology have a variety of paths to choose from. The degree is versatile, and just having a degree in this economy is crucial to landing a job. I would recommend this degree to anyone whose interest lies in understanding the human mind and understanding why humans act the way they do.
“In a job interview, this degree can easily match the job you’re applying for especially if it involves interacting with people (coworkers and/or customers). From people I graduated with as well as friends with undergraduate degrees in psychology, their jobs range from human resource specialists to insurance claims.”
“My first job out of college was working for a nonprofit mental health agency, helping those with mental illness obtain employment. I was qualified for the job because my degree in psychology helped me have an understanding (and patience) of those with mental illness. The hard part of the job was trying to find employers who would have that same understanding, and be willing to hire or even allow the person to volunteer at their workplace.”
Question: What is your best advice to students?
Bernocco: “The most important lesson I learned, and it also applies outside of employment, was a sense of empathy and understanding. There have been times in the jobs I’ve had and have that clients become upset. The reasons why they are upset have ranged from their mental illness acting up to their unemployment benefits not deposited into their account. My undergraduate degree in psychology and the lessons I have learned have allowed me to de-escalate this situation and be able to say: ‘Calm down and lets figure out what is wrong.’
“When people become irate, 90% of the time they just want someone to listen. My degree has allowed me to hone in on this skill and as a result less incidences have occurred. Their immediate anger has turned around into a ‘thanks for your help.’ When someone feels like you understand them, they really can’t be angry any more.”