AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | job hunting

Hi, we are Olya Glantsman, a visiting professor of Psychology at DePaul University and Judah Viola, a dean of the College of Professional Studies and Advancement at National Louis University in Chicago. Last month we celebrated the release of our book titled Diverse Careers in Community Psychology.

The idea for the Diverse Careers in Community Psychology was born as a response to the question often posed by our students: “What can I do with a degree in Community Psychology?” Each time we got this question, we became more and more convinced that a text like this is long overdue for students (undergraduate or graduate), professionals looking to expand, shift, or change their career, and anyone who is mentoring or advising community minded students or employees.

Below are some hot tips we culled from the results of an extensive career survey of over 400-plus participants and 23 chapters written by over 30 different community psychologists (CPs) with various backgrounds.

Hot Tips: When looking for a job

  • Keep in mind, that those with community-oriented degrees do not have a problem finding a job
  • Many professionals successfully market their job skills and competencies rather than their degree and really find a “niche” – using unique interests and talents that the organization or team needs
  • A large number of survey participants have cited using Practice Competencies in helping them secure a job and using the same competencies throughout their work
    • All respondents reported using between five and fourteen competencies
  • When searching for a practice job, start preparing while still in training, cast a broad net, and search multiple disciplines
  • Obtaining mentorship and networking are two of the most important activities one can participate in.
    • More than half (59%) of survey respondents reported that they found out about their current job through networking

Rad Resources: Job Search

  • Participants use multiple search techniques when looking for employment (e.g., job postings, networking, listservs, etc.)
  • Finding practice related job search:
    • AEA, APA, and American Public Health Association (APHA) website, Indeed.com, Idealist.org, npo.net, simplyhired.com, and careerbuilder.com

Rad Resources: Job Training

Whether you are beginning your career or trying to expand or shift into a new arena, there are lots of options and opportunities. Whatever your journey, we hope you would find more helpful tips and hints in our book.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Community Psychology TIG Week with our colleagues in the CP AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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Greetings, I’m Ann Emery from Innovation Network in Washington, DC. I also tweet and blog about evaluation. I will be posting several monthly articles to assist you with employment in the evaluation field.

As a new-ish evaluator and part-time graduate student myself, I receive a lot of questions about networking. My advice is to take an evaluator to lunch every week. You’ll learn more about evaluation and career options from these casual conversations than from any textbook or journal article.

Cool Trick: What will you talk about? Avoid the boring “what do you do at your job?” questions. (Please leave your resume at home – asking a new friend to hire you will spoil lunch and send your resume to the bottom of their pile.) Instead, infuse a few of these discussion topics into your conversation:

  • First, learn the “Ann 101” of your lunch companion. What did they study in school, have they worked in other fields, and why did they choose evaluation in the first place? It’s reassuring to hear how often major career decisions “sort of fell into place” for successful evaluators.
  • What’s the purpose of evaluation? Your textbook only contains one or two viewpoints, but the field is filled with dozens of other ideas. Does evaluation exist to influence programmatic funding decisions? Show that something worked?
  • What’s the difference between research and evaluation? Everyone has a different viewpoint on this seemingly mundane issue.
  • Are evaluators responsible for ensuring that the evaluation process and results are useful and used? The wide range of responses to this question is fascinating.
  • What types of contextual factors influence their evaluations? Leadership changes, new policies, or a fluctuating political environment? How has the economy affected the programs and evaluation process? Every evaluator has a horror story about an unexpected event that nearly derailed the entire project.
  • What makes a good evaluation? Some people say mixed methods are a “must” for good evaluation; others swear by participatory methods. What do they use in their daily practice?
  • What’s next in their career path? I’m always relieved when experienced evaluators smile and tell me, “Oh geez, I have no idea! I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up!”
  • What are the current trends in evaluation – and what’s next? Where’s the field definitely going in the next 5, 10, or 20 years, and where do they hope it’s going?

Lesson Learned: Don’t feel pressured to develop clever responses. Your job is to listen.

Hot Tip: Who should you take to lunch? Invite everyone from your city – current and past coworkers, professors, classmates, and people you’ve met through LinkedInTwitter, or blogging. You never know where it might lead. Bon appétit!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello, I am Ayesha Tillman, a fourth year Ph.D student in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Illinois). I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and my Master of Arts in Research Psychology and never dreamed of working in evaluation. After receiving my MA, but prior to coming to Illinois, I worked as an education research associate in the Research and Evaluation Section of the Arizona Department of Education for two years.

Lessons Learned:

  • There are many paths to a professional evaluation career. There are many educational paths and even more opportunities for a career in evaluation. Evaluation positions can be found in academia, private consulting firms, educational research companies and government agencies.
  •  Government agencies are a great place to work! While you likely won’t make as much as working for a private evaluation firm or an educational research company, there are lots of perks to working for the government. These agencies often have great healthcare packages, ample vacation/sick time, job security and usually support professional development.

Hot Tips:

  • Know what skills they are looking for. Government employed evaluators are usually expected to be able to write reports, give oral presentations, have comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research skills, be able to develop surveys, and analyze data using SPSS, MS Access or SAS.
  • Know the policies. In addition to the previous, you will also be expected to have some knowledge of policy or legislation as it relates to the agency you are applying for.  For example, if you are applying for a state Department of Education, you should be familiar with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
  • Know what to look for. Government agencies may not always post positions that require evaluation skills as “Evaluator”. Know what type of positions to look for. They may be titled: research associate or program specialist. Check the position description in the job posting. Don’t pass up a job because it doesn’t have ‘_JGevaluator’ in the title.
  • Know where to look. The AEA Career Center is a great place to start looking for jobs. You will also want to look at the specific government agency’s website as well. Some government agencies that hire evaluation positions are: Departments of Education (federal and state), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Government Accountability Offices.

Rad Resources:

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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