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



OPEN Week: Erin Stack & Lindsey Patterson on Successfully Transitioning from Student to Professional

Hi. We are Erin Stack and Lindsey Patterson. Erin is a Community Psychology doctoral student at Portland State University (PSU) and the current student liaison for the Oregon Program Evaluation Network (OPEN). Lindsey is a former OPEN student liaison and a soon-to-be graduate of the PSU Community Psychology program. Lindsey currently works at the Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services. Since Lindsey just transitioned into the workplace and Erin is about to, we thought it would be helpful to other transitioning students and new evaluators to share what we’ve learned about effectively transitioning from student to professional.

Hot Tip # 1: Identify and work with mentors. At PSU, we work closely with faculty advisors in a mutually beneficial capacity.  We have also found it helpful to develop relationships with other students and professionals within and outside of our program. These mentorships have resulted in research methods book clubs to help stay up-to-date on current statistical trends, publication and internship opportunities, and skills to navigate the ups and downs of graduate school and career preparation.

Hot Tip # 2: Network. Relatedly, we have found it helpful to always expand our professional networks by attending happy hours and social events sponsored by a variety of organizations (including OPEN). As a student, networking can be intimidating, but with an increasingly competitive job market, it is important to build relationships with hard-working contributors in the field that could one day be colleagues or collaborators.

Hot Tip # 3: Attend conferences. Conferences provide opportunities to learn about current happenings in the field and about career trajectories in evaluation, and to develop meaningful professional relationships through networking. Conferences have the built-in perk of providing the topics of conversation for you! For example, at the OPEN conference this past March in Portland, Oregon, Stewart Donaldson kicked us off with what he believed were the future trends in Program Evaluation. This lends us an exciting and easy topic to debate and to continue generating ideas with other conference attendees.

Hot Tip # 4: Get involved in local associations. We both volunteer for OPEN. This has been helpful for cultivating relationships with evaluators in the area, identifying diverse career options related to Program Evaluation, and work with a group of individuals who share a similar passion.

Rad Resource:  Early Career Listservs and Topical Interest Groups. Some organizations have dedicated listservs and/or topical interest groups that graduate students and new evaluators can join.  For example, the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) has created a listserv for early career individuals.  These resources can provide additional connections, job postings, and new or innovative ideas related to career opportunities.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Oregon Program Evaluators Network (OPEN) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from OPEN 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.



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