Call me unrealistic, but I wanted to play professional soccer after I graduated from Skidmore. I figured that even if I waited a few years, it would be too late. Turns out, training for pro tryouts for a team sport on your own is really hard, and I didn't have the connections that other players coming from big Division I schools might have. Any outside chance I had dissipated when I sprained my MCL on day 1 of one of my tryouts.
I had simultaneously been coaching soccer at my old high school, but upon sustaining my injury, I realized I needed to switch gears. I wanted to get back into psychology research (a passion I discovered after loathing a finance internship one college summer, and then loving a psychology research position the following summer) and eventually apply to Ph.D. programs, so I started networking.
I was a research intern at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest public health philanthropy, where I studied childhood obesity. I identified the programs and policies that existed in places that had seen recent declines in childhood obesity rates (not psychology, but still research-related).
From there, I cold-called my way into a job after reading an article about their research in the New York Times as a research assistant in the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I studied empathy in the doctor-patient relationship and tried to get doctors to be more empathetic. Between my previous experience at RWJF and here at MGH, I realized how much I enjoyed the bridge between psychology and real-world issues.
While in Boston, I volunteered as a research assistant in a psychology lab (Professor Daniel Gilbert) at Harvard University, where I helped study failed predictions that people make about things like how they perceive fairness and what types of stories they enjoy hearing about. Working in a respected psychology lab gave me invaluable experience and built my credibility as a graduate school applicant.
I'm now a Ph.D. student in social psychology at NYU and a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow.