Psychology Department Alumni Newsletter
Issue #1 Spring 2019
Welcome to Connecting! This is the inaugural issue of the Psychology Department’s alumni newsletter. The title reflects its purpose. This newsletter is all about making and maintaining connections. Our hope is that it will help us stay connected with our Psychology majors. Just as Grand Valley has grown and changed since its inception, so has the Psychology department, and there are now many of you who have graduated from Grand Valley with a major in Psychology. We’d like to know what’s happening in your lives, and we’d like you to know what’s happening in the department. We also hope this newsletter helps you to connect with each other. We know that some of you remain in touch with each other. But as the years go by and you are living further and further afield, we hope this newsletter provides you with an opportunity to maintain or renew connections with former friends and classmates. We are also thinking this newsletter could foster connections between alumni and our current students. For starters, the newsletter will appear on the Psychology Department webpage. That means current students have access to it and can learn a bit about those who’ve come before them.
Over the decades we have had increasing numbers of majors. Some of you have majored in Psychology generally, and others have specialized in Behavioral Science, Special Education, Biopsychology and, more recently, Behavioral Neuroscience (our newest major). You’ve gone off to engage in all kinds of work, and while many of you are still living in Michigan, increasingly you’re living in other states as well and, in fact, all across the globe. As time goes by, we’d like to hear more about your lives and the experiences you’ve had since leaving Grand Valley. In this initial issue, we’re going to share some data that you’ve already provided to us.
Alumni Survey Responses
Back in the summer of 2016, we sent out a survey to all Psychology alumni to ask you about your experiences at Grand Valley and your life experiences since your graduation, your career pursuits, volunteer and work experiences; your satisfaction with life, your challenges and what’s going well in your life. Many of you, 845 to be exact, responded to the survey. Thanks to all of you who responded. Your responses provide a glimpse into what unfolds in our alumni’s lives after they have left Grand Valley. As you know, preparing our students for lives in the world outside of the university has always been a goal that we strive to fulfill. That’s why we were excited that so many of you have responded to the survey. We’ve been working hard coding your responses to open-ended questions and analyzing the quantitative parts of the survey so the results can be compiled to show you a clear picture of what we have learned from you.
In the first issue of this newsletter, we are going to focus on your career paths. We’ll report on the very first job that you had right after you graduated from GVSU and how long it took you to land your first job. But before we get into the numbers, we would like to let you know who responded to the survey so you know what the data represent (remember issues of sampling and generalizability from your research methods class – sound familiar?).
Some of the 845 of you who submitted surveys did not respond to the demographic questions, but among those of you who did, about 79% identified as women, 21% as men, and less than 1% as transgender. The average age was 38. The vast majority identified as White/Caucasian (91%). Less than 4% identified as African American; 3% as Hispanic/Latino(a); and less than 1% as Asian/Asian American, Middle Eastern, or Native American. Just over 1% identified as “other” or mixed race.
We also have data on the year of graduation for everyone. Broken down by decade of graduation, fewer than 2% of the respondents graduated in Grand Valley’s very early years, the 1960s; 5% in the 1970s; 6% in the 1980s; 20% in the 1990s; 34% in the 2000s; and 35% in the 2010s. Because there were so few graduates in the 1960s, we collapsed graduates from the 60s and 70s into a single group. Now let’s look a little closer at graduates grouped by decade. The data are shown in the following graphs:
A Glimpse Into the Careers of Alumni
Below, we are going to show you the kinds of first jobs that alumni have taken as well as their current jobs. We also compiled the top five most popular jobs by decade to give a closer look at what our alumni are doing. We classified the jobs you reported using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) coding system provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/soc/). All of the two digit numbers are the SOC codes.
Before we present the data on the jobs, here is a table on the length of time for our alumni to find a job and the percentage of graduates who looked for a job. All of the data were presented by decades so you can see the trends over time.
Here are the five most common jobs by decade:
To give you a better idea about the specific first jobs taken by our alumni, we compiled the first jobs that have ever been ranked as the top five most popular ones across the decades. The exemplar jobs were the actual jobs held by our alumni.
To show you a complete picture of what kinds of first jobs that our alumni have had, the following table shows all of the first jobs that alumni had across the whole sample. They are ranked by popularity.
In the survey, we asked what jobs people have right now and the specific responsibilities associated with their job. Similar to what you have seen for the first jobs, we will show you the top five most popular jobs held by alumni by decade and then all jobs held across the entire sample.
Here are the most common current jobs across the decades:
The following table shows all of the jobs currently held by the alumni who responded to the survey. They are presented in the order of popularity.
We hope these data from the alumni survey give you a good idea about the kinds of jobs that alumni across the decades started out in and currently hold. Through the survey, we have collected a lot more information about our alumni besides their careers (such as their life satisfaction, perceived obstacles in their lives, and reflections on experiences at Grand Valley). In the next issue of Connecting, we plan to share more data from your survey responses. But, we also want to know what you would like to see in upcoming issues. If you have any personal news, photos, or recollections from your life as a psychology major here at GVSU, please share them with us! If you have any thoughts, questions, or ideas about what might be featured in future issues, let us know!