Laura Reimann, a child psychology undergraduate student, shares why she chose to study child psychology and gives advice for other students pursuing the major.
How and why did you choose your major?
As a freshman, I did an internship at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office, and it changed my entire outlook on mass incarceration and the effects it has on children and families. I heard devastating stories of separation, and of parents who knew their incarceration was impacting their children, but did not know how to mitigate those effects. They were scared and uncertain of where their children were and how they were doing. As I completed my internship I realized this was the area I wanted to try and help to change, but I knew that I did not want to be an attorney. So, I approached the child psychology advisor and asked for more information. He gave me some advice about how to choose a major and encouraged me to connect with Dr. Ann Masten. I read more about her research and about the classes in the major and knew this was where I wanted to be!
Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.
The child psychology major is unique because it combines a lot of different class work with field work and research opportunities. During my time as a child psychology major, I have participated in a variety of activities, including field work at the University of Minnesota Child Development Center and have participated in research in the Masten Lab of Risk and Resilience and the Shlafer Lab, which studies the effects of mass incarceration on families.
What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)
I am involved as an officer in the Child Psychology Student Organization where we participate in various events which include community service, hosting guest speakers to talk about topics our members are interested in, and free food! During my first year, I had an internship at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office where I got to see the court system in action and observe the effects of incarceration firsthand, which led to my involvement in research with Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, that systematically examines these effects. My research interests also led me to pursue an undergraduate research assistant position in the Masten Lab of Risk and Resilience, examining risk and protective factors in the lives of children experiencing homelessness and high mobility, under the direction of Dr. Ann Masten. Finally, I work on campus as a peer assistant at the University Honors Program.
In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?
Find something you are passionate about, get involved, and be assertive! The Institute of Child Development has so much to offer and it is so important to find an issue or area within the field that you are passionate about and find a way to work on it. Whether it is volunteering at a local school or spending your time in a lab doing research, make sure you love it. When you find something that you care about, be assertive and find a way to get involved. Even if you are nervous, approach professors doing research you care about and talk to them about what opportunities they know of that fall within your areas of interest. The undergraduate experience is what you make it, so pursue things you love and do not be afraid to try something new.
The Diversity in Psychology Program is designed for individuals who are historically under-represented in psychology graduate programs and who are interested in learning about graduate training in psychology, child psychology, and educational/school psychology at the University of Minnesota.
The program will feature a coordinated set of formal and informal experiences designed to familiarize participants with strategies for constructing successful graduate school applications, and to provide them with the opportunity to learn more about the experience of graduate education in UMN psychology departments.
To be eligible to apply, individuals must:
be enrolled in a college or university as a junior or senior, or who have graduated within the last two years (i.e., 2015 or thereafter). Individuals currently enrolled in a terminal masters-level graduate program in psychology are also eligible.
identify as a member of groups underrepresented in graduate training in psychology, including ethnic and racial minority groups, low-income backgrounds, persons with disability, LGBTQ+, military veterans, and first-generation college students or graduates.
Individuals must also meet one of the following criteria:
be committed to pursuing doctoral training in either child psychology or educational/school psychology. OR
be committed to pursuing doctoral training in psychology in one of the following programs of research offered by the Department of Psychology: clinical science and psychopathology; counseling psychology; cognitive and brain sciences; industrial/organizational psychology; personality, individual differences, and behavior genetics; quantitative psychology/psychometric methods; or social psychology.
Sydney Carlson, a senior majoring in child psychology in the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded a Fulbright-related U.S. teaching assistantship by the Austrian government.
Carlson is among 13 students and alumni from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to be awarded a Fulbright grant during the 2017-18 academic year.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to promote international good will through the exchange of students and scholars. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries.
The fellowship will support Smolinski’s summer research project, which will examine differences in how mothers imagine their unborn child and their relationship with the child, as well as how family planning may be associated with these differences. The project will leverage data from the Women and Infants Study of Health, Emotions, and Stress (WISHES), a study led by ICD doctoral student Colleen Doyle. Smolinski will be mentored by Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., director of the Institute.
The Masten Lab at the Institute of Child Development is seeking a Research Assistant to help with a positiveemotion coding project. The position is available immediately and open to students in any major. While this is an unpaid position, we can definitely work with you to get research credit or Honors experience for this position.
Research Activities: The project investigates how expressions of joy, pride, happiness and pleasure during a self-motivated magnetic fishing game is related to positive outcomes.
The RA will be asked to watch the videos of young children engaging in a life-size magnetic fishing game on their own. Every 15 seconds, they will code the child’s face, voice, and body on intensity of positiveemotion using a detailed coding manual. This is an advanced coding system, and you will receive training on the coding process in order to achieve reliability with the anchor coder, as well as ongoing support throughout the project. Your input into how the coding process can be modified and improved will also be encouraged.
This position may be of particular interest to individuals interested in going to graduate school in the field of psychology and seeking to gain research experience.
Previous research experience is a plus. However, we are primarily seeking individuals who are interested to learn about this topic area and have a strong attention to detail.
We are flexible about hours per week (usually RAs choose to work anywhere from 3 to 10 hours per week) and anticipate there will be a total of around 35 to 50 hours of coding and work overall from start to finish.
Please send the following:
b. Unofficial Transcript (can be downloaded for free at Onestop)
c. 1-2 paragraphs explaining why you are interested in this position
In the e-mail Subject Line, please write “Application for PositiveEmotion Project.”
Send this material to Jyothi Ramakrishnan at email@example.com. Also, feel free to e-mail me any questions you might have prior to applying!