Alumni Stories

We asked some of our alumni how their concentration in psychology influenced them to pursue the path they're on today. Check out their responses below - you may find that some stories resonate with your own!
 

PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH...

Diana Smith, Class of 2017: I concentrated in Psychology while at Harvard, specifically in the Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology track. I was initially hooked by Jason Mitchell's introductory class, and ended up pursuing research in the Hooley lab investigating factors related to self-harm in LGBT adolescents. I decided to start taking premed classes during my sophomore year, and it was really helpful to be able to count them toward my concentration requirements as well. My research experience as an undergrad helped me get the connections and experience to get a job at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I'm currently doing research in the Psychiatry department investigating the relationship between psychological well-being and chronic medical illnesses. I am applying to MD/PhD programs this year, and I am excited to continue in the field of mental health!

Eric Reavis, Class of 2008: I was a research assistant in the Harvard Vision Lab as an undergraduate Psychology concentrator. After graduation, I spent a year at the NIH as part of the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) program, then completed my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth with Peter Tse (a former Harvard PhD student). In graduate school, I became interested in using my vision science training to study perceptual abnormalities associated with psychosis, which are poorly understood. So, I applied for and received a postdoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the NIH to do research in that area at UCLA. Recently, I took an unusual step along my career path: I’ve retained an academic position at UCLA and I am still working on psychopathology research there, but earlier this year I took on a role as a scientist at a startup company that has built a software platform for remote assessment of cognition, perception, and other psychological domains using smartphones. I’m learning a lot from the experience, and I hope that the novel tools we are working on will help open new frontiers of research.

LAW...

James Yoon, Class of 2012: I graduated from Harvard in 2012 with a concentration in Psychology and secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. I was a research assistant for Professor Joshua Greene, helping run variants of the trolley problem. I loved learning about moral cognition! But research is not for everyone, and after spending time in the lab, I decided against pursuing a career in academia. Instead, I pursued a different career path. The Affordable Care Act had recently passed, and I wanted to help with its implementation.  So, after graduation, I worked as a product designer for the health insurance exchanges in Hawaii and Vermont. I then went on to law school and now work for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As an attorney, I hope to focus on privacy and cyber security

BUSINESS... 

Katie Lantz, Class of 2015: In 2015, I graduated with a concentration in Psychology and a Citation in Spanish. After an exciting junior year summer interning in Women's Training Product Management at Nike, I decided to follow my sports/fitness passion and accepted a position in Brand Strategy at Reebok. After 3 years at Reebok, which included a stint in Global Business Planning, I decided to pursue a role in eCommerce at Wayfair. At Wayfair, I work on their Exclusive Brands team overseeing the Wall Art & Decor category. Day to day, I love working cross-functionally, meeting with suppliers, and balancing my eye for trend with my eye for data to select the best possible product for our Wayfair brands. My psychology degree provided invaluable experience taking a scoped problem and identifying appropriate data and analysis needed to solve. My professors showed me the importance of questioning the status quo and pushed me to think creatively about my own work. I am immensely grateful for these tools and look forward to applying them to future challenges in my career.  

EDUCATION & MEDICINE...

Yasmin Issari, Class of 2016: I graduated from Harvard in 2016 with a concentration in psychology and coursework in pre-med. While at Harvard, I took many psychology courses that pushed me to think critically about the youth work I was doing through the Phillips Brooks House Association. Classes like Psychology of Women with Dr. Nicole Noll and Clinical Psychology in Everyday Life with Dr. Lauren Santucci complemented my interests in youth development and education, and thanks to this, I spent the year after graduation in Medellin, Colombia doing youth development work with former child soldiers and performing qualitative research on methods of coping with trauma. After two more years working in the education field as an advisor for college freshman with uAspire in Boston, I am now excited to start medical school and further bridge my interests in medicine, education, and mental health!

ENTERTAINMENT...

Clara Yoon, Class of 2012: My freshman year, I was looking for an on-campus job, and I happened to land one at the Lab for Developmental Studies under Prof. Susan Carey. That directly led to concentrating in Psychology, and I was at LDS for all four years of college studying how infants acquire language. When I graduated in 2012, I thought I was going to go to medical school and so, I worked for a couple years at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But one day, I realized that I was telling my friends that if I could do anything in the world, I would want to do kids' TV. And I had the epiphany that I could go and do that! So I then went to the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the TIE program, and while there, I interned at PBS's Antiques Roadshow. I ended up working at Roadshow as the Digital Production Coordinator. After three years at Roadshow, I moved across the country to Los Angeles and I now work at Disney Channel Original Movies. My academic background studying developmental psychology not only helps to inform the work that I do, but played a pivotal role in getting me here - It helped me to realize that I love working with and for kids, and now I get to do that every day!

SOCIAL POLICY...

Yiping Li, Class of 2019: I graduated with a concentration in Psychology and a secondary in Classics. While I loved all of my classes, I wasn’t sure if academia was the right path for me. However, because of courses like PSY 1900 and 1901, as well as the opportunity to conduct empirical research, I built a strong quantitative and analytical skillset that allowed me to engage in research outside the field of Psychology. That is how I eventually came to work as a research assistant in the Access to Justice Lab at HLS, where I used the QuALMRI framework to analyze empirical research conducted in the legal fields. The focus on written work in Psychology, as opposed to multi-choice exams, has allowed me to communicate technical findings effectively to a multitude of audiences. Now, I work as a policy associate at J-PAL North America, housed in the Economics department of MIT, where I support researchers and organizations in the generation of rigorous evidence to inform social policies. In my role, I use my research skillset daily to understand the newest evidence in Economics and my writing skills to effectively communicate these findings to a broader audience.