STEP – Reflection on SPSP Conference

This semester, I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a conference with the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The main event at the convention was the poster presentation, in which I “elevator pitched” my research. There were also other events such as lectures and networking that further exposed the social psychology world.

The conference was an amazing opportunity that led to a huge change in my life. Previously, I did not have a specialized area of interest in psychology. I had planned on clinical psychology purely because it was the commonly taken path. After the conference, I learned so much more about social psychology and all of the topics it entails. I became aware of my place in psychology after going to this event.

At the convention, I met many interesting individuals that helped form my change of thought in social psychology. The first interaction that stood out to me happened during my poster presentation. A man had stopped at my poster, interested by the twist of the Milgram study. Then, he explained that in the past, he too had created an interesting twist to the Milgram study. He made a virtual reality program where players were the study’s participants. I was extremely interested as I have always wanted to make research studies in a game-like format. We talked for a very long time; I was filled with courage and joy knowing that I could work in the field of psychology in this way.

The next individuals I interacted with were at an award ceremony. This event was interesting; despite its title being “award ceremony”, the event itself was actually a social hour. Even though I was slightly unprepared, I ended up meeting two women of color and started a conversation with them. As I spoke with them, I learned that they were Harvard graduate school students. They were very impressed that I was at a conference so early in my college career. Talking with them was great; they told me their journey to their current career. They also provided me with resources for people of color, such as myself, that would make me a well-rounded candidate for graduate school.

Lastly, an important person I met was a man who had worked with my professor in the past. This man is currently working on a book, gaining his material through an observational study. He is going to every state in the United States and staying at three different households. This research is going well so far; it is gaining traction and more researchers are joining the team. He spoke about his project with much excitement. I was enthralled with his project. He made me realize that observational studies capture my interest and that I desire to do this type of research.

In the end, all of these changes impacted my future greatly. All of these experiences linked the gap between my present and future. I am now more interested in the specialized area of psychology. I have goals for what kind of research I would like to do and what kind of teams I would like to join in graduate school. There are so many more opportunities than I had known previously. I am very excited to start my career journey. 

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