Sylvia Guillory MA'12, Psychology: Research Psychologist, Leidos
Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?
My career in research began as an undergraduate student taking courses in psychology. This passion eventually led to my joining the Brandeis community as a master’s student in the psychology program. It was here that I honed my critical thinking and analytical skills before getting my PhD studying cognitive development. Following the PhD, I started my postdoc where I worked on questions related to neurodevelopmental disorders gaining a clinical perspective that complimented my more basic science training. It was during this period that I began a process of self-examination and reflection as I contemplated my next career steps and ultimately decided that the traditional academic path was not the right fit for me. Instead, I pursued research scientist positions in industry where I felt I could have a more direct and immediate impact. As a Research Scientist at Leidos, I will be supporting studies and analyses related to understanding the behavioral response to stress.
What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search?
I used the career advising resources available at the Center for Career and Professional Development for reviewing my resume when I was applying for positions and later for advice on salary negotiations when I received a job offer. I connected to these services using the website Handshake which is also a source for job postings. I also attended some of the online webinars hosted by HackMyPhD and engaged with my Brandeis network with informational interviews when exploring different career paths outside academia.
What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?
The process of working on my thesis project involved taking an ambiguous problem and determining how to solve it, managing a project independently, communicating my ideas clearly and concisely, and building up my domain expertise in human cognition. Both the technical and soft skills I developed as a graduate student at Brandeis have been transferable and valuable in my current work.
What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?
Start networking and explore what’s out there. Connect with people using informational interviews and build a network. Figure out what you enjoy by seeking internships early in your career to learn about yourself and what you want to work on and how your field of study is translated in different arenas. These opportunities will help in discovering the real-world application of projects. Take the time to think about what was it that inspired or motivated you to start your studies and then figure out how you can do that whether it is in academia or industry.