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What Are You Doing With That Psychology Major?

Douglas A. Lepisto, K’04, speaks at the Psychology Colloquium (Meredith Ashton/The Index) Douglas A. Lepisto, K’04, speaks at the Psychology Colloquium (Meredith Ashton/The Index)

Every college student, especially those in the liberal arts, is familiar with the “so what are you doing after college?” question. The quarterly colloquium talks sponsored by Kalamazoo College’s Psychology department provide some potential answers to these big questions. Last Tuesday’s discussion was hosted by Douglas A. Lepisto, Ph.D., K’04, who is currently a professor at Western Michigan University (WMU).


Lepisto was introduced by Professor Robert Batsell. “These S.I.P. materials matter, kids,” said Batsell as he waved Lepisto’s 2004 SIP folder in the air. “You never know when they’ll be used as a prop to introduce you to an audience,” he joked.


“It’s pretty weird to be back here 13 years later,” said Lepisto, who went on to say that “K really provides you with the critical thinking and breadth to be successful after college.”


Lepisto was a Psychology major and a Sociology minor at K, and he is now a specialist in the field of Organizational Behavior Psychology. He assured current Psychology students that he also didn’t know the answer to the “what are you doing after graduation” question when he was a college senior.


Lepisto described his journey after graduating from K, where he worked for an advertising agency and then received his masters in Sociology from the University of Chicago. He found the subject too abstract, so he switched gears to more applied work with the Monitor consulting firm. Lepisto then transitioned to Boston College where he studied qualitative research methods, and upon graduation he returned to Kalamazoo, MI to teach at WMU.


“The moral of the story is that your path always makes sense after the fact,” said Lepisto in reference to his own seemingly disjointed career path. “Don’t think about it—go do it. That’s the only way you’ll figure out what you really want to do.”


Lepisto’s journey brought him to the field of Organizational Behavior (OB), which encompasses a broad range of psychological study.  The discussion focused on three perspectives of Organizational Behavior: behaviors relevant to organizations, behavior in the context of a particular organization, and behavior as necessary for the task of organizing.


“There are a lot of different ways to go in OB. You want to be really mindful if you’re getting a Ph.D. in one of these areas,” said Lepisto in regards to pursuing the field at a graduate level. He went on to describe his current research, which studies the human attachment to objects in the context of the workplace. The research has revealed that creative workers do have a tendency to become attached to their work product, and provides some suggestions for reducing this issue within an organization.


Lepisto advised current Psychology students to consider the field of Organizational Behavior as a potential area of study and career path, pointing towards the lucrative job opportunities that are appearing in the job market today.

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What Are You Doing With That Psychology Major?