Operant Innovations 012 | Landing a Job Outside of Clinical Behavior Analysis | Reggie Seecharan
We often see the question, "What can you do with a behavior analysis degree outside of clinical work?" Well, the short answer is... A LOT! Join Reggie Seecharan, a recent graduate of Florida Institute of Technology, as he speaks about landing an internship at NASA and then a job at Amazon.
If you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shauna Costello (00:02):
You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies. Oftentimes when I'm on social media, scouring through the different groups that I'm a part of. I often see questions along the lines of what can you do with a behavior analysis degree outside of clinical work? Well, I have one of my previous students here to tell you.
Reginald Tran (00:28):
Hi everyone. I hope you're staying safe and healthy. My name is Reginald T Tran. I'm a master's student and behavior analyst at the Florida Institute of technology. Today. I'd like to talk to you about how I got a job at Amazon, which starts in July and an internship at NASA, which is where I currently am. Hopefully you'll find some of the tips to be useful on your journey. I like to start with a little bit about me. I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago and my family immigrated here in the year 2000 when I was eight years old, learning how to adapt and assimilate into a new culture, became a big part of my early life. Around age 10. I learned that I was an illegal immigrant and when I was 15, I realized that I couldn't get a driver's permit or job, like my friends.
Reginald Tran (01:23):
I gave myself the task of changing my situation. When I was 16, I gathered all of my personal documents and taught myself as much as I could about the immigration process with the help of my family. I eventually took action by meeting with a lawyer which resulted in getting my employment authorization card when I was 20 years old. Some of you may be listening, because you want to know what to do to land a job at a fortune 100 company, I'll summarize it for you in two steps, craft your resume well enough to get an interview and prepare as much as you can for that interview. The secret is in the preparation, you'll likely be competing for a position against students coming from some of the top universities in the country. Understanding that certainly put the importance of preparation into perspective. For me, let's say you're like me and you get an email on October 11th that you have an interview scheduled for October 14th.
Reginald Tran (02:26):
How do you prepare? Well, it's important for you to know that behavioral based interviewing is commonplace for organizations like Amazon. During the interview, they may ask about a time when you took a risk, made a mistake or failed. How did you respond and how did you grow from the experience? The star format is a structured way of responding to behavioral based interview questions. The star format involves discussing the specific situation, task action and result of what you're describing. As an example. The story about me I shared earlier was given in the star format. A couple of things I did to prepare for my interview include becoming familiar with Amazon's 14 leadership principles and choosing to focus on a few true stories that could highlight those principles, but were also flexible enough to be used to answer a variety of questions. I also prepared a series of questions that I asked them.
Reginald Tran (03:29):
Some of those questions include what are two to three things that would define extraordinary success in my role, what are a couple of the biggest challenges you expect me to face? And my final question was typically one that would prompt a smile. As an outsider looking in, what facial expression would I see on a pathways operations manager after a long workday. So what traits might big organizations be looking for? A few traits that you can highlight are your willingness to collaborate, your curiosity, your willingness to take calculated risk, your bias for action and your ability to learn from your failures, embrace change, and deliver quality results. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope you find it helpful in framing what they may be looking for.
Reginald Tran (04:31):
Before I ever got invited to an interview, Amazon sent me a job skills assessment and personality inventory to assess if I had these very traits. So what if you've cultivated the traits and you know how to prepare for the interview? How do you even craft a resume to get noticed? Well, you start with the end in mind, you reverse engineer, the position you want at the organization you like. I started by looking at 11 or so companies I wanted to work at. From there, I moved to the jobs that most aligned with what I wanted to do. Once I had that nailed down, I began looking at the common job requirements and certifications across the positions. I spent a little over a year crafting my resume in gaining experiences, along with certifications that matched what the organizations were looking for. A tip here is to get your resume reviewed by as many people as you can from different backgrounds and always keep in mind who your target audience is.
Reginald Tran (05:41):
Many of the listeners on this podcast are probably behavior analysts. I was a behavior analyst years before I ever dreamed of interviewing at Amazon. I positioned my background in behavior analysis by toning down the behavior analytic jargon, referring to behavior analysis as behavioral science and highlighting aspects of behavior analysis, such as data based decision making that can help you to solve big problems that organizations care about such as turnover and employee engagement and know here is that while making database decisions, it's important to remain flexible enough to make decisions based on the voice of your stakeholders.
Reginald Tran (06:26):
Once I got my offer letter from Amazon, I updated my resume and began the search for an internship. I went through the same reverse engineering process, and I was lucky enough to end up at NASA Langley research center, doing organizational development work during my final semester of grad school. I'm going to transition a bit now to a few personal reflections that I believe helped me to get to where I am. A pivot point for me was understanding that collaboration is a valuable skill to cultivate and sometimes being too competitive can slow you down. When you're too competitive, you have a goal in mind and you're trying your best to achieve that goal, but this can cause you to be narrow-minded. Collaboration helps you to think critically about win-win situations, consider ways to turn someone else's immediate win into a win win situation for the both of you in the long term.
Reginald Tran (07:30):
Another thing I try to always do is keep the large picture in mind. I'm not much of a rock climber, but I have a vision in my head that I'm in the middle of climbing a wall, and I know where the goal is, but I don't know where to put my hand or foot next. The flexibility is what helps me to take advantage of opportunities on the way to the end goal. For me, the end goal has been to be financially independent and retired early. Maybe someday after I'm retired, I'll go back to school for a degree in immigration law. So I can give back to immigrant families in need of services. I want to briefly touch on mentorship. I've had the privilege of having phenomenal mentors throughout the years that have taught me many important lessons, which have stayed with me till this day.
Reginald Tran (08:21):
Mentors don't have to formally mentor you. Many of my most influential mentors have skills that I wanted to learn. And they mentored me by giving me opportunities to observe and model their behavior. It's through this process that I have gained many of the skills I have today. They may not know how much they've contributed to my learning, and we may not have ever formalized a mentor mentee relationship, but I certainly consider them my mentors. On the path to success, you'll inevitably be met with roadblocks and setbacks. A common roadblock is someone telling you that you're not allowed to do something. As long as what you'd like to do is legal and ethical, this can be an opportunity to collaborate. With a bit of creativity, you may be able to create a win-win situation and set an example for future people who encounter that roadblock. As far as setbacks, this has usually been in the form of teachable moments for me, good people, sometimes face tough decisions and make the wrong choices.
Reginald Tran (09:36):
I've recently written down and given thought to a set of values that I intend on upholding in hopes that it will help me to make the right choice when I'm faced with a tough decision. Keep in mind that people remember your actions and tying your behavior to those values is an important part of the process. A mentor of mine shared that he keeps a spreadsheet of what he did well with outcomes, mistakes, with outcomes, patterns in those successes and mistakes and lessons learned. This he said can act as a self-diagnostic tool. With that, I'd like to thank you for listening all the way to the end. In closing, I leave you with a quote from Mr. Graham, my high school psychology teacher "above all life must be fun".
Shauna Costello (10:34):
Thank you for listening to operant innovations. And as always, if you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.