When faced with the choice of pursuing a career in business or psychology; Lorel Grande went with her heart and decided to study the mind.
Eight years later, she has a B.A. in psychology from Dominican University of California (DU), hundreds of counseling hours logged and is on track to finish her Master of Science in counseling psychology, with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, in December 2014. During this time, she also worked in the Athletics Department at DU for over five years, and is currently a head coach with the Marin Juniors Volleyball Club.
It’s been a long road, but when she decided to pursue psychology, Lorel knew it was a career she would love.
“I love having meaningful conversations with people and understanding why people do what they do. Psychology enables me to have those meaningful conversations and offer guidance to people who are searching for it.”
After almost a decade of undergraduate and graduate work, Lorel shared that she made the decision to get a master’s right after her bachelor’s degree so she wouldn’t lose momentum. And apparently getting a master’s degree in psychology is essential.
“In psychology, you basically have to gain a higher degree to continue to work in the field, especially as a therapist…Patients also want to know that the individual who is helping them has the education and competence to work with them and the current issues they are facing.”
Looking back over the years, Lorel reflected on some of the challenges she faced along the way to a higher degree.
“Getting through the task of juggling all of life’s challenges and my co-workers, while completing a very mentally and emotionally heavy school load feels like nothing short of a miracle. I had to plan ahead in all things and make extra efforts to communicate with all parties involved. I also had to prioritize, decide which piece of the puzzle was more worth my time; school work, paid work, family, friends or myself. What I learned from prioritizing is that you can never under value the importance of taking care of yourself. Feeling like you are taking care of and valuing yourself enables you to participate more fully in all other aspects of your life.”
Conversely, Lorel shared that the most rewarding aspect of her work was witnessing a client’s personal progress.
“Most of the time being a therapist can feel like a thankless job. You are entering into very peculiar and personal relationships with people, and often will never know how you have helped them make changes for the better. However, it is moments when you see a client’s personal progress or where they actually verbalize what has changed and how you have helped them to make that change that make all those other times worth while.”
After receiving her master’s, Lorel is excited for life after school and applying her experience in a professional setting.
“My current goal is to find a paid position in my field. I am also very much looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family without having to think of what homework is due. At some point I may turn to the Human Resources arena of the corporate world based on my developing area of expertise in happiness within the workplace and interpersonal communication and development. However, until that time arises to pursue my license I have to stay in the clinical world.”
Some other passions she looks forward to devoting more time to include coaching and playing volleyball, cooking delicious meals with friends and family, and reading more good books.
As Lorel prepares to end her master’s work, she offered some advice for Rising Pros considering a higher degree and career in psychology.
“A master’s degree in counseling psychology is a noble career path. Should you choose to pursue such a degree it will serve you no matter what career path you eventually find yourself on, and in your daily life. To understand people and what motivates them to make their choices will always give you a competitive edge in the job market and will help you when managing teams.”
Connect with Lorel on LinkedIn or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about pursuing a master’s in psychology or if you’re hiring.