Erin Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology,
University of Texas at Austin
1. What is your current occupation?
I am currently an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Program in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin..
2. What do you do? / Describe your role.
My job involves conducting research, mentoring and supervising students, and teaching courses. My research examines family and sociocultural influences on children’s coping and stress adaptation, with a primary focus on families faced with a child’s chronic medical illness. This involves collaborating with hospitals, clinics, schools, and community organizations that serve youth and families. I also mentor students in the School Psychology program at UT Austin who have an interest in pediatric and child clinical psychology research. In addition to my involvement with research, I teach courses and provide clinical supervision to students. I am currently teaching a graduate class in social/emotional assessment of children and adolescents.
3. How did you learn about your job?
The position was advertised online through the APA PsycCareers website. Last year, when I was looking for jobs, I searched through this and the APS Employment Network website to find open faculty positions that were a good match with my work and interests.
4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?
I took a pretty traditional path to get to my current position. I got involved in behavioral health research the summer after my first year in college, and stayed with that lab throughout my undergraduate education. By my senior year of college, academic research had become something I could see myself doing as a career. From there, it was graduate school, internship, a research-focused postdoc, and now my current job. Although there are always challenges along the way, one of the positive aspects of pursuing an academic career is that the steps needed to reach your goals are a bit more clear-cut than other career paths, and graduate school is a natural way to get exposure to a career in that setting.
5. Are you a member of Div53? If so, how has being a member of Div53 been helpful to you?
I recently became a member. As a teacher and clinician, I really appreciate the online training resources and being able to refer students and families to a central site for resources.
6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?
I love having a job that gives me the opportunity to think creatively and make connections (between seemingly disparate ideas, and between theory, research, and practice) on a daily basis. One of my favorite parts of this is being pushed to think critically about my research by students who bring their own knowledge and perspectives to our work.
7. What is a tough aspect of your job? How have you handled it?
I started my job last fall, so the most challenging part right now is adjusting to the responsibilities involved in being a faculty member compared to a postdoc. The biggest addition has been incorporating teaching into my professional career while maintaining an active research program. I just try to handle it by being patient with myself as I learn these new skills.
8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?
I wish I realized earlier on that failure is a natural and inevitable part of research and the career development process. I think sometimes students misinterpret failure as reflective of their ability, but in reality it happens to everyone! Once I realized this I was able to focus and not let failure detract from my goals.
9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?
My advice to students would be to seek out mentors who are doing what you want to do and learn/observe how they manage their careers. Don’t be afraid to reach out to senior researchers in the field – many of them will actually respond and do what they can to support you. I’m continually impressed (and inspired) by the value our field places on mentoring.
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