Whoa, time flies! The SPSP Early Career Committee has been a thing for around a year and a half now. Like past chairs Sarah Gaither and Jim A. C. Everett said in our first newsletter entry in November 2019, we still think we’re the best thing since sliced bread. Perhaps maybe we have upgraded to millennial avocado toast? In any case, we are super excited to introduce the new composition of the committee, tell you what we have been up to, and update you on our plans for this coming year.
First, roster changes! The Early Career Committee has new leadership and new membership this year. The committee is now co-chaired by Kat Duggan (North Dakota State University) and Brian Eiler (Davidson College) for the 2021-2022 term. Sarah Huff (University of Denver) and Franki Kung (Purdue University) remain active members, and Gili Freedman (St. Mary’s College of Maryland) and Veronica Lamarche (University of Essex) are new members. Sarah Gaither (Duke University) and Jim A. C. Everett (University of Kent) are now past co-chairs; we are so grateful for their service and expertise. We appreciate their efforts so much that we are holding on to them! They will continue to be involved in the committee (within reason, while promoting life-work balance) over the next year.
Why are we here? Early Career members (those who are post-PhD at the start of their careers) are a significant part (10%! But this number will grow with our new changes…) of SPSP’s membership. We also have unique needs—many of us are in job transitions, dealing with career instability, squeezed financially, and we are all coping with unique challenges during the pandemic. SPSP recognizes these challenges and sees them as an opportunity to support Early Career Social/Personality Psychologists. This committee is a crucial step towards making sure Early Career members have a seat at the table when developing SPSP initiatives and planning for our society’s future.
What have we accomplished already? Wow, a whole lot in the past year and a half! In 2019, past (and first!) committee co-chairs Sarah Gaither and Jim A. C. Everett laid out some priorities based on surveys of SPSP members, conference feedback, candid and informal conversations, and our committee’s discussions of what felt both reasonable and impactful. Sarah and Jim wrote a stellar summary here.
To briefly summarize:
- We expanded the definition of Early Career membership from three years post-PhD to six years post-PhD (beginning 2022), which helps make being an early career scientist more financially sustainable.
- We revamped our society’s awards for early career scientists. Our hope is that these changes will allow more people to apply and to compete for these awards, and will increase the inclusivity and diversity of the work and scholars that are recognized.
- We increased early career-specific SPSP programming, including (1) a handy-dandy “Early Career tag” in our conference app that allows attendees to sort by, view, and save early career-specific sessions and posters at our annual meeting; (2) a super fun “Guess Who” and other informal conference sessions; (3) several Free-Form Fridays sessions over the past year; (4) we now run two virtual, two-hour writing groups each week; and (5) we have both continued and sponsored new early career conference programming, including professional development and mentoring sessions.
What are our plans moving forward? We hope to keep our momentum going and continue to work on initiatives relevant to our unique needs and career stage. Considering we are in the midst of a global pandemic and virtual Zoom meeting life, this is a challenge that we hope to meet while maintaining and promoting life-work balance among members of our committee and other early career members more broadly.
- All that stuff you just read up there? We hope to keep doing it.
- We plan to monitor the impact of SPSP Early Career Initiatives. We are all scientists and appreciate the need for data to make informed decisions. As such, we plan to return to the original drawing board (i.e., pre-SPSP Early Career Committee member surveys) and the new drawing board (i.e., recent and/or planned early career member surveys) to see how early career members are faring during the pandemic. We will also look at data on early career membership, use of SPSP initiatives, and our awards pre- and post- changes mentioned above to see what is working well and what might need to be changed or updated. We also hope to solicit feedback on the impact of and experiences with our initiatives over the past year. You can get the ball rolling by providing us with informal feedback here.
- One of our long term goals is to increase mentorship and provide other tangible resources for Early Career members. This year we hope to begin laying the foundations for these resources in a way that allows them to continue (and grow) in the future. We are considering (for example), a database of syllabi/grant materials accessible only to early career members, developing a mentorship network for EC members to receive mentorship, Hackathons, workshops, and financial support. If you have ideas for materials or resources that would be beneficial for you, we are all ears (or eyes, considering we will probably be reading your message via email). Send us your ideas here!
What else do you need? How can we help? We are open to suggestions and welcome feedback. Any of us would be happy to chat with you on Twitter, via email, or via phone/Zoom (in our pandemic life you may not want to sign yourself up for another e-meeting, but hey, we’re available!). Reach out to us. We’re here to listen, and to try to use the tools at our disposal (thanks, SPSP!) to help. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll even be able to meet in-person and hear from you at our annual meeting in 2022.