Alumni Profile: Dana Maltby ’18, MS’20

Alumni Profile: Dana Maltby ’18, MS’20
Degree(s): BA Psychology, UW–Madison; MS Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis: Higher Education Student Affairs, UW–Madison
Current Occupation: Data Science Student & Program Coordinator, UW–Madison Department of Statistics

What are some of the benefits of your psychology degree?
I really enjoyed the social and cultural psychology courses. Therefore, my takeaways were: interpersonal communication and understanding; cultural knowledge about people from backgrounds different than my own; examining implicit biases and working to understand how they impact me personally and professionally on a daily basis. I boil it down to understanding more about people and how they think and feel, and using that information to relate to others effectively.

How did you find your way to your current profession?
After considering different career paths (clinical psychology, education, childcare, to name a few), I noticed that the common denominator was helping others. I had a great academic advisor (shoutout to Valerie Johnson!) and I really admired how she was always able to help me make decisions about my academic career without pushing me to make one decision over another. Her guidance had a huge impact on me, and shaped how I thought about my own professional goals. At the time, I also worked as a student employee at the UW-Madison Graduate School, and found the work to be really rewarding.

I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Higher Education-Student Affairs. My degree was basically learning about how to best provide support and services to students. We learned a lot about student development theories, which overlapped with my psych education. During my time as a graduate student, I held several different roles, one being in academic advising. That’s when I fell in love with advising–I could see the impact I was having on students in real-time, and it made me feel like I found my purpose. I was lucky enough to land my current role in student advising after a month after graduation and have been loving it ever since!

What advice would you give to students graduating with a psychology degree?
The field of psychology is so broad, it can seem really daunting to narrow down how you want to use your degree after graduation. My best advice is first: major does NOT always equal career. I know that some students can feel pressure to “use their degree” after college, but as a psych major, you use the skills and knowledge you learn in class every day just relating to people!

Second, research different careers that seem interesting, and reach out to current people in that field/job to learn more about their roles. Have a list of questions that you’re curious about to get the scoop on the ins-and-outs of their daily work. Knowing more about a typical day in the life in higher education/student affairs really helped me decide that I wanted to work on a college campus. It can seem scary at first, but people really do love talking about themselves and helping college students learn more about industries and jobs.