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Early Careers:
A Bit of Advice on the Side

Dawn L. Riddle
University of South Florida

Lori L. Foster
East Carolina University

Ah, springtime. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and love is in the air. Like most people during this time of year, we find it utterly impossible to suppress those fantasies of the ultimate relationship, the blending of two passions, the fulfillment of a perfect balance with an intimate partner. Hey! This is a PG column, remember? We're dreaming of becoming scientist-practitionersprofessionals who simultaneously satisfy both their academic and their applied love interests. It's a dream shared by many and lived by successful individuals like Dr. Sheldon Zedeck, the industrial-organizational psychologist featured in this issue.

You may have seen this guy's name amidst the literature on performance appraisal systems, employee attitudes, stress, or even decision making. Regardless of the specifics, you've definitely seen his name somewhere along the way. "How did he become so successful?" you probably pondered. And perhaps more curiously, "What is his favorite beverage?" Providing an up close and personal interview with Dr. Zedeck, this column's first segment offers the answers to these questions and more. As you'll see, Dr. Zedeck's distinguished career provides an impressive model to which any new psychologist may wish to aspire.

Did you ever see the movie "When Harry Met Sally?" If so, you'll recall the scene where Billy Crystal (Harry) suggests that "on the side" is big with co-star Meg Ryan (Sally). This scene came to mind while we were researching the current issue's Career Gear topic suggested by Dr. Zedeck. It seems "on the side" is big with I-O psychologists as well. We're not suggesting that I-O types feel especially compelled to ask for mayo in paper cup next to their turkey on rye. Rather, we're referring to their tendency to take up extra work `on the side.' According to the 1998 Income and Employment Survey of the SIOP membership, it is pretty common for academicians and consultants alike to supplement their primary incomes with part-time I-O'ing.1 So, if you've entertained the idea of doing some work on the side, catch the forthcoming Career Gear segment. Find out what the experts have to say about early career moonlighting, and decide if "on the side" might be big with you, too.

1 The survey reported that approximately 38% of doctoral level I-O psychologists earn some form of supplemental income.

The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Sheldon Zedeck: The Professional

Warning: an appropriate account of the career we're about to describe would fill multiple volumes of TIP. Suffice it to say, we had to stick to some highlights, which are provided next.

Educational Background

PhD, Bowling Green State University, 1969

MA, Bowling Green State University, 1967

BS, Brooklyn College, 1965

Academic Work. Dr. Zedeck is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), where he has worked since July of 1969. Over the years, he has been quite involved in university affairs, performing various roles such as Chair of the Department, Chair of the Committee on Educational Policy, Chair of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure, and Director of the Institute of Industrial Relations. Amidst the administrative hubbub, he has managed to maintain several fruitful programs of research. Over the years, he's improved our understanding of prediction and selection models, performance appraisal systems, worker attitudes and motivations, information processing, decision making, stress, and work-family relationships. He has published at least 48 articles, 5 books, and 11 book chapters, and has presented his work at more than 100 conferences and related forums. He has also contributed to the literature via his editorial efforts, serving as member, associate editor, and editor of multiple journals and book series. In addition, he cofounded the well-respected journal, Human Performance.

Consulting Work. Dr. Zedeck's first active post-PhD consulting project was with Milton Blood and Bill Graham in the early 1970s when they developed an entrance level examination for a firefighter position in San Francisco. Since then, he has been involved in lots of consulting projects. His vita, which provides a partial list, catalogs a full single-spaced page of organizations he's worked with, including Allstate, the City of Miami, Georgia Pacific, and the Departments of Justice, State, and Labor.

Sabbatical Work. Dr. Zedeck's sabbaticals have taken him to many places, such as Israel, Sweden, The Netherlands, and even such exotic settings as New Jersey. True to the scientist-practitioner model, he has used his sabbatical opportunities to strengthen both the research and the consulting segments of his career. In Israel, he conducted research on performance appraisals, and along with John Campbell completed a revision of Ghiselli's Measurement Theory for the Behavioral Sciences. A subsequent sabbatical was spent honing applied skills at AT&T, where he involved himself in assessment center and testing work.

SIOP Activities. Dr. Zedeck was introduced to Division 14 / SIOP in 1972, when Bob Guion appointed him to the Education and Training Committee. Since then, he has served as Chair of the Education and Training Committee (1974-75), Member of the Workshop Committee (1975-76; 1977-79), Member of an Ad Hoc Committee (1978-79; 1985-86), Editor of everyone's favorite newsletter, TIP (1979-82), Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee (1982-85), President-Elect (1985-86), President (1986-87), Representative to APA Council of Representatives (1989-92), and Member and Chief Editor of the Frontier Series Editorial Board (1988-93). That's 20 years (excluding one year when he was out of the country on sabbatical) on SIOP's Executive Committee! In recognition of his dedication, Dr. Zedeck was presented with the SIOP Distinguished Service Contribution Award in 1996.

Up next, we focus on the personal side of Dr. Zedeck. Providing lots of behind-the-scenes info, the following segment may enlighten even the most ardent Zedeck-enthusiasts in the business.

Sheldon (or Shall We Call Him Shelly) Zedeck: The Person

True to EC style, we recently interviewed Shelly Zedeck to provide a closer glimpse of the person behind the name. The following pages summarize his responses to our (un)usual questions, which are listed in italics.

Do you have a routine that you like to follow? During the week, Shelly rises at 6:30, showers, gets dressed, has a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal (some oatmeal-raisin-kinda-thing), and heads to work. Once in his office, he brews some coffee, sits down to handle e-mail, then begin his day's work. Around noon he breaks for lunch, having a bite at his desk or venturing out with colleagues. After lunch, Shelly returns to the office and works until 5:30 or 6:00. In the evening, he dines with Marti (his wife) and Tracy (the one child who hasn't yet flown the coop). After dinner, he works until 11:00 p.m. when he watches the evening news and sports while reading the paper.

On Saturdays, he puts in a full day at the office (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), while on Sundays he either works around the house or does some I-O or university-related work. Friday and Saturday evenings he generally doesn't work, but spends time with family or friends (going to the movies or eating outhe especially enjoys spicy food).

What do you do during your time off? Having received our questions prior to the actual interview, Shelly had some time for reflection before answering this one. Even so, he couldn't actually recall having nonworking hours. This is not too surprising, considering his weekly routine and the length of his vita! After a bit more discussion, though, we discovered that Shelly has a true passion for travel. As a matter of fact, he recounted his daughter's observation that in 1 year the family had visited 21 countries!

During his travels, he's enjoyed coffee houses, architecture, museums, cathedrals, monuments, and people watching in countries such as Egypt, China, Turkey, Russia, and Istanbul. He's also journeyed to regions of Poland, where he visited the birthplace of his parents and his mother's childhood home.

What do you do to relieve stress? "Stress is in the eye of the beholder," counters Shelly to this question. He remarks that he generally doesn't get stressed out. (We're trying to convince him to bottle and sell the secret to this!) When he does find himself up against pressing deadlines, or in the midst of difficult personal situations, he takes a task-oriented, head-on approachdirectly attacking the project or problem until it's finished or resolved.

If you were stranded on a desert island and had one piece of reading material, what would it be? "A survival manual," declares a pragmatic Shelly. You may have guessed by now, he's not the type to sit around sipping a fruity beverage from a coconut with a little paper umbrella poking out of the top. Instead, he'd spend his time figuring out how to get off the island, and presumably back to work. Clearly, we needed to rephrase this interview question.

What are your literary preferences? Ah, that's better. Shelly's library contains over 200 I-O psychology-related books! He's not into fiction; he likes his I-O journals and texts. If he were in the mood to do some non-I-O leisure reading, he'd most likely select the biography of some sports legend Mickey Mantle, for instance2.

2 Mantle has been Shelly's hero since his childhood days in Brooklyn. He even wore Mantle's number when he played ball.

Do you have a nickname? If so, how did you get it? For better or worse, Shelly's colleagues and loved ones haven't bestowed any zany nicknames upon him. He did reveal, however, that family members call him Sheldonnever Shelly. He described an incident in a museum in Rome. Standing next to a statue created by Michaelangelo, he was startled to hear someone call out, "Sheldon!" the telltale sign of a relative. Sure enough, it was a cousin who also happened to drop by Rome for a visit!

What is your favorite beverage? A Brooklynite at heart, Shelly remains true to his childhood favoriteEGG CREAMS. The reader who has never experienced an egg cream might be wondering what one could possibly do to an egg, even with cream, to warrant such devotion. Actually, egg creams don't contain eggs. Nor do they contain cream. Go figure. When pressed, Shelly divulged the ingredients for the coveted egg cream: chocolate syrup (professionals like Shelly use only "U-Bet" chocolate syrup), milk, and carbonated water / seltzer... but not just any seltzer. For a true New York egg cream, Shelly uses "Seltzer Sister's" seltzer. This seltzer comes in pressurized refillable bottles and is delivered right to your door, just like in the old days.

Although this recipe sounded reasonably legitimate, we felt compelled to check Shelly's qualifications before passing the ingredients on to our readers. Indeed, Shelly spent the summer before college as a "soda jerk" and short order cook in the Catskill Mountains. As a soda-jerk-turned-I-O-psychologist, Shelly still makes egg creamsat home, not in the Catskills.

Reflecting his interests outside of the USA, Chinese baba chow tea is the second item on Shelly's list of favorites. This tea is brewed from a combination of whole flowers, dates, nuts, berries and tea leaves. Knowing his fondness for the beverage, friends visiting from China often come bearing a batch of baba chow. Best thing is, once you've finished the tea, you can eat the goodies left in the bottom of the cup!

What factor(s) contributed significantly to your success? "Luck," "serendipity," and "being in the right place at the right time," proposes Shelly at first. The beginning of his academic career at UCB came about when Bob Guion, an I-O faculty member at Bowling Green State University, could not accept UCB's one-year visiting position. He suggested that Shelly take his place. Thirty years and one heck of a career later, Shelly's still there!

Similarly, Shelly describes the lucky opportunity to serve on SIOP's Education and Training Committee when Mary Tenopyr was Chair. Dr. Tenopyr's mentoring was an instrumental component of his early career. By teaching Shelly the ropes of organizational consulting, she helped him develop his scientist-practitioner interests.

Okay, we'll concede that luck may play some role in success, but we figure there's gotta be more to it. Modestly, Shelly suggests that if people see him as successful, it is also a function of hard work. He has adopted a "Don't say no" motto. (Boy would Hillary be up in arms if she knew.) When presented with an opportunity for a new project, he applies the following criteria. (a) Does it sound interesting? (b) Can I learn something new? (c) Will this project have an impact?

Other than luck and hard work, Shelly also credits the good fortune of having a very supportive family, many "colleagues turned close friends" (e.g., Cascio, Goldstein, Landy, and others), and mentors like Patricia Cain Smith, Bob Guion, Mary Tenopyr and Ed Ghiselli.

What factor(s) do you think might be critical to the success of others, in general? Aside from luck and hard work, Shelly highlights the importance of being a "trend setter," collaborating, getting involved in SIOP, maintaining healthy sabbatical habits, and balancing work and family life. Here's what Shelly had to say relative to these topics:

  • Set the trendbe bold! Approach issues from alternative perspectives, and work on multiple projects and topics simultaneously.
  • Collaborate teamwork works! Working collaboratively on projects broadens your network of contacts, exposes you to different perspectives, and may increase the visibility of your work.
  • SIOPget involved! Serve on committees and attend conferences. You'll help perpetuate your profession, and you'll increase your visibility and network of contacts as well as friends.
  • Sabbaticalsa good time to run away from home! At home, it's easy to find yourself spending more and more time on campus, dealing with department issues, and basically doing what you do when you're not on sabbatical. Sabbatical projects away from home afford the opportunity to learn new things.
  • Balancebecome a subscriber! Shelly offers this final piece of advice, which helps him maintain a life outside of work. He buys season tickets to the theater, the ballet, and various sporting events. According to Shelly, it's a whole lot easier to take time out and enjoy leisure activities when they are on your calendar and scheduled ahead of time.

If you were to choose a topic for our column's Career Gear segment, what would it be? In response to this final query, Shelly focused on the issues that arise when a new psychologist attempts to combine academic and consulting careers. He's a firm believer in the scientist-practitioner model and feels it warrants considerable attention in a column of this nature. Therefore, the following segment elaborates on whether a new professional should attempt to blend the science and practice of I-O psychology.

Career Gear

The scientist-practitioneryou've heard of him, right? He's the guy who wows everyone from the students in the classroom to the clients in the conference room. She's the gal who cranks out top-tier journal articles while developing innovative solutions to the toughest real world problems in town. But are we supposed to begin our careers this way, or should we wait and establish ourselves as reputable academicians or consultants before turning to the other side? What are the in's and out's of attempting to become a scientist-practitioner during the early days of one's career?

After scratching our heads and pondering these questions for a while, we took a trip down the information superhighway in search of answers. Okay, so maybe "trip down the information superhighway" is a bit grandiose, but it sure beats "we e-mailed a bunch of people and desperately hoped they'd respond to our questions." In any event, we gathered input from a number of knowledgeable academic and practitioner types who were kind enough to share their views on whether new I-O psychologists should attempt to combine academic and consulting work early on.3 This segment offers advantages, disadvantages, and advice believed to be important for the early career psychologist with scientist-practitioner ambitions. We address the topic first from the academician's viewpoint and then from the practitioner's perspective.

3 Special thanks to the following individuals who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to this column: Ed Levine (University of South Florida), Dave Day (Penn State University), George Thornton III (Colorado State University), Karen Paul (3M), Sandra Davis (MDA Consulting Group, Inc.), and Allan H. Church (W. Warner Burke Associates, Inc.). Just for the record, requesting the TIP editor's input does NOT constitute a shameless attempt to butter up the person in charge of our column. (By the waythanks, Allan, for the deadline extension.)

The Academic's Perspective

The advantages of pursuing consulting work on the side. To consult, or not to consultthat is the question that plagues many a new assistant professor. Indeed, there are some notable advantages associated with conducting applied work on the side. For starters, it can actually enhance classroom instruction. "Field work gives one examples to introduce in courses," remarks George Thornton, a Colorado State University Professor.

David Day, an Associate Professor from Penn State University agrees. "It provides some nice `war stories' ... and it helps build credibility with your students."

Edward Levine, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of South Florida, adds that field work may also afford important instructional opportunities outside of the classroom. "Consulting contracts can provide support and solid training experiences for grad students." This advantage clearly benefits the student, the instructor, and the department as well.

Of course, few people earn tenure on great teaching alone. Most departments expect and require new professors to establish a program of research. Must these research aspirations hamper opportunities for part-time consulting gigs? Not necessarily. In fact, under the right circumstances, applied projects can enhance academic pursuits by allowing researchers to identify and focus on "real life experiences and problems in organizations," says Dr. Thornton. "This stimulus can make one's research more relevant and (help one to) avoid investigating trivial matters." Furthermore, when conducted under the right conditions, field work can generate publishable data. And by gosh there's nothing a new assistant professor likes more than publishable data! Finally, "and most importantly for many individuals, field work lets one make a real difference in the lives of people and the success of organizations," says Dr. Thornton.

Thus, part-time consulting can benefit a new assistant professor by enhancing his or her teaching, research, and real-world impact. Anything else? "Oh yeah, the extra money is nice too," adds Dr. Day.

The Disadvantages of Pursuing Consulting Work on the Side

But, waithold it right there! Put down your stack of business cards and set aside that three-piece suit, at least for a few moments. There are some important disadvantages to consider before you go out and sell your I-O wares to the business world. If the new assistant professor is not careful, extracurricular I-O can seriously hinder progress toward tenure and promotion. "My graduate school cohort referred to consulting as the `black hole,'" explains Dr. Day. "It has this way of sucking people in, never to be heard from again. I'm only slightly kidding about that. You need to be careful to protect your time as an assistant professor. Clients are notoriously demanding and needy and before you know it, the consulting project has become full time."

One should also consider the norms of the department when deciding whether to accept a field project. As Dr. Thornton points out, "in some departments of psychology and management, the consultant is looked down upon by colleagues who perceive themselves as more `pure' scientists. Such folks may be members of promotion and tenure committees."

Dr. Levine agrees. "If consulting calls for a junior faculty member to be out of the office very often so students, the chair, and colleagues are asking where Dr. So and So is all the time, tenure may be adversely affected."

Advice for the New Assistant Professor

So, what do you do? For starters, consider waiting a little while before accepting your first consulting contract. "If possible, wait at least until after you've successfully made it through a pre-tenure review," advises Dr. Day. "You first need to build your reputation within your department and college as a strong scholar. If you are struggling with that, then consulting will only make things worse."

When you do decide to take the plunge, attempt to use your consulting venues as research and writing opportunities as well. "Try to leverage the field work into some sources of publishable data," suggests Dr. Thornton. "Get agreements ahead of time about whether you can use the data for research."

Finally, you should clearly express your availability to the potential client. "Estimate how much time every week you can afford to devote to the project, and be straightforward with the client about it," says Dr. Day. "Then, watch out for black holes."

The Consultant's Perspective

The Advantages of Pursuing Academic Work on the Side

Of course, there's still another side to this story. When trying to determine whether to pursue part-time "academic" interests (i.e., teaching, research, and / or publishing), the new consultant often faces considerations that are quite different from those previously described. Let's begin with the advantages associated with part-time academic pursuits. Such work can benefit new consultants by enhancing their credibility with clients. As Karen Paul, a manager of survey research at 3M notes, "being able to speak knowledgeably about a topic based on your own research is invaluable when clients are faced with a sea of competing opinions from a variety of sources." Furthermore, "the discipline of research and professional review keep the skills you spent many (graduate school) years honing sharp."

And if credibility and razor-sharp research skills sound appealing, consider the effect that academic pursuits can have on your consulting skills. Both Sandra Davis (CEO, MDA Consulting Group, Inc.) and Allan Church (Principal, W. Warner Burke Associates, Inc.) feel that academic pursuits can improve a new consultant's applied skills. More specifically, academic side work can help you "stay up to date with the latest research in the field," and "maintain a solid theoretical foundation for the practical, consulting work you do," explains Dr. Davis.

Dr. Church agrees, adding that "although one can certainly become an expert consultant (or is that an oxymoron?) in certain areas through experience, publishing and teaching require that additional levels of content depth be developed and maintained. By engaging in these activities on the side, a relatively new consultant can begin to build his/her knowledge base...there are tons of consultants out there, so any edge helps."

Academic side work not only gives you an edge in the general business world, it can also improve your position in the world of I-O by giving you "a chance to develop a specialized area of expertise," says Dr. Davis.

In addition, it demonstrates your interest in and appreciation for "the other side." As Dr. Church explains, "my appreciation for my academic colleagues grew considerably after my own teaching experience a few summers back... moreover, until you've had a paper torn to shreds by a series of reviewers at one journal only to have it heralded as a great contribution at another, it is almost impossible to relate to anyone else's complaints over the publishing process."

Last but not least, academic side work promotes our field's scientist-practitioner ideal. "To the extent that you can combine academic research with your practice, you are coming closer to the goal of our fieldthat of a scientist-practitioner," says Dr. Paul.

This last one is a benefit that "is more for the field in general than for the individual," Dr. Church admits. But, by pursuing academic side work, "the consultant is giving something back to the larger I-O community and thereby making a contribution to the growth and development of the field itself. Although this may not motivate every consultant out there to teach and write, it is an important role and contribution that needs to be made to help maintain our scientist-practitioner balance."

The Disadvantages of Pursuing Academic Work on the Side

Naturally, academic side work is not without its drawbacks. So, minimize your SPSS program for just another moment or two, and consider the following. Visible research pursuits may shape your organizational role in unintended ways. "Depending on the type of research, inferences might be made about you and your career such as `he/she wouldn't be happy in an operations role,'" notes Dr. Paul. The organization may increasingly view you as a "commodity for data analysis."

Dr. Davis adds that if you're not careful, academic pursuits can slow the development of your consulting skills. Extensive research into one topic may "motivate you to use one tool or approach to the exclusion of having a `bag of approaches' to draw from." Furthermore, "you reinforce speaking the language of academia rather than learning to translate your theoretical understanding into terms that your clients can comprehend."

Finally, part-time academic work can devour the new consultant's time, which is all too scarce. "You focus your spare reading and learning time on theoretical issues, at a time when you need to be learning about the practical aspects of consulting and about the business world in general," explains Dr. Davis.

Drs. Church and Paul agree that time constraints must certainly be considered. As Dr. Paul points out, "To the extent that you invest your (spare) time in research, it is not available for something else." If the new consultant is not careful, extra side work can adversely affect work-life balance.

Advice for the New Consultant

Incidentally, the first piece of advice for the new consultant mirrors the first recommendation extended to the uninitiated academic. Consider waiting just a little while before pursuing part-time academic endeavors. "Wait for a couple of years before you try to combine (academic and consulting work)," suggests Dr. Davis. "If you have just completed your PhD and you have spent little time with applied projects, you could be much more effective in academic pursuits with some practical experience behind you."

Once you're ready to try some academic moonlighting, take a resourceful, opportunistic approach. "Be creative and always look for multiple uses for (your) work," advises Dr. Church. "Try taking that presentation of survey results made to a client and turning it into an applied paper or conference presentation somewhere."

Dr. Paul seconds this motion, noting that a new consultant should try to combine his or her research interests with current work projects. "I learned this trick from Dr. Patricia Cain Smith, as she always looks for ways to `smuggle in' her research interests with her consulting to the benefit of her clients, colleagues, students, and research." But, how do you get the client to agree to the research proposal? According to Dr. Paul, oftentimes all you have to do is ask. "Kevin Nilan and I found working on a project on trust in management for our company that our senior executives were so excited and supportive of the research they encouraged us to do further research and publish the results," she says.

Once you've landed the organizational okay, try collaborating on the text with someone in academics or another company. "The social pressure to get something done you've agreed to work on is an amazing motivator," remarks Dr. Paul, adding "you should try to stick to work for which you have a passion."

Dr. Church agrees. "It is very important to choose projects...that are both accomplishable, inherently interesting, and that will be personally rewarding." Church's final advice? Just do it. "I would strongly encourage consultants to pursue (academic) activities...Such a course will ensure both the evolution of the field of I-O, and the long-term survival of the young professional."


In conclusion, there's a good reason why the scientist-practitioner model is the party line. Close connections between academics and practice clearly benefit the individual, the organization, and the field. Dr. Zedeck is living proof that this ideal can be accomplished. New psychologists, however, must make sure they're equipped to help bridge the gap between academics and practice. They should proceed with great caution, carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of simultaneously pursuing academic and consulting endeavors early in their careers. We hope, the pros and cons outlined in this column will facilitate informed decisions and help new professionals bridge the gap without getting sucked into the proverbial black hole.

A final note. Stay tuned for the next issue of Early Careers, featuring Dr. Nancy Tippins of GTE. After promising we wouldn't use our hard-nosed TIP journalistic tendencies to contact parents or childhood sweethearts, we were able to convince Dr. Tippins to appear in July 2000 edition! This one will surely earn a place atop your summer reading list. `Til next time

To contact the Early Careers editors:

Dawn L. Riddle
Department of Psychology, BEH 339
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33620-8200
e-mail: riddle@luna.cas.usf.edu OR

Lori L. Foster
Department of Psychology
104 Rawl Building
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
e-mail: FosterL@mail.ecu.edu

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