I recently had a chance to speak with Sherif al-Qallawi, a Fulbright Scholarship recipient and Ph.D. candidate in I-O at Florida Tech. In the last ten years, Sherif has been a recruiter, an HR Generalist, a startup co-founder, and even worked in HR for the United Nations. As I listened to his story, it occured to me that he had been searching for something. When I asked him about this, here's what he had to say:
"If I had known about I-O psychology as an undergraduate, I would have started studying it back then. I knew I was interested in developing employees and organizations—I just wasn't sure about the best way to go about that. I-O psychology provides a clear answer to that question. The problem is that most of us don't know about it."
"This is where most of the mismatch happens," he continued. "We don't really know that there are such options out there. If we did, we might like them more than the options we know about now."
When I asked Sherif what attracted him to I-O psychology, he emphasized the importance of helping people find the right jobs to reach their full potential. The same argument applies to the field of I-O psychology itself.
"I think we really have a big responsibility of promoting our field. We might be losing lots of potential students who might just not know about the field. They think they found their dream career in HR or management, but if we tell them about I-O psychology, maybe they love it more. And from there, we can attract talented candidates into our field and build a much more capable workforce that can help organizations and other professionals be better versions of themselves."
There are many good reasons to include I-O psychology in introductory psychology textbooks and to ensure our field is addressed in introductory psychology courses. One of the most important, however, is reaching young people who might consider a career in I-O psychology if they know about it.
I'm certain that Sherif's real-world experience over the past ten years will prove invaluable to him as an I-O psychologist, but I can't help but wonder how his life would have been different if he had at least heard about I-O psychology in his introductory psychology class. A chapter in a textbook or a guest lecture really does have the potential to change lives.
If you're a textbook author or an instructor interested in including I-O psych in your book or course, visit www.teachiopsychology.com for SIOP's Educators' Resource Page.
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