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Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Drake Van Egdom

Member Spotlight: Drake Van Egdom

PhD Candidate, University of Houston

Interest area(s)
My research focuses on work-family, well-being, and careers. In particular, I am interested in work–family policies and parenthood, along with incorporating gender and career decisions into these topics.

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology?
Going into my undergraduate education, I pursued engineering, but I quickly learned I was not passionate about the subject. I could get the grades, but I was not energized. I started to think about my own experiences growing up. I would always ask my parents about their workday, and I heard about untrained co-workers, unaware bosses, and worries about layoffs. These experiences prompted me to explore different careers related to work and psychology, and I found industrial-organizational psychology. As far as my interest in work–family, my parents did not follow the traditional gender roles and my mom struggled with work–family balance. I am also married to a marriage-family therapist that had a stay-at-home father. Both of these influenced my work in understanding and supporting employees’ work–family decisions.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work?
Although we do not know what the future of work will be, I-O psychology will be needed until nobody is working. The context may differ with new technologies and work arrangements, along with social and environmental changes that will force I-O psychology to adapt to ensure our continued relevance for employees, organizations, and society.

Which of the Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2020 do you most strongly relate to and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
I would say both workforce health and well-being, and diversity, inclusion, and equity. From my perspective, the two are intertwined. Policies and practices focused on health and well-being will not be effective if they do not address diversity, inclusion, and equity concerns. An organization may enact a policy, but availability is not the same as use. Organizations employing higher wage employees may create policies to attract talent, but their work environment may discourage employees from using those policies or stigmatize those that do use those policies. Those same policies may not even be available to lower wage employees from the same organization. The existence of a policy does not inherently improve employee health and well-being, and can perpetuate inequity.

I-O psychology practitioners can not only encourage organizations to focus on health and well-being, but to ensure that the work environment will support the use of those policies. Educators can incorporate diversity, inclusion, and equity into discussions on employee health and well-being and organizational policies. Students can integrate both of these topics into their own interests to ask themselves: Who benefits from what I am doing? What barriers exist to ensuring what I do will benefit them?

How long have you been a SIOP member?
3 1/2 years

What roles have you had within SIOP?
I have been on two SIOP committees. I was a student member of the Government Relations Advocacy Team (GREAT) committee for a year. In my role, I helped identify different pressing topics in the healthcare sector that I-O psychologists were equipped to answer, so that the GREAT committee could lobby for including I-O psychologists in governmental funding for these issues.

I am entering my third year of being a part of the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) committee, specifically the Family Care subcommittee. My first two years were as a student member and volunteer, and I have recently accepted the position as lead of this subcommittee. The Family Care subcommittee worked hard the last 2 years to identify the caregiving needs of SIOP members for the SIOP conferences and propose a potential solution. With the support of the SIOP executive committee, WIN created the Family Care Grant for the 2021 SIOP Annual Conference and 2022 SIOP Annual Conference. Twenty grants ($500 each) will be available to support SIOP members that either provide care to another person who requires care (e.g., children, elders, persons with disabilities) or a person who requires caregiving support at the conference (e.g., members with disabilities), and faces some financial difficulty attending the conference due to financial caregiving needs with a preference for graduate students and early career members.

What is one of your favorite SIOP Annual Conference memories/highlights?
I compare the SIOP conference to a wedding. Throughout my short career, I have met I-O psychologists during my graduate school interview weekends, over Twitter, at conferences, and other events. Like a wedding, SIOP conferences allow me to see everyone from different parts of my life come together and interact. SIOP conferences are truly special for this reason. 

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners?
Find a career that interests you and allows you to find fulfillment outside of work. An I-O psychology degree grants you the skills and flexibility to pursue a career that fits you.

In all aspects of work and life, do not be afraid to think beyond what has been previously done.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself.
I absolutely adore my cat. I have also been to the Houston Zoo over 100 times during graduate school.

Is there anything you would like to add?
If eligible, please apply for the Family Care Grant for the 2021 SIOP and 2022 SIOP annual conferences. If not, please encourage those eligible to apply.

I am active on Twitter, so please follow me @DrakeVanEgdom.

I will be on the job market next year, so please keep me in mind for any openings.

If you would like to be considered for a Member Spotlight, or if you would like to recommend a SIOP member for a Spotlight, please email astark@siop.org.

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