Psychological science plays a role in the success of a workplace. It helps organizations understand what motivates employees and how to promote healthy behaviours—and it can design better workspaces and technologies.
Marcus Chung (BA, 2021) is applying the knowledge and curiosity he gained as a psychology undergraduate student to his graduate studies at University College London. Marcus is studying Industrial-Organizational (IO) Psychology with the ultimate goal of using his IO insights to make an impact in the IO field and in organizations.
Marcus also channeled his passion for IO into a website he developed, the Psymplified Journal. Pronounced ‘simplified’, the Psymplified Journal is an online platform that summarizes the latest IO research for working professionals and organizations to better understand how psychology can help their workplace. Topics covered include mindfulness in the workplace, reinforcing an innovative culture, and building effective teams.
Marcus joins us for a Q&A where he reflects on his time as a student, shares the value of a psychology degree, and offers advice for organizations.
Why did you choose to study psychology at UBC?
Initially, I chose to study psychology at UBC because of its ranking. UBC’s psychology department ranks 13th in the world and 1st in Canada, so the program speaks for itself. Although my high-school psych teacher also mentioned UBC’s program to me and urged me to apply when I was looking into universities. After looking at UBC’s campus and also I was lucky enough to have friends who have visited the school, it was a no-brainer to want to apply.
From the psychology department page, you can quickly see why the department ranks so high amongst other schools, and it’s the amount of great research that comes out of UBC – ranging from visual perception to forecasting problem gamblers. As a high-schooler what got me into psychology was learning about several research studies, so seeing that the department producing research in a range of different sub-fields made the program stand out even more. If any prospective students are excited about psychology research and want to meet and work with prominent professors who are veterans in their field, UBC psychology will be a great place to be.
“I owe a lot to the closest friends I have met at UBC because they have taught me to chase goals that may seem unreachable; with their unwavering support for my goals, I’ve built a sign of everlasting courage to pursue anything that interests me.”
When you were a student, was there anything or anyone who inspired you?
I have been very fortunate with the people I’ve met along the way at UBC. A shortlist of individuals who have inspired me ranges from friends to TA’s to graduate students to professors and even to the maintenance man who works in the psychology building. It was the conversations I’ve had with them that allowed me to search for my passion. I owe a lot to the closest friends I have met at UBC because they have taught me to chase goals that may seem unreachable; with their unwavering support for my goals, I’ve built a sign of everlasting courage to pursue anything that interests me.
Professors and graduate students were huge drivers for my growth as well. I still remember a time when I was sitting in my TA’s office, having no clue what to do with my life because I had just failed one midterm paper that was worth 14%. The more I revisited the TA’s office and listened to the research projects my TA was embarking himself on, gave me the motivation to want to get myself into research as well. Soon after, my research journey began and led me to the many opportunities I was able to have during my undergraduate experience. Within those experiences, the small conversations which I had with PhD students and the principal investigator were the ones that mattered most and were the ones that were most impactful for me. I soon realized that even if your path does not lie within the confines of becoming a researcher, your labmates will do their best to help you pursue whichever goal you pick.
“What psychology brings to business is the innate humanness of organizations; being distinctly human allows organizations to consistently reinvent themselves on the back of continual disruptions.”
In your experience, how does the value of a psychology degree translate into the real world?
Having a psychology degree allows me to understand my position to others and the importance of cross diverse relationships. You start embracing every moment you have with your peers and also get to analyze them which is sort of fun too. I’d say your people skills will enhance, just because you’ll find yourself putting concepts together in your head when perceiving some type of behaviour and reacting to it the right way. In addition, intellectual curiosity is a muscle that will be trained as a psychology major; since we do so much explorative work, we end up reading multiple research articles in a day and find out even more about a certain topic or a certain area of interest. You will truly become a proactive learner and spend time in understanding the smallest behaviours we may see in the world.
Organizations traditionally were more focused on a top-down strategic approach where certain interventions or strategies are implemented based on profitability and efficiency. What psychology brings to business is the innate humanness of organizations; being distinctly human allows organizations to consistently reinvent themselves on the back of continual disruptions. For an organization to shift from a surviving mindset to one that is always prepared in an ever-changing world, it needs to approach every issue from its employees. To list a few areas where psychology can help: The COVID-19 pandemic brought employee health and well-being to its fore for many organizations, understanding that they weren’t prioritizing health enough and had to suffer consequences due to that. The importance of creative and effective teams, driven by psychological concepts such as belonging cues, candor, psychological safety. Lastly, in a working generation dominated by millennials and genZs, employees are searching for purpose and passion rather than external rewards – utilizing positive psychology to instigate meaning in work and provide opportunities for everlasting growth is what companies should focus on. I could go on forever about this, but these are a few pressing ones.
How has UBC shaped your career?
UBC gave me a gateway to explore many of my interests; coming into university I had no clue what I wanted to do or what I wanted to major in. I have to owe it to all the professors, TA’s, and labs that gave me direction and provided unwavering support for my ambitions. The support and knowledge I’ve gained throughout my undergraduate experience and the many conversations I’ve had with UBC staff gave me the confidence to pursue a future in Organizational Psychology.
Do you have any advice for current undergraduate students?
During my undergraduate years, I’m sure that the biggest thing I got from this experience was making meaningful connections with professors and graduate students. They have a lot to share and knowledge they want to pass on. So… take advantage of office hours but even more, talk about life goals, ambitions, lessons, etc. Conversations don’t have to be limited to school. You won’t regret it.