A Transformative Career Journey (Part 2)

In 2013, we featured a blog story on Emma, a MS Psychology alumna who is pursuing a PhD in Psychology- Health Psychology program at Walden.  We recently reconnected with Emma and learned that she completed her CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) certification through Emory University’s Emory-Tibet Partnership and taught CBCT® to individuals in recovery, schoolteachers, parents of autistic children, and HIV+ clients participating in research studies. We asked Emma to share how she gained teaching skills and a deeper understanding of health and wellness issues through this transformative experience.

Emma B

Emma Brooks

Dina Bergren:  What is CBCT®?

Emma: CBCT® is a secular training method that uses several steps to cultivate compassion and is based on techniques from the Indo-Tibetan tradition. CBCT® was developed at Emory University by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD using meditative practices from the Lojong tradition.  According to scientific research, compassion can be developed as well as heightened.

Dina Bergren: How did you learn about Emory’s Tibetan Partnership program?

Emma: I learned about the Emory-Tibet Partnership program while completing a residency program in marriage and family therapy.  I expressed my interest in contemplative practices and Tibetan traditions to one of the on-staff licensed therapists.  She informed me about the work in this area taking place at Emory University.  I researched the program and registered for an 8-week training course in CBCT®.

Dina Bergren: What prior knowledge/experience helped you qualify for this opportunity?

Emma: My resume reflected my master’s thesis, The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Well-Being and Depression, and internship at Moore House School of Medicine where I worked on a field research study using Transcendental Meditation. I obtained this internship opportunity through networking while I was working on my master’s degree at Walden University. Also, I included my yoga teacher training experience, marriage and family therapy residence experience at the Link Counseling Center, and my introductory 8-week CBCT® course.  In addition, I listed my pursuit of a doctoral degree in Health Psychology and experience as a student researcher on a published research project at Walden University.

Dina Bergren: What instructional skills did you gain and how did you impact your clients? 

Emma: Well, I quickly learned that the presentation skills I used in the business world were different from skills in the teaching environment. My presentation skills shifted from PowerPoint discussions to experiential and lecture style presentations. I learned how to create lesson plans, improvise, find the right balance of instruction when co-teaching, and recognize the delicate dance between teaching and learning where the teacher is also the student.

As a CBCT® instructor, I enhanced my active listening skills as well as developed my ability to take pedagogy and apply it to everyday life situations. I learned that classroom management is a skill that is forever evolving because no two classes are exactly alike. It was important for me to understand my audience’s learning styles and identify what worked and didn’t work in the first session, while also being open to an organic process to emerge. Hence, I tapped into the intuitive aspects of the teaching process especially when lesson plans didn’t go as planned.

Dina Bergren:  What research studies did you conduct related to CBCT®?

Emma: I taught on two separate research studies which applied CBCT® to the following populations: parents of autistic children and HIV+ individuals. The studies reinforced what I learned during my coursework and experience as a student researcher at Walden University. As an instructor and educator, the experience allowed me to see the research process from a new perspective as I was playing one role within the research process protocol.  This experience felt different from my student research experience as the interviewer. Also, I was required to take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training for the research study conducted by the Marcus Institute, which was very informative and helpful as I continued my dissertation research as the principal investigator.

Dina Bergren:  How did your work at the Emory-Tibet partnership influence your career journey?

Emma: This experience contributed to my dissertation progress and enhanced my teaching skills. I met many wonderful people, scholars, and physicians by becoming a part of the CBCT® community.  The CBCT® community provided me with an extended web of connections and expanded my awareness in unexplainable ways, and for this I am grateful.  I have no doubt that my future will be bright!

Written by Walden Doctoral Student, Emma Brooks
Emma B

Edited by Associate Director of Career Services, Dina BergrenDina


Adventure Starts Where the Plans End!

Adventure quote

I just celebrated my 10th anniversary at the best job of my career. I love my work team, colleagues, mission, and my doctoral business degree program at Walden University. OK, maybe Finance class – not so much. 🙂

In February, I had the opportunity to leave cold and wintry Minnesota for two weeks to work virtually in Florida. As a transplant from a moderate climate with four calendar-based seasons, I have hibernated like a bear during Minnesota’s winters. Minnesota is a gorgeous and very under-rated place. I live across from a beautiful lake in a park-like setting. Yet I’ve struggled with winter’s isolation and cabin fever each year. Additionally, native Minnesotans are lucky to have very solid, close social circles of family and friends, so it can be challenging for transplants to grow strong social ties. I started a Meetup called “Twin Cities Icebreakers” for small group gatherings for folks to get to know each other on a regular basis. The group filled to capacity very quickly.

After hitting my “tenth anniversary in the tundra,” I visited a long-time friend in Naples, Florida. I am fortunate to be able to work virtually, so I wanted to explore what it might be like to live there. Serendipity struck – there was an open house for a bright, pretty condo for sale in the building next door to my friend’s place. When I walked up the stairs of that condo, I fell in love. Yes, you’re thinking – winter in Florida – what’s not to love? There was so much more to it than just that. I loved the vision of living next door to my longtime friend Chris, someone I had known 25 years whom I could pal around with spur of the moment. It felt like winning the social wellness lottery!

So I’m moving to Naples in May! I’m thrilled to keep my role as Career Services Senior Director at Walden and finish my DBA degree. On my spare time, I’ll be building a professional and social network from scratch – I’m already scouting out LinkedIn groups and Meetup groups.

Sometimes quick decisions based on intuition and the heart are the best ones! To quote my hero Helen Keller, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing!”

Originally posted on LinkedIn, March 16, 2017

Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services and DBA Student


Posted in Uncategorized

Career Shift from K-12 Education to Serving Clients with Severe Mental Illness



Kristie is a Walden MS Psychology and PhD in Psychology – Clinical Psychology alumna who started her professional career as a science teacher in the public schools.   How did her journey lead to a post-doctoral psychologist position at a county mental health clinic?  As a K-12 educator, Kristie taught many students, including developmentally and emotionally challenged children in special education.  She cultivated a passion for helping children with Asperger’s, Turner Syndrome, and other developmental disorders learn and thrive in the classroom.  This experience prompted her to enroll in the MS Psychology program at Walden and take steps to transition into a clinical psychology career.

Kristie’s MS Psychology degree provided her the fundamental knowledge of psychological theory which led to the PhD in Psychology- Clinical Psychology program.  To meet her field experience requirements, Kristie sought a practicum at a medical treatment center where she worked under supervision with clients in treatment for opiate dependence.  Kristie shared that she was nervous about working with this challenging population at first; however, after gaining confidence in her abilities and skills in assessment, motivational interviewing, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, she found the experience to be tremendously rewarding. Seeing clients with addiction heal and overcome personal challenges inspired Kristie to remain at the treatment center after her practicum ended.  She later advanced into a Supervising Counselor role and completed her doctoral internship at the same facility.

In 2016, Kristie earned her PhD in Psychology and advanced into a post-doctoral position at a county hospital where she is serving outpatient clients with severe mental illness including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and clinical depression.  Through her academic journey and career progression, she built knowledge and skills in risk assessment, crisis management, and therapeutic interventions to effectively treat a wide range of clients in multiple settings.  Her next step is to complete licensing requirements in the State of California and advance her career as a clinical psychologist.

What advice did Kristie offer Walden students who are considering social services careers?  She commented, “Do your research on what you’re going for.  Your career and education are not something you want to take lightly.”  Kristie suggested targeting entry-level positions such as “case manager” to gain experience working with children and adults in a variety of settings including housing programs, life skills training programs, and treatment centers.  She also recommended getting involved in a state psychological association and the American Psychological Association to meet psychologists, therapists, counselors, and other social services professionals; and attend professional development events.  Finally, she emphasized taking advantage of what Walden has to offer, including working with the Career Services department to learn how to market your professional skills and set attainable career goals.

We wish Kristie success as she continues to impact clients and improve county systems through her clinical expertise and commitment to mentally ill clients.

Interested in making a career transition into Psychology or a related field?

 Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services


Creative Networking Strategies for Landing a Field Experience Site

Jennifer Wisneski, a Walden PhD in Psychology ̶ Clinical Psychology student, landed a Field Experience site by connecting with a potential site supervisor through LinkedIn.  She is our guest blogger for this post.


Jennifer Wisneski


The Challenge of Finding a Practicum

As I completed my coursework for the Clinical Psychology PhD program and started working on my dissertation, I knew it was time to explore field experience requirements.  I started researching potential sites one year prior to securing a practicum and faced several challenges along the way.  In my small town, I found very few sites with a full-time psychologist to provide supervision.  Most psychologists I contacted worked in private practice or were close to retirement, neither willing to take on a student.  Other sites made it difficult to get past the clerical staff to speak directly to the psychology department.

With the increased need for mental health services, it was incredibly surprising to exhaust my list of prospective sites in a few short months.  I reached out to the Field Experience department at Walden, and they directed me to a website which manages a database of internships and allows students to apply for multiple opportunities.  To utilize the database search, I needed to create a profile and upload my resume.  After working for the same employer for the past nine years, I realized my resume was outdated.  I decided to contact Career Services for help.

3 Helpful Tips from Career Services

During my initial phone call with Career Services, I received a brief overview of available services and learned what to expect from career advising appointments.   The knowledge my career advisor managed to pack into the 45-minute session was well worth every minute!  Specifically, I gained the following three tips from my career advisor to help me in my Field Experience search:

  • First, I received many suggestions on how to improve my CV by using strong action words, being specific about my experience, and strengthening my accomplishments to showcase my level of professionalism in the human services field.
  • Second, my career advisor suggested I build a profile on LinkedIn. I was unsure about using LinkedIn, but I was willing to try anything to network while searching for a practicum site.  My career advisor taught me how to search for people in my field of interest using LinkedIn, which helped me make connections with potential site supervisors.
  • Third, I learned how to set up a career portfolio that I could bring with me to interviews. I developed a portfolio to showcase my accomplishments, professional interests, and samples of my work.

A Surprise Call from a New LinkedIn Connection

It was incredible how quickly opportunities opened up after a few sessions working with Career Services.  After I updated my CV and set up my LinkedIn profile, I started to connect with local professionals in the mental health field.  To my amazement, within days of establishing my profile, I received a phone call from one of my new contacts on LinkedIn.  She had just started in her role as Chief Psychologist at a local psychiatric hospital that week.  I had been trying to set up a practicum at this site for over a year with no success.  She told me the summary of my qualifications on my CV caught her attention.  Within two weeks, I met with her for an interview.  Referencing my portfolio during the interview made the process stress-free, and I secured the practicum position during the interview.

Ready for the Next Career Step

Having an updated CV, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile has allowed me to expand my professional network in many ways.  I interviewed with three other sites for practicum and now I have several sites to consider for internship.  This process has also improved my confidence and interviewing skills, and expanded my professional network.  In addition to establishing a plan to finish my field experience and graduate in 2018, I have a great outlook to the start of my professional career!

Written by Jennifer Wisneski, PhD in Psychology-Clinical Psychology student, Walden University. 


A Face-off with Finance


Thanks to Angie Lira, Senior Career Advisor, for this creative graphic

I haven’t taken a math class in more than 30 years. Balancing my checkbook has been all the math I needed – until now. These days I’m facing off with present values, future values, net present values, and the Dividend Discount Model. I’m in a doctoral level Finance class, which is like climbing Mount Everest without a sherpa or climbing experience!

I know – there are infinitely more important things going on in the world right now – Executive Orders, Cabinet nominations, and world-wide marches. Absolutely! I watch Robert Reich’s “Resistance Reports” nightly and I’m tracking Twitter for the latest breaking news.

However, just in case this article helps others struggling with their own Mount Everests, here it is.

There’s a saying, “Leap and the net will appear.”

When I posted a plea for Finance help on Facebook, a friend suggested I consult local non-profits. I reached out to my local SCORE chapter. A retired finance executive called me to discuss the time value of money for more than an hour! I contacted an alumnus from our university via LinkedIn to ask whether he would consider tutoring me. He is very skilled at explaining financial concepts in layperson’s terms, and we had a very helpful Google Hangout discussion. When I offered to pay for his time, he refused, saying this was his way of “paying it forward.”

I reached out to my instructor – we met via Skype on a weekend. His helpful Excel spreadsheets and explanations made things so clear that I aced my next quiz. I must be catching on now. I just ran a complex course work assignment by a tutor in our university’s Academic Skills Center. He’s a finance expert and he said it looked like I was on the right track. Amazing!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director, Career Services Center and DBA Student                         Originally published on LinkedIn, February 6, 2017



Finding Hope and Support Through Career Transition


Have you experienced an unprecedented event that permanently changed your life and career?  If so, you are not alone. Rhonda is an EdD alumna who had a successful career in education administration until a family member became ill.  To care for her loved one, Rhonda left her position as a Program Administrator and assumed the role of a full-time caregiver for several years.  During this time, Rhonda completed her EdD program and wrote a doctoral study on first-generation college students that identified hope as a critical factor in student success.  As she attempted to re-enter the workforce and find meaningful work, she maintained her sense of hope through advocates, friends, and the Walden community.  Her relentless commitment to following her dreams and sharing her vision with others resulted in a “perfect fit” position working for a faith-based nonprofit committed to stopping human trafficking.

How did Rhonda gather positive energy from others to find the right opportunity?

Finding Supporters and Job Search Advocates
When Rhonda made a long-term commitment to complete her EdD and make a difference in the world, not everyone in her life was supportive of her efforts.  To succeed in her doctoral program and job search, Rhonda decided to surround herself with people who embraced her vision, including dedicated friends and her doctoral study chair at Walden, Dr. Tom Cavanagh.  She also connected with Walden’s Career Services Center where she received networking tips, interview strategies, and job search tools that elevated her confidence.  She reached out to multiple nonprofit organizations and universities for informational interviews and became skilled in sharing her career goals with others.  Rhonda periodically updated her advocates on her progress and personal growth.  Her open heart and sincere gratitude motivated others to provide valuable leads, tips, and job search strategies.

Rekindling Friendship and Faith
One day, Rhonda was driving to another city for an informational interview.  While on the road, she remembered that a former pastor and dear friend lived a few miles away from her route.  She picked up the phone and invited him and his wife to dinner.  During the dinner, the pastor mentioned a nonprofit organization working to stop human trafficking.  Rhonda decided to reach out to this organization for an informational interview based on her interest in their faith-based mission.  Shortly afterward, she met with the organization’s founder and made such a positive impression that she was invited back for a series of four interviews and, ultimately, hired to develop curriculum and courses for professionals and agencies working to stop human trafficking in Thailand.  Rhonda’s new role allows her to live her mission and apply her writing and analytical skills to make a difference in the lives of women and children.  Currently, the nonprofit is exploring new ways to utilize Rhonda’s skills, including developing programs in the U.S.

What are Rhonda’s next steps?  She is looking for new ways to strengthen her connections with people and organizations she encountered through her career transition.  Ultimately, her mission is to generate hope for others who are facing challenges and searching for a more meaningful life.  She encourages Walden students who are in career transition to never let go of their dreams, find advocates who can generate ideas, and reach out to Career Services for help.  She said, “[Career Services] gave me the hope and encouragement I needed that led to the path I was destined to take.  I could not have reached my goals without this support.”

Are you in career transition?  The Career Services Center is here to help!

Need additional support through life transitions?  Reach out to Walden’s Student Assistance Program.

Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director of Career Services


“A New Year, A New You!”


What are your career goals for your degree?  Are you targeting a new job, a career change, a raise, or a promotion?  Are you earning your degree to stay competitive in your field?

The start of a new year is the perfect time for career-related self-assessment and goal setting to recharge your batteries.

Ask yourself three simple questions:

  • Will you have work or volunteer experience to qualify you for your future career goal at graduation?
  • Are you proactively building your network and your knowledge of the latest trends in your field through professional associations, LinkedIn groups, and social media sites like Twitter?
  • Is your resume updated with your latest experience, your current degree program, and the expected date of completion for your degree?

Would you have a few minutes to learn how our Career Services Center team can help with these strategies?  We invite you to watch our short “Meet Career Services” video to learn how we can support you in kick starting your career this new year!

For information on upcoming webinars and other programs, please visit our Career Center website.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and productive 2017 from the Career Services Center Team!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services