How Studying Psychology Changed my Life

Series: The Life Changer

2 min readMar 1, 2024
Crop of a photo by Nyx Robey c. 2010 of the Life Sciences Building at UC Berkeley.

Most people don’t recommend studying psychology unless you are going to go on to get your PhD. However I think the field attracts and grows people who are inquisitive, care about mental health, empathetic to other people’s thoughts, and are intentional about problem-solving: key skills for living a successful life.

The struggle.

One of the issues with studying psychology, is that at least at the bachelor’s level, you end up with a pretty general degree that pits you against a lot of competition for work. While an entry-level computer science major can go on to get a coding job relatively easy, a psychology major struggles to sell themselves. The various niches one could go into (psychological biology, statistics, research, survey analytics, experimentation like A/B testing, understanding a user experience) can feel impossibly out of reach.

When I graduated college back in 2012, things were still rough with the Great Recession. I remember applying to be an assistant in Stanford’s lab and requesting a salary of $18k (~$24.5k adjusted for today’s inflation). Talk about low self-worth (also it’s crazy that I just adjusted for inflation — millennials, we are getting old). Instead I went on to volunteering roles where the pay was pretty much null, followed by non-profits, a start-up and ultimately consulting (where I got my biggest salary increase). Financially, I skirted by for a really long-time. Until last year, my net worth was thousands in the red from the student loans I took out to get said Psychology degree.

But I don’t regret it.

The skills.

Studying Psychology has given me knowledge and skills to put me well ahead of many of my peers and even my parents and their friends. Building these skills has afforded me some of my favorite accomplishments in life:

  • cycling across country
  • near-fluency in a second-language
  • at least 2 months living in over 8 states and another country
  • better ability to photograph, draw, and visualize
  • overcoming an eating disorder
  • effective organization techniques
  • intentional communication skills
  • leadership opportunities
  • self-confidence
  • empathy towards adverse and diverse experiences
  • published author in research

I also know it’ll be the foundation to prepare me for future challenges in my life like living abroad, having kids, making large financial investments, and washboard abs (jk, but it does certainly help with fitness!).

So if you’re a current or former psych major, and wondering “what if I studied Y” back in college, I invite you to join me on shifting your perspective and shining a light on all we have to offer (and to comment below on your favorite skills from studying psych).




Psychology | Data Science & Viz | Social Justice | Spanish