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Career Spotlight: Shabnam Javdani, Ph.D., New York University, Steinhardt

Shabnam Javdani, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Psychology
New York University, Steinhardt

1. What is your current occupation?

I am an Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

2. What do you do? / Describe your role.

I am a researcher and scholar-activist, a teacher and advisor to undergraduate and graduate students, a member of multiple committees and professional organizations, and the Principal Investigator of the RISE (Researching Inequity in Society Ecologically) research team. I feel very privileged to occupy these multiple roles and I am never ever bored!

3. How did you learn about your job? 

I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the job was posted to several listservs to which I belong. I knew the job was a potentially strong fit for me when about half a dozen people re-forwarded me the position announcement and encouraged me to apply. I might not have done so if I was not so strongly encouraged (and I am so grateful that I did).

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

Three things come to mind. First, I worked with amazing people in graduate school and on my internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Juvenile Research. My mentors opened up doors for me – both in terms of giving me access to resources I needed to succeed, and because they encouraged me to keep thinking and generating ideas. I collaborated with wonderful peers and learned so much from them (plus they made everything more fun). Second, I really made an effort to prioritize writing. I was a late bloomer – my first publication came out during the end of my fourth year of doctoral study, but I kept the momentum going by writing for at least one hour every day for the rest of my time as a student. Third, I had the privilege of working with mentors who encouraged me to take some calculated risks early on. I designed and piloted an intervention (that is now federally funded almost 10 years later!) and I got involved in many different projects from several different fields.

5. Are you a member of SCCAP? If so, how has being a member of SCCAP been helpful to you?

Yes! I love the scholarship generated by our division. In particular, I greatly appreciate the threads of social justice interwoven in the way research questions are asked, the prioritization of youth and children’s right to mental health, an emphasis on scientific rigor, and a clear vision and mission to shift policy and practice.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

Working with fantastic people on social problems and being able to generate, implement, and evaluate solutions as a collective research team.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

There’s not enough time in the day (read: finding balance). I handle it as best as I can through relying on my amazing team and listening to their advice regarding how to organize our work. I also try very hard to make time for writing no matter how much is going on. I am not always successful in this, but it is a constant effort that I hold myself accountable to by being part of a supportive writing group with brilliant people facing the same challenges.

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

To say “no” to more opportunities, and to know how to decide which of these opportunities to decline and which of them to pursue. I am still learning, but my vision is clearer now.

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

Take initiative, collaborate with strong peers, learn how to write scholarly papers, and write, write, write (even consider joining or forming a writing group)! But, don’t forget to take care of yourself and be a good citizen in the process.

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