Natalie Therrien Normand
My name is Natalie Therrien Normand, and I'm a Program Manager at the provincial team that oversees grants made by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the government of Ontario. I have my MA in Experimental and Applied Psychology from the University of Regina. I received it in 2013, but so much of what I did at university I am still doing today.
I help people apply for grants by delivering presentations (like the courses I used to guest lecture in as a TA) and doing one-on-one coaching (like office hours), I assess grant applications when they come in (like scoring papers and exams as a TA), and monitor grants that are funded (which works a lot like monitoring all the work happening in my old labs). I also work on OTF's volunteer education initiatives to train our volunteers to meet corporate goals. This means a lot of juggling, like in my academia days.
Studying psychology has helped me in a myriad of ways. First are the obvious project management skills I learned in my graduate level studies, which apply to managing grants. Juggling multiple projects and deadlines is essential to my work, and indeed my career. But beyond that, learnings about human behaviour and the mind keep popping up, whether it's communication skills, the team-forming framework I learned in, literally, one sports psychology class that comes up over and over again. People think you have crazy ninja human behaviour skills, but it's things anyone can learn in basic psychology courses (which is what I tell them!). What may be most important are my critical thinking skills, and being adaptable in a field where feedback and constructive criticism are constant. We all know from our training that the constant cycle of producing work, receiving feedback, and working to improve that work is how you grow, or how a project/paper gets better.
I love that I get to work with people. I love that I get to apply my skills in an unexpected way. I work with people with super varied educational and professional backgrounds but I don't think anyone expects to have someone with an advanced degree in Psychology among them. The assumption is that this would mean I'd be a clinician or a counsellor. And as I mentioned above, even the basic principles of an education in psychology come up in the every day working world.