Kikkhullet (Avtrykk): Claudia Pazmandi

I denne spalten ønsker vi å ta en titt på psykologigraden og dens mange
muligheter og bruksområder i arbeidslivet – hvor og hvordan man kan jobbe,
hva man kan jobbe med og hvordan arbeidshverdagen kan se ut. Denne gangen
har vi intervjuet tidligere masterstudent Claudia Pazmandi

Claudia Pazmandi

25 years old, from San Carlos, California. 

Bachelors: Cognitive science, UC Davis (2014-2018)

Masters: Cognitive neuroscience, UiO, (2019-2021)

Why did you choose this exact masters degree?

I guess I chose this masters because I spent my first two years of my undergrad undeclared – I just did a general education in psychology science. The last two years were more focused on cognitive neuroscience. I was very engaged with the neuroscience courses and wanted to keep studying. I chose the cognitive neuroscience masters here in Oslo, because I was looking for a two-year masters program in Europe with no tuition fee. Also, I wanted to attend a program with interesting courses and a good reputation. That’s how I ended up here.

What was the best part of your masters? What was the most challenging?

The best part was that I really enjoyed my methods courses. I really liked learning about neuroscience methods, what they involve and how to do them properly. I also really enjoyed taking an active part of the research work during my internship – learning about what research entails. I was involved in the data collection and the whole process that goes into executing a study. 

The most challenging part of my masters was definitely writing my thesis. A lot of time went into learning the material which is much more niche and technical than what you are used to from your bachelors. So there was a lot of theoretical work. When I started my thesis I already knew that there is a huge difference between learning something theoretically and executing them in real life. I don’t think I was prepared for how big of a leap it actually is. It was exponentially harder to execute these things that I had learned about theoretically. The data collection, data analysis and writing up my thesis was the absolute hardest part about my masters degree, but also the most rewarding. It was almost like I could feel my brain growing everyday.

Where do you work at the moment? Can you tell us about what you do and what a typical day at work would look like for you?

I work at Leknes Affective Brain Lab, in the Psychology Department here at the University of Oslo. My official title is senior engineer, but I do a lot of things. I am a lab manager and data scientist. My responsibilities include lab management, organising lab meetings, team management and administrative duties. I also have responsibilities in making data collection happen. This involves making protocols, organizing experiment staff and participants as well as making sure our ethics are updated at all times. This is typical for a research job where you have your hand in everything. If you’re working on a research project of your own, the demands of your week are based on the stage which you’re at for your research. If you’re developing a study, your day probably involves reading a lot of literature and formulating a study design. With the study I work on, we’re actively doing data collection at the moment, which requires a lot of active problem solving and troubleshooting. 

Do you have any tips, tricks or words of wisdom you would like to share with students who are interested in the same career path as you?

My impression has been that working in research requires a lot of active learning, and it takes some time to be able to be involved in all the stages of a research project. It can take some time to have experience with a whole study from conception to publication. I still don’t have all that experience, but it means that you constantly have learning to do. I don’t even know at which point you would begin to feel this feeling of mastery, because you always learn as you go, and that is really engaging. I don’t like too much routine, so I love that each day is different. This field also comes with a lot of flexibility. For people that prefer more structure, this type of work can feel uncomfortable and thus this might not be the best career path to go into, but for me it works. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If you’re interested in research, it’s advisable to have some kind of idea about which direction you want to go in. Oftentimes working in research there is this academic career trajectory. You get your PhD, you get your postdoc, your publications and work towards some sort of goal of being somebody who answers questions about a field that interests them. It would be difficult to step into a research job without any idea about which direction you want to go in. There is a big need for lab managers and you’ll learn a lot about research and research methods in this position. But typically people would take these kinds of positions because they want to have research experience to move along and answer research questions of their own.