Grad student interns at military defense company in Nashville
- Gabriela Guadalupe Vargas Berroa & Alicia Carter
- Wednesday, February 24th, 2021
Casandra ‘Faith’ Rollins, a graduate student from Goodlettsville, Tennessee who is earning a master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, spent last summer interning for Military Systems Group (MSG), a military defense company in Nashville.
During the internship, Rollins assisted the company with their compensation strategy and recruitment and led a safety committee project in collaboration with MSG’s sister company, Richland Industries in southern Tennessee.
"The internship aspect of the program is so important because it allows our cohort to distinguish ourselves after graduation and refine our career interests,” Rollins said. “At MSG, I was able to develop multiple safety committees and implement behavior-based safety training policies for both MSG and Richland. The men and women who work in these factories operate heavy-duty and high-tech machinery to create land, air, and naval weapon mounting systems for many different military units around the world. Having a strong safety climate is something that is a necessity for companies like MSG, and I am grateful I got to use my skills to make a positive impact in enhancing their commitment to workplace safety.”
Rollins is also a leading research assistant in the WKU Discrimination and Work-Life Lab (DAWL). Under the supervision of Dr. Katrina Burch, Assistant Professor in the WKU Department of Psychological Sciences, the lab focuses on workplace discrimination, harassment and the work-life interface. They examine how people manage their work and non-work lives, including eldercare, childcare and school with an emphasis on spillover and crossover effects. They examine discrimination and harassment experienced by minorities in the workplace, and the implications of these experiences on employee health, well-being and performance.
Rollins is currently leading a data collection effort on understanding college students’ paid employment experiences as part of her master’s thesis research. She is investigating the maladaptive coping mechanisms employed students develop in response to the stress of managing both work and school demands.
"College students represent a large number of new workers in our labor force, and the goal of my study is for researchers and practitioners to better understand the early development of negative coping mechanisms in response to inter-role conflict," Rollins said.
Another lab project that Rollins is working on examines the applicability of training elderly adults on various uses of technology. She said that she hopes her academic commitment to research can be used to improve the quality of life for others.
“We believe this project will provide Kentucky seniors with resources they need to successfully meet their daily living needs in the twenty-first century," Rollins said.
For the second semester in a row, Rollins is teaching a psychological sciences research methods lab, which is required for all undergraduate psychological science students. She said teaching during the pandemic is challenging, but all her students have been eager to learn and partake in the lab activities which makes the experience especially rewarding.
“Leading a class of students on my own has opened my eyes to what it means to be on the other side of the classroom. Given that I also took this lab as an undergraduate student at WKU, I am honored to now teach the lab because it is one of the most essential courses the students take, setting the foundation for their advancement in the psychological sciences program,” said Rollins. “Research methodology is a challenging course, but essential because it allows students to better understand our field as a science and how they can contribute through research. I enjoy teaching the students and watching them grow and develop a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of our field while also expanding their data analysis and writing skills.”
One of the highlights of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program, according to Rollins, is working with faculty that truly care about their students and strive to make coursework engaging.
“WKU's program stood out to me given that it is recognized as a top program in the state of Kentucky and offers its students interesting and valuable research opportunities,” Rollins said. “The faculty’s genuine concern for their students’ success has encouraged me and others in our program to be the academics and professionals we are today. Being a part of a family that cheers you on no matter how challenging life can be gives you the feeling that anything is possible with hard work and that you are not alone in pursuing your greatest potential.”
Rollins graduates in May with plans to pursue a career as a Human Resources Generalist.
“Pursuing a career as an HR generalist will allow me to utilize a variety of my skills that I have accumulated throughout the program to help employees and organizations achieve success in our constantly evolving workplace. As a generalist, I will not only be able to execute my technical skills in job analysis, training, and organizational development, but I can also utilize my interest in the organizational side of the field with this career as well. Being a generalist will allow me to be involved with the development of organizational policies that can positively impact employees work-life balance, something I am passionate about and a topic I am currently researching,” Rollins said.
For more information about earning a master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, visit: https://www.wku.edu/psychological-sciences/grad/io/