Clarkie of the Week: 10/30

Olivia Vande Griek | Photo:
Olivia Vande Griek | Photo:

Olivia Vande Griek is a senior at Clark from Williston, Vermont majoring in psychology, and minoring in management. She is the president of Psi Chi and has been involved in a plethora of psychology research not only in New England, but also in the Netherlands.

Scarlet: What have you enjoyed most about being the president of Psi Chi?

Olivia: I love working with other Psi Chi members to plan and hold events that are truly helpful for students. It is great to learn everyone’s goals and to figure out how we can accommodate them with forums, networking opportunities, and community outreach. For example, we’re planning a career forum for psychology majors who want to work in applied, community-oriented fields. It’s nice having the ability to add to the resources that Clark has to offer students, from the students’ perspective.


Scarlet: Can you tell us a little bit about your internship experience at Harvard the past two summers? What did you do? How was it?

Olivia: I worked in Dan Gilbert’s social psychology lab for the last two summers, which was amazing! I basically spent my days conceptualizing, designing, and running experiments that were going on in the lab. I worked alongside about ten other interns so it was a very tight-knit, intelligent, and inspiring community. We focused a lot on shared experiences, and how being with another person can influence your experiences on both a perceptual and moral level. It was wonderful to learn from a diverse, impressive group of people in a new environment, and really shed light on the research world in a new context.


Scarlet: I hear that you studied abroad in the Netherlands? What did you research there? How was the experience?

Olivia: I worked in Leiden (near Amsterdam) researching how having power in a team influences people’s motivation to appear moral to those teams. In (very) short, we found that power actually made people more motivated to appear moral to their teams, which was so encouraging! After so much news on the evils of society and how horrible everything can be, it’s nice to find something where you can say, “See? People really aren’t so bad after all!”


Scarlet: How were you able to get to work in the Netherlands? How was working with Naomi Ellemers, PhD there?

Olivia: I was able to work with her through the EuroScholars program- basically a study abroad program where you choose your destination based on the research being done. When I first applied, I didn’t realize who she was, just that I liked her research. When I got to Leiden, though, I realized she’s a huge deal! There were photos and articles about her all over the psychology department walls, some with the Queen of the Netherlands! Luckily I met her before I had time to become too intimidated. She was, and continues to be, extremely helpful and insightful in our work, and I’m really fortunate to be able to work with her.


Scarlet: If you were to give one piece of advice to an undergraduate student pursuing psychology, what would it be?

Olivia: I would tell them to get out into the world and reach out to people! There are so many opportunities out there that are so easily overlooked. You have to be aggressive about finding them sometimes, even if that means emailing someone within an organization directly and telling them you’re interested in working with them, even if there’s no job listing! I think there’s a big misconception that people don’t want their time wasted with by students- it’s just not true. People LOVE to know that young people like us appreciate their work. You just have to know what you’re asking for and how to ask for it well. People in the working world (seem to) love helping students find a path, and are specifically impressed by those who are willing to initiate communication. Psychology is such a broad field, so it’s important to learn about the different directions it can take through real opportunities.

Also just talk to everyone about what you’re interested in! You never know if the person sitting next to you is also interested in that, or if they know someone who knows someone who is the founder of what you want to do. Despite all of our helpful technology shortcuts, I still think talking to people directly about real problems and passions is the best way to get ahead. Connect with people in small ways.

Thanks for the interview, Olivia!