Graduate School

Zach Love: Totally Psyched About Graduate Studies

Zach Love

Hometown: Gastonia, NC

Age: 24

Major: Occupational Health Psychology, PhD

Class: 2015

Zach Love came to ECU by way of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology became interested in the application of psychological principles in the workplace. The Gastonia, NC native completed his Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology as a Pirate and is now doctoral candidate in ECU’s PhD program in Occupational Health Psychology. His goal is to become a professional Industrial-Organizational Psychologist and launch a private consulting firm. A man of definite comedic talent, he notes that there are certain psychosocial benefits involved in being recognized as “Dr. Love.”
Zach Love

What do you find most challenging/rewarding about your graduate school experience?
The most challenging/rewarding facet of my graduate school experience thus far has been gaining proficiency in the field of statistics and related statistical software (e.g., SPSS, SAS and R). Our field requires extensive training in research design and statistical data analysis, and although this training is particularly challenging, it is also highly useful and desirable. For example, knowledge in this arena allows I-O Psychologists to design reliable and valid measures and accurately describe the results of a study to any given audience.

What is cool about your area of study and why should people care about it?
Our field is incredibly cool, as there are a wide variety research and career opportunities that allow researchers and practitioners to use psychology to solve a diverse range of business problems. I-O Psychologists examine such topics as employee selection, workplace health interventions, and employee job attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction). Moreover, we are able to provide data-driven solutions to organizations in order to enhance individual quality of life and optimize human performance. For example, I am interested in the application of our field to sports, and more specifically, the personality traits of professional athletes that are related to performance. As an I-O Psychologist, I may be afforded the opportunity to consult the Carolina Panthers on the selection of their athletes (i.e., employees) in the NFL Draft.

Tell us about any academic awards/recognitions/publications you may have achieved:
After completing the Master’s degree program, I received the departmental award for “Outstanding Student Award for the Industrial/Organizational M.A. Program.” Additionally, my Master’s thesis entitled, “Workplace Mentoring: The Impact of Humor Style and Frequency” was selected for a poster presentation at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Honolulu, HI. I am involved in several manuscripts under submission to peer-reviewed journals, including my Master’s thesis, which has been submitted to the Journal of Applied Psychology for review. Additionally, I was chosen to represent the I-O and OHP programs as a speaker at the 3rd Annual Prescription for Success Conference at ECU.

What recognition are you most proud of and why?
According to Ace Ventura, “Pride is an abomination. One must forego the self to obtain total spiritual creaminess, and avoid the chewy chunks of degradation.” That said, the recognition that I am most proud of would easily be the acceptance of my thesis as a poster presentation at the SIOP conference. Other than obvious reasons such as getting to travel to Hawaii, I am also proud of this accomplishment because the fruits of my academic labor will be recognized at this prestigious conference that has a notoriously low acceptance rate for submissions. Finally, it is pleasing to know that this research is valuable to others, and that it could potentially be used to improve organizations.

How do you think your ECU graduate education has helped you?
My graduate education has given me an unequivocal advantage in the job market. Specifically, this program provides me with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be an effective I-O Psychologist. Additionally, my experience at ECU has granted me with the opportunity to serve as a graduate assistant in the Office of Innovation and Economic Development, and prepared me for a summer internship in the talent management department at Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC. Furthermore, the outstanding faculty members associated with our program are exceedingly invested in both the professional and personal development of the students.

What would you say to someone considering ECU as a potential graduate school?
When considering any school as a potential site for graduate study, it is important to do your research on the program and visit the schools of interest. If you do your research, you will find that ECU’s graduate programs are highly competitive and consistently ranked amongst the top graduate programs in the nation, particularly in the I-O Psychology field. Additionally, if you visit the campus and meet with the faculty/students, you discover the exceptional academic resources, pervasive passion for ECU football, and priority on balancing work and play. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly challenging to get accepted into any graduate school, so it is imperative that you apply to as many schools as possible, including ECU. Finally, ECU is one of the few schools that offer I-O and OHP concentrations at the graduate-level, thus making it an attractive option for students interested in these fields.

Hobbies: Watching collegiate/professional football and basketball, Playing flag football, pick-up basketball and golf, Practicing piano/keyboard (16+ years of experience), Hanging out with my girlfriend, Ajsela, and our dog, Hunter, Sharpening my video game prowess, Socializing with friends at local saloons, Listening to a variety of music genres including R&B and bluegrass

8:00am-8:45am Wake up / get ready for the day / eat breakfast
8:45am-9:00am Go to Sheetz and get a coffee
9:00am-10:15am Class in Rawl Building
10:15am-11:00am Dissertation meeting with advisor
11:00am-12:15pm Class in Rawl Building
12:15pm-1:00pm Lunch with classmate/coworker/friend
1:00pm-5:00pm Graduate Assistantship work at the OIED
5:00pm-6:30pm Play basketball / work out at the SRC
6:30pm-7:00pm Shower / eat dinner
7:00pm-8:00pm Practice keyboard (i.e., piano)
8:00pm-11:00pm Work on homework, dissertation, and various research projects
11:00pm-11:30pm Talk to girlfriend / dog on the phone
11:30pm-8:00am Sleep

*Reading/Responding to emails continuously throughout the day via school computer, laptop, and iPhone (approximately 70 emails per day; from four different email accounts)

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College: Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, Psychology

Clubs & Organizations: SIOP – Student Affiliate, NCIOP – Student Affiliate, SOHP – Student Affiliate, ECU Personality and Behavior Lab – Active Member, ECU Sports Analytics Lab – Founder

Favorite class: Issues in Personnel Selection (PSYC 6420)

Professor who has influenced you the most: Dr. Mark Bowler – Advisor and Dissertation Chair 

Dream job: Industrial-Organizational Psychologist who is the CEO / Founder of a consulting firm 

Reasons for choosing Occupational Health Psychology: I am interested in the application of psychological principles in the workplace to solve business problems. Additionally, I want to provide data-driven solutions to organizations in order to enhance individual quality of life, optimize human performance, and increase organizational effectiveness.

Your words to live by: "If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you'll most certainly be right."

Significant life lesson you’ve learned while at ECU: One significant life lesson that I have learned while at ECU has been to strike a balance between work and life. Although it may be difficult to achieve work-life balance during graduate school, it is imperative that you work hard when you are engaged in academic/work-related endeavors, but also make a conscious effort to socialize, relax, and pursue personal interests. Finding an individualized work-life balance will enable you to be a successful and fully functioning person during this challenging life experience.