Division 53 | Past Columns - Paula Fite

Past Columns - Paula Fite
Paula Fite, Ph.D., University of Kansas

Paula Fite, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Kansas

1. What is your current occupation?

AnsI am an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas(KU).

2. What do you do? / Describe your role.

Ans - My primary roles as a faculty member are to engage in scholarly research, mentor students, and teach. I spend the majority of my time conducting research on the etiology and developmental progression of child and adolescent problem behavior.  This research includes working with schools and various community agencies in addition to working with families that come to our research lab and/or receive services in our training clinic.  I work directly with students on these research endeavors, with our research team comprised of undergraduate and graduate students in addition to research volunteers.  The students and volunteers are engaging in their own projects within these larger projects, and a large part of my job is to provide guidance and mentorship for these projects.  I teach graduate and undergraduate level courses, including a topics course on antisocial youth, developmental psychology, achievement and intellectual assessment in children and adolescents, and clinical supervision/practicum.

3. How did you learn about your job? 

Ans - As an undergraduate at Indiana University I started working in Dr. John Bates’ Social Development lab.  This was my first exposure to academic research and I loved it.  I asked many questions about a career path in academia and what it entailed.

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

Ans - After such wonderful undergraduate research experiences and opportunities I went to graduate school at the State University of New York at Buffalo under the exceptional tutelage of Dr. Craig Colder.  During my graduate career I was fortunate to be provided with many opportunities to develop my independent line of research and gain experience teaching, which further solidified my career choice.  While on internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center I gained further professional development and clinical training that helped me to obtain my first academic position at the University of Tennessee (UT), where I was a faculty member for 4 years.  I am currently in my 3rd year at KU, and I am loving every minute of my job.

5. Are you a member of Division 53?  If so, how has being a member of Division 53 been helpful to you?

Ans - I am not currently a member.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

Ans - I truly love the research process.  You get to ask questions that are of interest to you that can have real world implications.  You also get to engage students in hands-on learning.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

Ans - I would say that the toughest aspect of my job is managing all the various tasks that need to get accomplished while also being a mom and maintaining a personal life.  In order to manage the various aspects of the job and personal life, I have developed some serious time management skills.  I make sure to schedule family time and I prioritize tasks and projects.

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

Ans - Embrace the learning process.  Make the most of the feedback and critiques to become the best that you can be.  When you begin your career you are going to wish that you still had someone to provide you with the detailed feedback!

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

Ans - Make sure that you do what you enjoy doing.  If conducting research is what you want to be doing then be persistent and make it happen.  Find opportunities to get involved and then make the most of these opportunities.

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