Bloom Where You Are Planted: Finding the Nourishment to Grow in Your Career

Growing your careerBy Kelly Riesenmy, PhD 
Assistant Department Chair, Graduate Psychology Programs   

Mary Engelbreit (Engelbreit, 2015) made the phrase "Bloom Where You Are Planted" popular as an illustration to convey an encouragement to grow and succeed wherever you are in life. This is a valuable sentiment with the understanding that in order for flowers to bloom, the plant requires specific conditions to flourish. For example, a plant will not bloom without well-fertilized soil, the specific balance of sunshine and shade, and adequate water. In the same way, in order for a career to bloom, specific conditions must be in place. 

A great education can help you prepare for career growth, just as fertile soil is needed for a plant to thrive. A plant also requires the right location for adequate light. Similarly, an individual requires the right educational program to pursue the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to career growth.

It is important to assess what is required to plant your career in the best place to grow. A bachelor's degree could provide enough root to start a career. However, additional education could be required for a career to bloom. One way to further nurture your career is through a master's degree program.

Bloom From the Original Vine: A Bachelor's Degree in Psychology to a Master's Degree in Psychology 

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, the master's degree with a specialization in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology at Purdue Global offers further enrichment that could take your skills and knowledge to the next level. A better understanding about the individual and organization at work could also contribute to career growth in management and leadership.* As an I/O psychology specialist, an individual could work alongside licensed psychologists and executive leaders to create and implement organizational programs, conduct personnel testing, and lead employee training and development.

A master's degree in psychology with an I/O specialization is designed to focus on the knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to this career field. Purdue Global's program focuses on providing a foundation for professionalism, including knowledge about the standards and ethics set forth by Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2015). Core courses include application of the theories and technologies related to the industry, and an understanding of the licensing and credentialing boundaries of the profession. 

Advanced research methods and testing and measurement courses focus on the critical skills for I/O-related careers, including areas such as workplace assessment and evaluation of programs and personnel decision-making (Scott & Reynolds, 2010). In addition, five specialization courses using the science-practitioner model provide the competencies for performance management and evaluation, human resource management and development, and leadership and training. Specific assignments provide applied experience in job analysis, designing an evaluation program for personnel selection, and developing quality improvement methods.

An individual working within the field of I/O psychology at the master's degree level could be involved in a business' recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, motivation and reward systems design, and research. The I/O psychology program at Purdue Global is designed to lay the groundwork for these competencies. Career opportunities could include jobs in education, government, marketing, human resource management, and consulting (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, 2010).*

Bloom in Fresh Ground: As a Master's Degree Transplant Into I/O Psychology 

The Graduate Psychology Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology is available for post-graduate students who seek a specialization in this area. This program is designed to broaden the working professional's knowledge to apply the principles of I/O psychology in business and organizational settings. 

Strategy and measurement, staffing, leadership and development, talent management, and performance management are critical issues in every business, organization, and discipline (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, n.d.). Figure 1 demonstrates how I/O psychology in context can be used to cultivate growth in a variety of career fields. For example, a degree in business can be potentiated with the I/O psychology certificate to pursue a career in management. Gaining a new perspective on organizational behavior could also be applied directly to the workplace.


Figure 1: I/O Psychology in Context

I/O psychology is unlike other management programs in that it offers a psychological perspective on the workplace (APA, 2015). I/O psychology uses the lens of human behavior to bring the workplace into focus. This unique perspective provides application to the workplace by giving theoretical insights into how people work individually and in teams and groups. Table 1 summarizes the course of study in the I/O psychology specialization at Purdue Global.

Table 1: Purdue Global I/O Psychology Specialization




Focuses on the structure, function, processes, and other organizational -level constructs that impact the behavior of individuals and groups in organizations.

AND BEHAVIOR (5 Credits)


Examines the theoretical foundations of organizational management and behavior, and explores how organizations function.



Examines the individual/team and the workplace environment, paying particular attention to direction, strength, and persistence of relevant individual/team behavior in organizations when individual/team abilities and organizational constraints are held constant.


Development of skills for supervising, training, and evaluating employees. Explores theory and practice in job and task analysis along with performance appraisal including legal aspects, techniques available, current research, cognitive aspects, and reliability and validity issues.

(5 Credits)

Topics include aspects of the hiring process, including employee selection and performance appraisal; affirmative action, labor laws, harassment, and equal-opportunity decision making; design and evaluation of training programs; training methods and leadership/management development; the work environment; compensation, benefits, and rate increases; and disciplinary action.


Designed to integrate academic knowledge with practical experience, and prepares the student for future training in professional psychology.


This course of study lays the groundwork for informed action. Figure 2 illustrates that the result of informed action is successful decision making.  Research in organizational behavior has shown that managers who were promoted quickly within their organization spent more time networking versus managers who spent more time working on being effective with employees (Robbins & Judge, 2015). Being familiar with this type of research will inform your decisions at work. Purdue Global's I/O psychology program focuses on the foundational knowledge to take critical career action steps.


Figure 2:  Making Career Decisions

Bloom Where You are Planted: Plant Yourself in the Right Place 

Regardless of your degree background or career direction, it is important to understand that planning your career is a personal experience. As you make career decisions, evaluate your personality, consider what you enjoy doing, and focus on important factors in your lifestyle. Match your career objectives with your personal attributes. Purdue Global has several resources available to help you through your career journey. One must be planted in the right place with rich knowledge that is cultivated through experience to fully grow and bloom in a career.

For more information about Purdue Global's Master of Science in Psychology with an I/O specialization or the Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, contact Julee Poole, PhD Department Chair at or Kelly Riesenmy, PhD Assistant Department Chair at

Kelly Riesenmy, PhD, is Assistant Department Chair, Graduate Psychology, at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.

The professional practice of psychology is regulated by each state, and the requirements in these programs do not guarantee or prepare graduates for state licensure. It is important to note that, while earning a master's degree in psychology may qualify you to work in the helping professions, a doctorate degree is required to become a psychologist and a medical degree is required to become a psychiatrist. Licensure exams may also be required.


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And if you are considering pursuing higher education, we invite you to find out more about Purdue Global’s programs and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.


American Psychological Association (2015). Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology. Retrieved from

Engelbreit, M. (2015). Mary Engelbreit trademark merchandise. Retrieved from

O*NET (2015). Summary report for Industrial Organizational Psychologist. Retrieved from

Robbins, S.P., & Judge, T.A. (2015). Organizational behavior (16th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Scott, J.C., & Reynolds, D.H. (Eds.) (2010). Handbook of workplace assessment: Evidence-based practices for selecting and developing organizational talent. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (2010). So you want to be an I-O psychologist? Webinar. Retrieved from

Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (n.d.). Maximizing human potential within organizations: Learning the science behind talent management. Retrieved from

United States Department of Labor (2014). Occupational outlook handbook: Fastest growing occupations. Retrieved from


*Purdue Global cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.