Prospective Students

Bacallao MichaelMichael Bacallao

Graduation Year: 2016

Major(s) and Minor: Major in Psychology and Minor in Sociology

 Why did you choose Psychology as your major?

I chose Psychology as a major because I was interested in pursuing a Psy D program after graduating. I wanted to become a clinical therapist and work with youths and their families. I also understood the graduate school options that a degree in Psychology affords a student. I ended up pursuing a Masters in Social Work after graduating and attending Rutgers again for my MSW. After earning my MSW I will continue my educational growth and eventually obtain an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). With these credentials, I will be able to own a practice and provide clinical services to families in my community.

What did you like most about it?

The most exciting part of my undergraduate experience was all of the co-curricular activities I participated in. I had an internship through the Psychology department at a local jail in Jamesburg NJ. I volunteered at Rutgers Violence Prevention and Victims Assitance (VPVA) which provided advocacy for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Lastly and dearest to my heart, I spent three years working in a Behavioral Neuroscience Lab run by Dr. John McGann. I acquired an incredible amount of useful and practical experience in the research lab environment. I learned to code, build devices, electrical wiring, collecting data, and so much more. I strongly encourage all Psychology students to find a laboratory to participate in even if you are not necessarily interested in research.

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Currently, I am in the Rutgers MSW program in the School of Social Work. I am interning at Middlesex County CMO providing Care Management Services to families in the Middlesex County Area. I was recently hired to provide Applied Behavior Analysis services to families who have a youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I also just applied to my second year internship at University Behavioral Health Center on Busch Campus where I might be providing services in an Intensive Outpatient Setting which can involve individual therapy and groups. Graduate school has afforded me the opportunity to gain more practical experience before I work in the field outside of the school setting which is something that I personally love. I want to feel as prepared for “the real thing” as possible, just like every other student.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

My first job after Rutgers was becoming a Behavioral Tech at Achieve Beyond. As I described earlier, this is a setting in which you provide techniques such as Functional Communication Training in order teach youths with Autism communication skills that they can use to improve their interactions with others. I applied for this job because I heard from others in the field that this setting was a great place to start my career. There is a great demand for professionals who are willing to help these families as Autism becomes a more prevalent issue.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

Currently I am still at Achieve Beyond while I am finishing my last year of my MSW. I will hopefully be in a more clinical setting after I graduate providing case management services and therapy.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

My experience in the lab setting made my Rutgers experience. Being involved in research opened more doors than I can name. The amount of mentorship and professional development I received is still remarkable to me. Without Dr. McGann and Michelle Rosenthal, I don’t think I would be where I am today. They helped mold a nervous non-traditional student who was motivated and willing to learn into a research-minded individual who sought out challenges and strived for excellence. They gave me the knowledge I needed to succeed and the confidence that I could do it.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

Come into the program ready to learn both inside and outside the classroom. Rutgers has so much to offer but no one is going to chase you down to offer it to you. You need to be proactive and seek out professors for mentorship and research experience. Come prepared and ready to dedicate some of your time to this experience. You will gain as much from it as you put in. If you do find yourself in a lab setting, try to do the Honors Research Program. It gives you the chance to work on a research project and present it. It is never too early to build your CV!