Alumni Spotlight: Rucha Markale

A photo of Rucha Markale, smiling and wearing a red shirt with a white background

Rucha Markale (she/her)

Major: PSY BS (Spring 2022)
Position: Clinical Research Coordinator
Employer: UMN Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

What is your work like? What are your duties?

- Facilitate successful implementation of study protocol
- Assist with supervision and training of RAs
- Assist with regulatory items and ensure data compliance and integrity (eg. preparation and management of IRB applications, adverse event reports)
- Screen potential participants and conduct informed consents
- Assist in building the study and measures in REDCap
- Work with community mental health clinics partnered with the study

How would you say your psychology degree has helped you with your current job?

The psych degree at the U puts a heavy emphasis on research, which works perfectly for me because I work in a research lab. The psych stats, research methods, and capstone course directly apply to my position. There's a lot of work that goes on in the back end. The mini-project we did in research methods was a stepping stone for when I did my Capstone. Having to go through all the steps from submitting a proposal to writing the Capstone paper have been valuable experiences that directly help with my duties as a research coordinator. So I came into the position with a little bit of understanding of how a study is set up, and I learned that I liked doing research.

In what way has your major complemented your current job?

My lab does clinical research. We work with depressed adolescents. Though I don't do clinical evaluations, the psych major helps during screening. Having an understanding of different mental illnesses helps when I'm trying to prompt more information from families during the screening process. At times families will disclose safety concerns and the courses I've taken during my undergrad help me navigate those situations. The technical knowledge my major gave me has been valuable in my current position, but the soft skills I've learned have been invaluable too. A lot of my work, whether it's data collection or assessment of a participant's ability to consent or working with our partner clinics, feels like it comes naturally because of my major. I learned soft skills like communication and listening skills, which have been essential when working with families as well as other research team members.

How did you find your current position? Please include any resources you may have used (UMN or otherwise)

I started working in this research lab the summer after freshman year and had expressed interest in the coordinator position early on. So when the former coordinator was leaving for grad school and the position opened, it felt like a natural transition to go from RA to coordinator. When my PI offered the opportunity to work as her coordinator, I talked it through with the psych advisors before accepting the position. I also used the resources CLA Career Services has on its website (eg. how to negotiate a job offer).

What advice do you have for our current psych students and recent grads?

Talk to people! This includes your advisors, career counselors, professors, professionals, etc. You never know what kind of connection you'll make or what opportunity you'll get. During my undergrad, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to go to grad school, professional school, and whether I wanted to take a gap year(s). I did informational interviews with so many people. I used the connections I made at psych advising events, I asked my PI and other researchers I worked with to make introductions, I emailed a guest lecturer who made an introduction to a psychiatrist working in a niche area in psych I'm interested in. I learned different career paths and different job options post-bac, and it helped hearing how many of the people who I talked to took more than 1 gap year.

If you're worried about making a connection or asking for an informational interview, I will tell you what one of the psych advisors told me: the worst thing they'll say is no; you won't know until you ask. I found that most people are more than happy to help. So talk to people and use your connections!


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