Jacob Bradburn is a native Michigander who has completed all his postsecondary education thus far in the state. Jacob’s family is close by and spending time with them and his wife is really important to him. Jacob is studying Organizational Psychology in the College of Social Science at MSU. Jacob says, “The premise of Organizational Psychology (OPsych) is trying to take principles from psychology and use them to better the workplace and best serve the employees of the workplace.” The OPsych program at MSU is a combined Master’s/Ph.D., and Jacob has successfully earned his master’s and is pursuing the final components of his doctorate.
Jacob says he knew after his undergraduate degree that he wanted to attend graduate school. “I didn’t want to stop engaging in the things I liked to do. I wanted to become an expert. To learn the ins and outs of research.” While Jacob applied to multiple programs, when he came to visit MSU he saw researchers who loved what they did and was compelled by the scope of things Spartans were trying to research and accomplish. When an MSU faculty member told Jacob he could work on projects that “redefine where research in his area was headed”, he was sold immediately.
In his OPsych research, Jacob looks at individual differences in people, such as personality and interests, and how employees are selected for roles. He says that people have different characteristics that impact how they work best and what jobs they may be more successful in. For Jacob, his dream role is helping optimize happiness and effectiveness in organizations by helping find people who are the best fit for available jobs (and jobs that are the best fit for the people). “If you match with your job, you’re happier, you’re more productive. If not, it’s the opposite. Turnover is super expensive for companies, with training new employees and the performance curve to get employees up to speed in a job. You want them to stay, but if your selection process doesn’t work, the people who are there won’t be successful and will leave,” says Jacob.
Jacob says, “We spend so much time at work, it's a huge part of our life. A huge part of our identity is our work. It can provide purpose and meaning, but it can also be soul-sucking. My work is focused on helping work suck less. Businesses have so much potential for positive impact and I want to help them reach that potential.” After finishing his degree at MSU, Jacob says he wants to apply his learnings in a hands-on role in the business world; where he is able to build things that directly impact people in a positive way. In the meantime, Jacob has done this kind of work at MSU through his involvement in the Graduate School Leadership Institute. Jacob is an alum of MSU’s Leadership Academy and has been involved with the MSU Leadership Institute since Spring 2017. Most recently he wrapped up his tenure as the College of Social Science’s Graduate Leadership Fellow where he worked on a variety of community and capacity building initiatives for his College peers.