Jessica Ford, a doctoral dissertator in the PhD Kinesiology program under the advisement of Dr. Monna Arvinen-Barrow, has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Kinesiology position at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.
Ford is currently finishing her dissertation titled “Conceptualizing psychological performance enhancement in a music domain” and will defend her work in April. Recently, Jessica was kind enough to answer questions about her new position and the interview process.
Why did you decide to study sport psychology?
Growing up, I was a three-sport athlete and played Division III basketball in college. In addition to sports, I also took voice lessons and performed in bands from age 7 onwards. Even though I had a lot of experience being in front of people and performing, I noticed an imbalance between the physical skills and the mental skills associated with performance. In both sport and music, I would spend so much time practicing the physical elements, when many of my performance detriments were associated with mental aspects. I felt like I was always getting in my own way, and I did not know how to improve my mental game or where to look for help. Once I got to college I took an elective sport psychology course as a freshman, and realized that this was the “missing piece” I needed to develop as an athlete and a musician. From that day forward, I wanted to learn as much as I could about sport and performance psychology to help others achieve their performance goals.
Why did you choose this job?
I have always wanted a teaching-focused academic position at a smaller institution to complement my applied consulting. McDaniel College has all the elements that I was looking for; it is a small, academically rigorous institution that values the mentoring and development of each individual student. I chose this job because I wanted to be at a school that puts the needs of the students first. I also love how involved the Kinesiology students are with faculty research. In this position, I am able to continue with my line of research with musicians as well as teach courses in my area of specialization (e.g., sport, exercise & performance psychology). Additionally, the Kinesiology department has an established relationship with the athletics department, allowing for active collaboration. There is also a lot of opportunity for growth in this position, which I saw as an exciting challenge. For example, I cannot wait to develop new courses and applied opportunities for the master’s program. Lastly, I love the school’s location! I grew up in New Jersey and lived in New York and Washington, D.C., so Westminster, Maryland brings me a lot closer to my family.
What was the interview process like?
As is typical with academic positions, the on-campus interview was two days long. On the first day I was shown around the town of Westminster to get a feel for the school’s location. I was able to ask any questions that I had about the position, the college, the surrounding community, etc. I also had dinner with the Kinesiology faculty that evening. The second day started with a campus tour, followed by a series of many 1:1 interviews with various people (e.g., Human Resources, Dean of the Faculty, Provost, Faulty Affairs, Department Chair) and lunch with a few Kinesiology students. The second day concluded with a teaching demonstration and research talk, followed by an interview with the entire Search Committee.
How did it feel to receive your job offer?
My initial reaction was excitement. I was also relieved that I had a plan for my future! There are a lot of elements in the academic job search that are entirely out of the applicant’s control, so I was thrilled to see things work in my favor.