Early Career Profile: Julia Ogg

What are your current position and responsibilities?
I am an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, which is a Research One University.  I have a 2-2 teaching load, but have been fortunate to typically teach one didactic course per semester and one practicum supervision course. I occasionally have two didactic courses and a practicum course.  In my second and third year at USF, I also had a course release to complete 2000 postdoctoral clinical hours through USF Pediatrics where I provided direct clinical services to children and families. A majority of my service thus far has been within my program (e.g., admissions, portfolio review, etc.) or within the profession (primarily through editorial boards).  The senior colleagues in my program have been very helpful in protecting me from department, college, and university service during my tenure-earning years.
What are your primary research interests and activities?
My research interests focus on children at-risk for school failure, particularly those who exhibit problematic externalizing behaviors, including children diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, as well as children without a diagnosis, but who present with challenging behaviors. Children with ADHD and externalizing or challenging behaviors are at risk for a host of negative academic and social outcomes and untreated these disorders can result in significant societal costs such as early school dropout, juvenile delinquency, and family dysfunction. My goal as a researcher is to better understand the needs of this population especially within educational settings, to identify malleable targets of intervention that can be focused in on in order to prevent more serious and long-term outcomes from occurring, and ultimately to develop an intervention program that can best meet the needs of this population and promote positive outcomes and resiliency. These goals align directly with my research activities which can be organized into three inter-related strands: a.) ADHD in the schools, b.) prevention and early identification of challenging externalizing behaviors, and c.) development and implementation of parent training interventions to address challenging behaviors in at-risk students. Since starting at USF, I have been involved in a number of data collection efforts to advance my research.  At this point, I have focused primarily on my first two goals, and much of my work has been survey research with students, their teachers, and their parents.
How did your training/prior experiences prepare you for your current position? Were you mentored for an academic career?
I did not decide to go into academia until my internship year of graduate school.  I believe if I had known sooner, I could have prepared better.  As far as experiences that helped prepare me for my current position, there were several that I would identify as the most important:

  • First, attending a university that was similar in terms of having an Ed.S. and Ph.D. program, being APA accredited, being a Research One university, etc. was helpful in understanding the role and having a vision of what the day-to-day activities may look like.
  • All of the research experiences I had, both volunteer and paid positions, were critical.  In particular, having opportunities to be involved in research in a leadership capacity (e.g., being a point person for data collection, etc.), as well as having opportunities to write and present at conferences were very beneficial. In addition, I had several opportunities to write small grants, which was very helpful in understanding how to secure funding to advance your research.
  • Having opportunities to be exposed to faculty life was useful.  This came in a several ways for me.  First, having the opportunity to see the faculty in my graduate program going through the tenure process was very helpful, and helped demystify the process. Second, getting opportunities to meet faculty at other universities while I was in graduate school was very helpful.  My advisor was very proactive in introducing me to faculty from other institutions and this really helped humanize academia for me and also provided me with several lasting contacts.
  • For me, having an advisor who allowed me to have independence was really helpful. This forced me to develop self-discipline and good habits around writing early on, and allowed me to have more of an idea of what an academic position would be like.
  • Although each of these opportunities helped prepare me for an academic career, I would also point out that I did not start the job fully prepared.  My evolution has continued and has been shaped by additional opportunities and mentorship. Being willing to continue to grow has been a healthy way for me to look at my career versus being discouraged that I am not an expert at all things academia-related as an assistant professor.

Are there any training or mentoring experiences you wish you had early in your career?
I wish I had pursued more opportunities to write while in graduate school. I would recommend to students pursuing academic positions to get as many opportunities to practice writing and engaging in research activities as they can so they have models to draw from.  For those of you in academia who have not had as many experiences as you like, I would recommend learning from your colleagues and asking to work with them. In general, I recommend taking any opportunity to learn and further develop your skills to help you develop into the scholar that you aspire to be.
How do you balance your teaching, research and service responsibilities?
I have found that achieving a balance takes time and practice.  Generally, teaching and service have had deadlines that keep me focused. I have to frequently check to make sure that I am not overdoing it in terms of time spent on these activities.  As I have gained confidence teaching, I often notice that when I over prepare for class, I tend to not give students as much time to think and process. I personally like to spend time at the beginning of the semester plotting out what we are going to do and developing all of my materials and rubrics and then trying to limit how much time I spend preparing once the semester starts.  I also block of periods of time where I focus on completing all of my grading and preparation for the week and I try not to exceed that time. Research is the more difficult area as most deadlines have to be self-imposed.  For this reason, I have found it effective to build in structure in a variety of ways.  I set goals and make myself accountable to them.  Specifically, I have my entire research team set research goals for the period between each of our meetings (approximately 2 weeks) and then we have to announce at our meeting whether we met our goal.  I also do goal setting on a shorter term basis by setting goals like writing for X number of hours for the day.  This helps me get started. I like to plan for my week on Sunday or Monday.  I find that there are so many things competing for my attention that if I don’t take the time to plan ahead, it is easy for me to get off track for hours at a time. I also try to work with collaborators, which helps to build accountability into projects.  Letting my partners know when to expect products or scheduling meetings that I need to be prepared for help with this too.
How has mentoring or collaboration advanced your research? 
Mentoring and collaboration have been critical to all areas of my academic career. My number one piece of advice would be to learn from others through mentorship and collaboration. You need multiple mentors in a variety of areas.  For example, you may have a mentor that you go to when you are dealing with professional issues, another person’s teaching philosophy who you really respect, and yet another mentor who can give you great advice on writing with students.  These examples are ones that came to mind for me because I could quickly identify three different individuals I would talk to about these issues. Have multiple mentors! Your mentors can and should come from both within and outside of your university.
What strategies, resources, or practices contribute most to your success?
Having a plan.  I find it so important to constantly revisit my long-term goals in order to keep me on track.  Each semester, I will set a few goals (e.g., number of manuscripts submitted, data collection, etc.) and then I use these as guidance for my weekly goals.  If I find I am falling short in working toward my long term goals, I know to step up my weekly goals. 

  • Having structure in my work habits. I work a 9-5 workday in the office at least four days each week and typically one day per week at home. Each day I have a set list of what I need to accomplish that comes from my weekly to do list. This helps me both be productive and achieve balance.
  • Connecting myself with others for collaboration, mentorship, and collegiality. Academia can be a lonely job and I think connecting with others can help keep me on track professionally, as well as helping me process challenges in stride. I also have learned to love getting feedback on anything and everything. It just helps make my work more high quality.
  • Continuing to move forward even when faced with rejections or challenges. Recognizing that even the most prolific scholars and most amazing teachers face rejection letters and unhappy students helps me keep frustrations in check. Embracing the notion that failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently helps me keep going.
  • Last, I would recommend embracing strategies that work and not being afraid to get rid of those that do not work. I found that as my life circumstances changed, specifically when I had children, I had to adjust some of the strategies I was using. For example, I used to do a lot of my grading at night so I could focus on research and writing during the day; however, now that I have young children, I found that I could no longer do this effectively, so I built a block into my Fridays for grading. Try to be a data-based decision maker when it comes to the strategies you use and be willing to tweak and adjust as needed to make sure that you are staying on track.

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