AgeLab Technical Associate Taylor Patskanick participated in a virtual panel hosted by the Boston College School of Social Work for social work students and graduates interested in careers in aging. Patskanick was one of several professionals who spoke about her work at the AgeLab and what job seekers should expect from the field during COVID-19.
Patskanick discussed working in an interdisciplinary environment at the AgeLab, collaborating with psychologists, engineers, computer scientists, and designers. She noted the importance of being aware of the particular value-add she brings as one of two social workers on a multi-faceted research team. The AgeLab, she said, focuses on understanding issues and phenomena related to aging, but is more broadly concerned with understanding the experiences of people of all ages—from how the “oldest old” are aging today to how younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, expect to age.
Speaking about the prospects for emerging professionals seeking careers in aging, Patskanick cautioned that COVID-19 and its impacts would likely influence their early career path. “The timing may not be what you expect, and your first post-grad job may not be your dream job,” she said. Collectively, she said, the U.S. is currently closer to the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – closer to subsistence than to aspiration. But even if a professional’s first job is not exactly what they envisioned, “it will teach you something,” Patskanick said. “And given what we know about longevity, it will also be a part of what’s going to be a lifelong career of working and learning.”