- Course: Psychology BSc
Like many other students at university, I initially had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. All I knew for certain was that I loved Forensic Psychology, and that doing a Year in Industry would benefit me greatly in the long-term. Luckily, if you find yourself in the same situation as me, clueless as to what you want to do, the Psychology department and the Careers Centre have got your back! They run career events throughout the academic year, many of which include talks from psychologists who work in a range of different areas. These events are brilliant for answering the endless questions you may have, meeting the guest speakers and giving you a general sense of whether a career might be suited to you or not.
After attending many of these events, I decided to try and get some experience in a Forensic setting, (e.g. prisons and mental health institutions). For me finding a placement was the hardest part of the process, although this may differ depending on the area you want to work in. I sent about 50 e-mails to different Forensic establishments; I received very few replies, none of which were positive. This is when the Psychology department came to the rescue by advertising the Clinical Psychology placement at St. James’s Hospital. Several weeks after completing the application form, I was invited for an interview – I was simultaneously filled with happiness and fear. I was delighted to have been selected for an interview, but also realised that I had very little interview experience. However, the Careers Centre were on hand to help, offering mock interviews and guidance on the types of questions that may be asked. Several weeks after my interview, I received a phone call to inform me that I had been successful, and would be starting in September!
Within my placement, I am working with Clinical Psychologists from several different areas, including Cystic Fibrosis, Renal, Pain Management, and Oncology. The psychologists develop research projects that they wanted to carry out, and my role is to assist with these projects doing literature searches, data analysis etc. An example of one of my projects in Pain Management was to conduct the statistical analyses for the results section of a poster presentation for a British Psychological Society (BPS) conference. I feel that these projects are helping me build on my existing skills whist also developing new ones by working in areas that are completely new to me. Although this wasn’t initially my preferred choice for the Year in Industry, now that I have been working at St. James’s for 3 months, I couldn’t be happier with my placement or the people I work with!
My experience so far has helped me realise that whatever placement or work you’re doing, you will be making a huge contribution to your establishment and they will really appreciate your help. The knowledge and experience you will gain of the subject area you’re working in, as well as the general working environment, will give you a huge advantage over other students who haven’t completed a placement year! It will make you realise your strengths and weaknesses, and understand how you can adapt these for use in many different situations.
One of the most important things I have learnt from my placement is to get involved with anything and everything, get as much out of it as possible, and most of all... just enjoy yourself!