Catherine burgess BSc psychology Alumnus Case Study 2018

Catherine Burgess

Studying psychology at the University of Leeds was, without doubt, the best decision I ever made. Like most students, I entered the degree programme with little idea of the exact career path I wished to follow; however, attending the many talks hosted by the psychology department allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the different careers available. Furthermore, the support I received from staff in the psychology department was second to none throughout my degree, and it even continues today. During my second year at Leeds, I undertook two Research Experience Scheme for Undergraduate Student projects, gaining additional research experience in the area of clinical health psychology.

This experience was invaluable to me in guiding my career decisions, and also when I went on to do my Masters degree. Alongside research experience, I volunteered with a number of charities outside university, I worked part-time for the university during my third year, and I was the School academic student Representative for the psychology department; winning a University of Leeds and Leeds University Union Partnership Award for my efforts in this role.

The voluntary experiences, within and outside the psychology department, enabled me to work in the community and with vulnerable individuals, and to build good relationships with staff across the university. Following my graduation from Leeds, I went on to complete an 11 month voluntary psychology internship with the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology in Leeds, and I obtained a distinction on the MSc Health Psychology course at Staffordshire University.

Since then, I have gained further voluntary work experience during a three month psychology placement in Sri Lanka; working with adults and children with disabilities and mental health problems. On my return, I began looking for work in the field of mental health. I now work as a mental health support worker in a medium-secure forensic unit for adolescent males, and I am working towards a career in clinical psychology in the future. In the meantime, I am able to continue to work with staff from Leeds and Staffordshire universities on academic work that I completed as part of my MSc course. The prospect of publishing work with the staff who encouraged me throughout both of my degree programmes is not only exciting for me, it is a privilege.