Joel Harratt, Alumni, School of Psychology

Joel Harratt

I took a bit of an odd route after leaving University. During my final year I was quite focussed on getting onto a 'graduate scheme' with a large employer, the springboard and salary these jobs offered were quite attractive at the time and I wasn't too concerned with what field it was in, luckily Psychology was quite transferable to a number of disciplines and it allowed me some flexibility. I ended up on a graduate scheme with Asda at their head office in Leeds working with technology, something I'd always been interested in, and during my last two years at University, I also interned with Apple which helped me in applying for a technology role. 

I spent about 6 years with Asda and had some great experiences and a lot of international travel for work, but it never felt 'right'! I became a little disenfranchised with large corporates and endless games of email ping-pong, so I decided to try a few other things out. I started a small coffee roastery from my parent's garage, selling online and to offices in Leeds, and also joined West Yorkshire Police as a Special Constable (one of the best decisions I've made, even made an appearance on TV's Traffic Cops!). I eventually decided to try a different organisation and workplace culture so I moved to Sky's digital team at Leeds Dock, working within their app development function and looking after a team of business analysts. I loved this job! The workplace culture and can-do attitude was brilliant, we launched an app which for a brief time made it to number one on Apple's App Store. I also managed to put knowledge from my degree into practice as we did a lot of user research here and the Psychology of Design modules definitely helped! 

Like Asda though, I began to feel like I wanted to try something else entirely, and one day after another sardine-esque commute when coming home from work I noticed a shop in the village I live in was soon to be vacant as the owner was retiring, and I decided to put my name down at the estate agent! A few months later I had the keys and after 6 months of renovation we opened up as a coffee bar, art gallery and eco shop, pulling together a few different things I was passionate about.

I owe a lot to my degree, without a doubt I don't think I'd have got to where I am now without it. Practically it's helped me in all my jobs, from critiquing research and business cases (statistics!) at Asda to helping to conduct user testing and research at Sky. But importantly it helped me get into these roles and provided the right grounding from a research and experiment perspective to critically appraise projects, business cases, etc in the workplace

If I could, the advice I would give to myself now whilst I was studying would try as many things out at University as you can, there are so many societies, extracurricular activities, and flexible jobs you could take up. Depending on what you want to do after graduating, you may find yourself at an interview or assessment centre for a job with 10, 20 other recent graduates, what will set you apart from peers is what else you did and your other experiences you gained whilst at University. I used to interview graduates and this was what set the best candidates apart. 

Don't worry too much about getting onto a 'graduate' scheme or job, just find something you enjoy doing and go after it. Over the course of your life, you'll have ample time to make as much money as you want but your time is finite and will run out one day, so make sure you spend it doing something you enjoy, not something you think you should enjoy.