For students hoping to have a career in psychology, knowing how to get there can be a daunting experience.
I attended the Psychology Alumni & Industry Mixer event at the University of Salford recently. Three professionals offered their advice to current undergraduates and postgraduates from the School of Health Sciences.
Dr Sarah Elison, Research Director of Breaking Free Group, Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK and director of mental health at Big Life Group and Dawn Smail, BSc and MSc Psychology graduate from the University of Salford, all spoke to the audience. I’ve rounded up their top tips for a career in the industry and put together some advice for budding psychologists.
Take whatever work experience you can in a range of areas
Psychology can be a very broad area, and so gaining experience within different aspects of it is a great idea. From user testing to mental health to virtual reality, there is something to suit everyone. Psychology can also be applied to a vast amount of subjects and concepts. Never be afraid to use your knowledge where you can.
Have more confidence
This a piece of advice that can be relevant for anyone at any age. With psychology however, it can be difficult to get your head around certain theories and approaches. Being reminded to have faith in your own abilities is a useful tip. If you are confident, then saying yes to more opportunities will be easier.
Follow key organisations on social media and be aware of key issues
Following relevant organisations on social media is a good way to know what people are talking about and what issues are topical. Twitter accounts such as @AnxietyUK, @actionhappiness, @PsychToday and @psychological are all good ones to look at. It is also worth regularly searching the #psychology hashtag. You could also check out the University of Salford Health Sciences and Media Psychology accounts and pages.
Be honest and open about any lived experience
Nicky Lidbetter of Anxiety UK notes that she believes having experience of mental health makes you very well placed to help others. She urges people who want to work in the industry not to shy away from anything in their own lives that may help them to understand others. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Alternatively, helping someone else through an issue is just as relevant.
Having an interest and making an effort to be aware of others is a good start in the psychology industry. Networking and getting to know a range of people is always helpful as you never know what opportunities could arise from it. Introduce yourself, attend events and conferences and listen to key speakers talking about their research. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with organisations who may be able to offer you advice or work.
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