Hi! I’m Gelsica, a Psychology of Education MSc student at Bristol. It was an Erasmus year spent working with young offenders in France which really ignited my passion for Psychology, and my career goal is to work in cognitive behavioural therapy with young children and adolescents.
I recently went to an online Careers in Psychology Q&A event, organised by the School of Education and the Careers Service. We heard from professional speakers working in a range of roles within Psychology, including Educational, Clinical, Counselling, Academia and Research.
Here are the key things I learned from the event, as well as some top tips from the Careers Service on starting a career in Psychology:
Be open-minded to career options within Psychology
A key message was the wide and diverse range of roles in Psychology – so if you aren’t sure where to begin, there are many options to explore.
Careers Service tips: Start with the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) career paths and Prospects What can I do with a Psychology degree? Also explore these articles on finding your calling within Psychology and alternative psychology careers.
There isn’t only one route in
There are several routes into Psychology – including a career change. One speaker began her career in recruitment before moving into mental health care – and she is about to become a Clinical Associate in Psychology (CAP).
Get creative with work experience
There are many forms of work experience in Psychology. Although Psychology Assistant roles are a good starting point, they are highly competitive – so be proactive and open-minded about other ways to gain experience. The key is that you apply Psychology within the role – as one speaker advised, it is about “following your interests” and using “your passion”.
Careers Service tip: See Prospects information on work experience options within Psychology.
Think ‘on the ground’ for clinical opportunities
‘On the ground’ healthcare positions, whether bank employees or contract workers, are an excellent way to gain relevant knowledge and experience – and they are always in demand. For example, starting as a Healthcare Assistant is ideal for gaining experience in mental health.
Careers Service tips: See the Clearing House for Postgrad Clinical Psychology’s advice on work experience for clinical psychology.
Look broadly for educational experience
Any experience in an educational setting is valuable for educational Psychology – e.g. working as a teaching assistant, youth worker, or volunteering with an educational charity.
Recognise the value of volunteering
Volunteering in your field of interest is a great way to gain relevant experience and build your CV – e.g. one speaker recommended volunteering in research laboratories that work with babies.
Careers Service tips: Volunteer for the NHS (filter by ‘volunteering’ in advance search options), or search for voluntary opportunities on myopportunities and CharityJob. Prospects’ advice on finding volunteering experience is also helpful.
Give yourself a head start for academia
If you are considering a career in academia – why not speak to your supervisor about the possibility of your master’s or final year research project being published? There are also opportunities to publish your research through the Bristol Institute of Learning and Teaching (BILT).
Careers Service tip: Read the BPS academic, research and teaching career information. Also consider writing for the BPS student publication, Psych Talk.
Speak to people for advice
Seek out ways to interact with people working in your field of interest – several speakers mentioned opportunities gained through their network. Consider who you know – peers, lecturers, supervisors, friends, family – and seize opportunities to build on this.
Careers Service tip: Read our guide to LinkedIn for advice on online networking and use Bristol Connects to connect with Bristol alumni. The BPS student membership gives you access to BPS events and their professional network. Also use Eventbrite and Meetup to find events.
Last but not least – the Bristol PLUS Award
Attending this event counted towards my Bristol PLUS Award. If you haven’t considered the Award and will be studying next year, I highly recommend it – it’s helped me to meet new people, improve my leadership skills and increase my understanding of careers in Psychology. To maximise your time at university, join the amazing Bristol PLUS Award community!
You can view the recording of the panel question-and-answer session and also access the event slides (including resource links) to find out more about the speakers.