SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3)

Before you read this post, make sure you have already read Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 1) and (Part 2)!!

Image credit:
After obtaining the knowledge about yourself (Step 1) and your choice of career (Step 2) (from Part 2), the next step is to start working towards getting that job or being in that career.

Step 3: Getting Focused

From Step 2, it allows you to have some form of a goal.  Step 3 is for you to get focused and set you up towards that goal.  There are several things that you can do for Step 3, and here it is in this sequence.
  1. Decision making:  You just have to ask yourself this question. Are you passionate enough (or have enough interest in this career) such that you will not give up in times of difficulties??  Sometimes reality and life difficulties may hold us back in our paths and journeys towards our goals.
  2. Goals or milestones:  Having a goal will help in "starting the engine" towards your goals.  Your goals may be "to become a psychologist', "to do a Masters postgraduate degree" or even "to finish your Bachelors undergraduate degree".   Having milestones allow you to have toa ssess whether you are on-track towards reaching that final goal;  they may also act as smaller and easier goals that you can work on towards that larger final goal.
  3. Action planning towards the goals:  Once you are confirmed on the goals and determined that you are willing to work at it till the very end, the next thing is to decide how you are going to reach that goal.  What are the things you are willing to do such that you know that you are working towards your goals or milestones?  Step 4 provides you with these things that you can do.

Step 4: Taking Action

I have stated previously some things that you can do or may be already be doing to help your career (See 5 Things Students can do during the Holidays).  They include volunteering, doing internships, attending talks, as well as network with professionals working in the psychological field.

There are actually several other things you can do (or learn to do) to create your personal career brand:
  • Job search and interviewing strategies:  These include learning how to do tasks like:-
    • Writing a good resume and CV (where your talents and strengths are reflected)
      •   Your resume that employers may be researching about you can be a hardcopy print version or an online version.  As such are your LinkedIn profile, your personal online portfolio, or even your Facebook account.  It is very obvious that some employers research on the job applicants online, so make sure you manage your online profile and resume well!
    • Being ready for interviews
      • Make sure you are well-prepared for upcoming interviews, by keeping yourself informed on several things, such as knowing details about the company (company culture and history), the actual job (what it entails and what skills and abilities are required for it), and common types of questions that employers may ask.  Here are some common interview questions and tips to tackle the questions from Forbes and The Daily Muse!!
    • Be ready to ask some questions
      • Do not only ask questions about the salary.  Also do not say that you do not have any questions;  this may imply to the employers that you do not know anything or are not interested about the company.
      • Always ask questions for the purposes of (a) making sure that the employer is interested to employ you, (b) demonstrating your interest in the job, and (c) checking whether you will be a good fit into the company.  Hence your questions may be about more indepth knowledge about the skills and abilities required for the job, the career progression in the company, and the existing company culture.  Here are some questions recommended to ask.
  • Gaining work experiences through volunteering or internships: As we know that having prior experience is a huge advantage in securing a job position, but with any actual real working experience in the field, your next best chances are to get the work experiences through volunteering or internships.  Here are some websites or companies that you can go through to try to apply to volunteer or get internship.
  • Networking (including both social and online):  Networking is very useful for many reasons.  Below are the purposes and reasons of networking (from Power of Networking)
    • Employment / business opportunities - You never know; you might just find your next boss / customer just by talking to them. 
    • Opportunities to knowing new associates from similar or different fields - Support for your clients often tend to be holistic, rather just from the psychologist (yourself); hence often, you may need the help or support from others from a similar or different line of work, such as psychiatrists, doctors, lawyers, etc.
    • Research opportunities - Through knowing others in the similar field or area of research, this may open up your chances of working with others in research projects in your area of research.
    • Social networking - Just purely for the reasons for making friends and acquaintances in psychology and your psychological speciality/area of research. 

Here's a quote to end off this series of Career Planning posts!!  Hope you have liked this whole work of career-related posts on SG Psych Stuff Facebook page!!!
"Not everyone can find a perfect fit in the job market – Some people have to create their own."

SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 2)

After you have identified your KSAOs, the next things to identify are your strengths and weaknesses in those KSAOs.
KSAOs of a Psychologist
(Copyright of SGPsychStuff)

Of the KSAOs, which are those that you are good or great at?  Which do you lack currently?  

You have to ask yourself these honest questions.

After you have identified your strengths and weakness, it is time to do something about it!!

But how are you going to do it? 
Image credit:

Here are 4 steps to doing it!

Step 1 : Knowing Yourself

Before moving on you should know who you are as a person, and what you are good at.  This include things like your learning styles, values at work, personality traits, interests, and skills that you are done at.

Here are some links which you can use to learn to learn about yourselves.
[Credit: Some of these weblinks are provided from]

Learning Style:  VARK Questionnaire
Career Values:  Value-Sort Activity (RMIT website)
Personality Traits link 1:  Jung Type Test 
Personality Traits link 2:  IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers
Interests:  O*NET Interest Profiler
Strengths:  Motivated Skills Inventory

Step 2: Exploring Your Options

Once you understand your personality traits, interests, strengths, and values,  you should start to explore some options and do some research about the industry and the jobs available.  There are mainly three things to do:
  1. Occupational Research:  This involves doing some research on the occupation, on what it entails.  It is pretty much like finding out about the job description.  This can be done by browsing the job search sites or companies that offer jobs you are interested in.  Another reference website you can look at is  O*NET Online.
  2. Knowing the industry trends:  Knowing what is happening in the industry for the last 10 years will be beneficial in understanding whether this career is something that you would do.  I would advise that you go for career talks in your university or educational institute, and network with some professionals in the industry or the Singapore Psychological Society.  You can also learn about the trends through the different Facebook pages.
  3. Knowing your career options:  This will be useful to know the other jobs that you may be interested in.  This could be based on your personality traits, values and interests as mentioned above.  Knowing this will be beneficial if you wish to have some form of a career start or career change in a different industry, other than psychology. 

The main purpose for Steps 1 and 2 is to build up your knowledge regarding yourself and the career choice.  Once you have obtained this knowledge, you can then proceed to plan and to take action to work towards your choice of having a psychological-related career!!

To be continued.. See Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3)...

SGPsychStud + MY Psychology: Sense of Emptiness Experienced by Undergraduate Students

This is the common feeling experienced by many new undergraduate graduates.  We cannot deny that it really happens, especially for those who do not have a job upon their graduation.

This sense of emptiness may stem from the fact that they have no clue of “What is Next?”;  they might have just put their goal at the point of finishing a degree.  But, “what is next” after completing the degree?  It may be an issue for them because there are uncertainties and too much unknowns for them especially when it comes to the point whether they want to pursue their Masters postgraduate degree or enter the workplace or take a “Work & Travel” experience overseas.  Sometimes, facing uncertainties lying before them, they may choose to stay in their comfort zones and avoid thinking about what will happen after their degrees.

Perhaps, these feelings could be due to the sudden change of lifestyle.  When they graduate, they are no longer students; they are no longer tied with assignments and university life.  It has come to another stage in life where they may need to apply for job interviews.  During the period of waiting for a reply from companies, they might experience emptiness and uncertainty;  sometimes they might even doubt about their choices and always wonder whether it is the right time to go for work, whether or not they are mentally prepared for that choice.

They may feel additional pressure when their peers start moving on in different directions, resulting in them being left alone without any clue of moving forward.  At this point, they may have also realized that they have not developed a very good understanding of their own interests and abilities in psychology, hence they did not know which psychological area they should specialise in.

“Been applying for jobs, and went for some interviews.  But I've been wondering "What could have gone wrong during the interviews?"  "Why can't I get a job, why is it so difficult here in Singapore?"  (Though I know the answers to those questions, I refuse to give in & keep persisting.)
All I just want is to get a job.  A job that's related to Psychology.  I do not mind starting from scratch, but this is clearly not something that can be done overnight.
I don't wish to waste my time.  I need to be out there, doing something productive, contributing to the society.  But right now, I'm still stuck in the rut.  Troubled.  The fear of being unemployed.  What can I do?”

Here are some suggestions for recent graduates:
  1. Keep connected with seniors who have furthered their studies or entered the workplace.  Listen to their experiences so that you know what to expect if you wish to follow the similar path.
  2. Always develop a short-term goal and a long-term goal for yourself.  Share with your friends about your goal and the future self which you aspire to be.  With that, develop an action-oriented plan to move towards your goal and always assess the progress of reaching your goal.
  3. Seek help from Career Counsellor to understand your own career interest, strength and capability so that you can assess the compatibility between your skills, interests with the career fields that you are looking for.
  4. Network!  Go and meet people, and talk to them at events or conferences.  Always try to network at every opportunity possible, either with your seniors, friends, or possible future bosses and colleagues!  SGPsychStud actually got his job in Singapore through networking.  From “Power of Networking”:
“It's all about the opportunities to know new people for your own career / research prospects, as well as others to know you (which is very important as well).  With networking, it will help you to largely expand your work opportunities and network of associates.  So always make sure to get your name-cards ready before the event and their name-cards during the event.  Quite many people actually go for events and conferences not only just for the talks, but also for the chances to do networking with others.”

“The journey may be tough but never ever give up.  Tough times don't last but tough men do.  One day you'll get there.  Make the most of any opportunity you get.  Don’t always hold out for ‘the best thing’;  sometimes the best thing is not what you expect.”

SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 1)

Image Credit:

"A job is very different from a career.  A job might be something that you may change from time to time, but a career is something you do for a lifetime."

Disclaimer:  Instead of discussing about jobs, this post will be discussing about one's career development, with tips interchangeable for both one's choice of career and jobs.

To have a good (and even wonderful) career, the best way is to have a good career fit, as illustrated in the figure above.  It is a combination of having a good fit between a "right amount" of education, having good information about the jobs outside, and critical self-awareness, which requires good career planning.  I hope that through these posts, it can help to educate psychology students and graduating students to help understand themselves better and do better job research and planning, in order to have some planning for their future careers.

We must understand that the situation now is unlike the past situations of our parents' generation that having "Good grades = Having a degree = Good job / career = Good life".
From "Fear of Failures in our Journey of Studying":
Though the formula can be commonly found and proven right in some people, it does not mean that this is absolute truth and can be applied to everyone.  This is because at any point of the above formula, it can be proven wrong.  A person can have excellent grades, but may not want or need a degree to reach his/her life goal (thinking of how an engineering degree would do any good for someone who desires to be a chef).  With a degree, it does not guarantee a good career; that comes with sheer hard work in the job, with the degree probably being a good stepping stone towards getting the job at the very most.  A good career does not equate to a good life, as a good life comprises of too many other things, e.g. family, friends, etc. 
Why are so many people are complaining that they cannot find jobs (or their ideal jobs)?
There are 3 main reasons (please read Jobs Part 4 for more details):
  1. Psychology degrees are general degrees. 
  2. Lack of experience in the field.
  3. Disparity of job expectancies and salaries
With worries arising from these reasons, recent graduates may have this question:
"So which job should I choose??" "Can I even choose?"
I have actually answered this in a previous post (Jobs Part 3 from 2011).  The conclusion from that post was "It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees, and your past work experience."  Many do not know this, but only having a degree is not going to give you an edge over other competitors for that same job that everyone is applying.

Due to the above reasons, it is typical and reasonable that recent graduates have a general psychology degree, and lack of psychological-related work experience.
However, everyone is different, equipped with different skills!  
We need to know and understand our own knowledge, skills, abilities, and strengths such that we can use that to our benefit towards getting our ideal jobs.  Hence other than the general psychological knowledge that you obtain from the degree, I would advise that you obtain or have another specialty (which is based on your current interest, skills or abilities).  This will help in guiding you towards finding your ideal career!

Your Career =  Your psychological knowledge and skills + Your speciality

The next Career Planning post will guide you on the steps towards finding and taking action to get your ideal career! Read Parts 2 and 3!