So you’ve worked hard to get the results you’ve needed to get into that psychology course you’ve always wanted to enter, but...
What’s Next?For most university students, it is very easy to get caught up in the seemingly never-ending array of tasks required by the course. This leads to a cycle that doesn’t end until you’ve finally graduated, but then you suddenly realize that your psychology degree does not allow you to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing, such as a clinical psychologist or educational psychologist or counsellor? This can be a harsh reality check for many undergraduates who have been so focused on their academic pursuit during their undergraduate years that they’ve forgotten to plan for their future careers. Not fully convinced? Here are a few reasons why it’s useful to start planning your career as a psychology undergraduate:
1. Many specialist psychology fields require a postgraduate degree
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To be recognized a practicing psychologist within most fields (the exception being perhaps organizational psychology, although in most cases you still need a postgraduate degree, but this differs from company to company), you need at least a master’s degree or in some cases (e.g., lecturing at the university level) a doctoral degree. This means a minimum of 2 to 3 years of waiting and studying before you are able to start practicing in those respective fields. Given that most fresh university graduates have little to no practical experience in these fields, it would be even more challenging for one to be able to find a job, even if it was an entry level position, to do a job related to the field they wish to pursue (e.g., research assistant or associate psychologist).
2. Tougher Competition
Increasingly, the amount of people with the basic qualifications and who possess the same knowledge as you is constantly getting larger, but the amount of available positions in postgraduate courses and psychology related jobs remains the same. This leads to a situation where if everyone knows the same things and has the same amount of experience; how are potential schools/employers going to assess the best candidate or candidates for the limited positions available? The answer may seem obvious, but as harsh and unfair as it may be, sometimes it boils down to the people you know.
Often people assume that knowing people helps you to win a position because of that person’s influence within the field you are preparing to enter, and this may be the case sometimes, but in general, having someone in the field vouch for you shows the effort you’ve made above and beyond just ensuring you attain the minimum requirements for entry into it. It shows potential schools/employers that this is an individual who has long known what they’ve wanted to do and is someone who has taken the required actions to increase their chances at doing so.
3. Networks Do Not Form Overnight
Lastly, and perhaps mostly importantly, networks do not form as quickly and easily as most people think they do. A professional network is very similar to a social one, it requires effort and commitment to growing it. This can be especially tedious for undergraduates who may already be struggling to balance their academic and social commitments. But just like any other network, people will not remember or consider you a part of their network if you do not make the effort to be part of it. At this point, some of you may be thinking: "So what if I don’t have an active professional network during my undergraduate years?" The answer is pretty straightforward and is directly related to the second point. Having a professional network allows you to meet and learn from people who are already in the field you wish to join. This allows you to get a behind-the-scenes look at the field and to know how best to increase your chances of becoming part of it.
Stay tuned to the next segment:
3 Ways of Carving Your Psychology Career during University!