Now that my MSc has finished (I graduated with a Merit btw), the real fight officially begins. It’s crazy because you’d think doing a Masters means you’ve ‘made it’. Definitely not!
I knew that my next challenge would be to find a new job. I no longer wanted to work as a Teaching Assistant. I’ve noticed that once I am over a situation, I can’t put energy into it. This is in relation to everything lol, and I started to feel this way about my job before Summer (June 2017). I knew I had gained so much experience from my workplace, in particular gaining valuable experience working with children who had learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It was time for me to take this experience and put it into something new, in this case, a new job. I had it all figured out in my head: I would finish uni in September (2017), get a new job in October, work for a year, get a new job once my contract ends, apply and get onto the doctorate (1st time around lol). Although it is really good to plan and be organised (especially within the world of clinical psychology), it just doesn’t happen that way.
I soon began to realise this after my first Research Assistant (RA) interview in August (2017). The whole interview process was a great experience, but unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I asked for feedback, as I really wanted to know where I went wrong. They said they loved me, they knew I had prepped for the interview, I had answered all Q’s correctly, and had a good energy about me, but someone had more experience than me. As aspiring psychologists, or for anyone trying to get a specific role, it is SO important to get feedback, especially if you are unsuccessful from an interview. This will give you areas to focus on and for you to apply such changes in your preparations for future interviews. What was even worse about this specific interview, I was working for them (part-time & unpaid) at that particular time. So, you can only imagine the pain and frustration I was feeling. The interview was a panel of 5; they knew me before the interview, they knew what I was capable of, and they were aware of my academic and professional background before the interview – And I STILL did not get the job. At this point, nothing was going to plan.
I met with my personal tutor to ‘vent’ lol. She explained that I would probably get a new job within the next 4-6 months. First of all, I was confused because I can’t wait 4-6 months. I thought she was ‘pulling my leg’ lol but then her facial expression remained the same, and I realised she was serious for real lol. She also explained that most services are looking for those with a range of skills and experiences. Even though I had gained good experience, it is not enough. She began to describe the competition I would face once I start applying, and it quickly sunk in how hard this next hurdle will be. Of course, it would be amazing to get a new job before then. But the harsh reality is that I may just have to wait 4-6 months until getting a new job. I left her office feeling really down. “Why can’t somebody give me a chance”, “It’s not fair”, “What’s the point in doing an MSc if I can’t get a job straight away”. My ‘plan of life’ was not working out how I wanted it to be, and I had to accept the fact that I may have to go into work full time until this supposedly new job comes along.
Working part-time through my MSc was really hard. My expenses were dramatically halved, and it was generally a struggle. Sacrifices had to be made during that academic year, and so I knew it was not possible to continue working part-time. Apart of me asked, “why don’t you take up extra volunteer work”. The honest truth is, I didn’t want to. I’ve worked hard to successfully gain clinical and research experience, I now need to utilise this. While finishing my dissertation over the summer, I started to work on my CV and Cover letter. I had to change everything – it was a complete mess lol. It was crucial for me to make changes during that period, as I knew I would not be motivated to focus on this once work had finished for the day.
Ny Tips: As an aspiring psychologist, one of the first lessons I learnt during my MSc is that everyone’s journey is different. I think it is imperative for us to understand that what may take someone 2 months to get an Assistant Psychologist (AP) job, could take you 5 months or longer – And that is okay! Or, you could be really lucky and get an AP post first time around 🙂 There is absolutely no rush whatsoever, it’s all about enjoying the process, creating new experiences, and growing mentally as a psychologist. Towards the ending of October (2017), I found out that 3 people from my MSc course got AP posts. I started to feel the pressure from this point forward – When you are up against those who have tons of AP experience, getting such a role is extremely hard, let alone getting an interview.
My first advice is to try to remain patient and confident about the journey. Secondly, be open to the idea of applying for other roles you can gain clinical experience from. I solely focused on AP and RA jobs for 3 months straight. I was getting interviews, but I was not successful. I needed to be open to the idea that I may have to gain more experience until I could finally become successful securing an AP post. I started to branch out into other roles, such as a clinical support worker and began to receive a lot of interview dates. Lastly, I know the job search can become quite tedious and mentally draining, but try to stay motivated and enthusiastic about the idea of becoming a clinical psychologist. The field is so competitive yet so rewarding!
Once you’ve done the necessary steps, you are more than qualified for the job, it’s just a matter of when!