After I realised three students from my MSc course were successful with Assistant Psychologists (AP) posts in October (2017), this gave me the ultimate push to start applying for AP jobs. Even though I was mentally done with my current job, I wanted to work for a month without reading, writing or typing. The MSc course drained my soul (literally), and I had a mental block. I submitted my dissertation the month before, and so I wanted to chill and relaxed.
During the half-term school break of October, I literally went ham on the applications. I was only interested in AP’s and Research Assistants (RA’s) roles, and so I solely focused on applying for them both. I made A LOT of changes to my CV and Cover Letter to make it more ‘psychologists like’. You’re probably thinking what does that mean? Basically, I had to erase all my retail experience (I worked in so many retail stores lol) and switch it up with clinical/research experience I had gained within the last 5 years, including my Teaching Assistant role. Both my CV and Cover Letter had a complete makeover, and I felt really confident from this point forward to apply for jobs.
I think I applied for approximately 20 jobs, and received a lot of “Thanks for applying” emails rather than “We love you, here’s an interview date”. I was slowly becoming inpatient, checking my emails constantly and applying for more jobs… UNTIL I got that interview email!! I was so happy! I then received another “Interview email” for a Clinical Support Worker (CSW). Both interviews were on the same day (imagine that lol), but I was not allowed to change my interview dates (first come first serve). This particular CSW role specialised in working with vulnerable children and adolescents experiencing complex mental health difficulties. I felt as though CSW interviews were easy to come by, and so I decided to go for the AP interview and declined the CSW. I had never gone to an AP interview before, and I was quite scared because I knew my interview preparations had to be immaculate. It doesn’t matter how much you prep for an interview, you never know what trick they may pull out the bag. It was important for me to research:
- The type of service they offer.
- Factual statistics on the type of illness individuals are presenting with (In this case, it was an AP role working with individuals experiencing psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations).
- The type of client group they work with.
- What my daily tasks would consist of.
- The skills and the experience needed for the role.
I also had to do an SPSS task (If you know about SPSS, then you know how complex and difficult this software is. Unless you are weird and enjoy it lol).
I was unsuccessful, but I was not majorly upset as I had another AP interview lined up. The panellists were all lovely and gave me feedback on why they had picked someone else. It was my first AP interview, and although the outcome was not positive, I was very grateful for the opportunity. The interview gave me a little more confidence for the next one. Honestly speaking, the next interview connected with me so well! This particular AP role supported clinical psychologists with improving emotional well-being and resilience in primary school children in Southwark. I was so intrigued about this role, especially as I have lived in Southwark all my life, and noticed that there are hardly any mental health workshops in primary education (even when I was growing up). I really wanted this job and thought to myself “if I get this job, this is me sorted!”.
The interview went well in the sense that I had answered all questions, I was able to articulate myself well, but I was unable to finish the practical test. I was unsuccessful yet again, and when I received my feedback, they said exactly that. I was gutted, and so upset. I think I gave myself a day to sulk lol, but knew I had to get back on the job search.
I was applying for more AP/RA roles and was constantly checking my emails for responses. I now started to apply for CSW roles, with the hopes of getting another interview. In total, I had turned down 3 interview dates for CSW roles. “Maybe if I had gone to the interviews I declined, I might have been successful?” Who knows, but without having to dwell on the past, it was important for me to lower my expectations and try to be open-minded. Open minded to the idea of applying for roles other than a AP/RA. Being open-minded to the idea that AP/RA roles may not be for me just yet, and I’m I willing to accept this? I was so fixated on the idea of only working as an AP/RA after my MSc, that I shut down other relevant roles that could still give me the opportunity to gain clinical experience. I think I mentioned before how important it is as aspiring psychologists to not be too organised in regards to how you want your journey to be – because 9 out of 10 times, it doesn’t happen this way, and that that is okay. It was at this point I had to let go of the idea of being an Assistant psychologist, and be open and accepting of different roles which are equally good.
I didn’t realise how hard it would be to get a new job, especially as I’ve got the necessary qualifications and experience. One thing I realised, is that within this line of work, you really need to have patience. Nothing comes straight away and you just have to mentally prepare yourself for the continuous job searching and unsuccessful interviews – you become more resilient.
Each interview allowed me to be more strong, confident, less nervous and more creative in the way I presented myself.
I knew it would be a matter of time until I get the job.