The best advice I could give students is to volunteer

Psychology graduate Dani, shares about her current role as an Assistant Psychologist and highlights the value of gaining experience, both in demonstrating your skills to future employers and also in deciding on a career path.

Dani Mounfield at Graduation

Dani Mounfield at Graduation in 2015

“Since graduating, in 2015, I worked for a few months at a residential facility for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Learning Disabilities before getting my current role.

I currently work for Chrysalis Associates (www.chrysalisassociates.org), a private company who offer therapy for children with attachment and trauma difficulties. As an Assistant Psychologist I complete assessments of the children, both pre and post therapy, looking into their attachment and trauma symptoms, as well as their behavioural difficulties and receptive vocabulary. Additionally I oversee childcare sessions, which requires me to ensure the children are as calm and regulated as possible; this can range from just one child to multiple at one time.

During University I took the Work Placement Module, where I worked for South Yorkshire Fire Departments Youth Service. I also completed a two day Mental Health First Aid Training course, which I would highly recommend, and training at Doncaster Prison, with the charity Catch 22. However most importantly I volunteered for around two years with my current employer, Chrysalis Associates, where my role was solely data entry. Arguably this volunteering was the most important factor in gaining my current job. Without my previous contact with Chrysalis Associates they wouldn’t have contacted me again to offer me an interview, which ultimately got me the job. Before the interview I read through all the reflection notes I had made whilst volunteering, this consisted of all the tasks I had completed and my thoughts and considerations of my time there. I also went through any notes and lecture slides I had from University that were relevant to the job role; additional to this I researched online, looking at what current literature was revealing about children with attachment and trauma difficulties.

In my job I use lots of skills that I learnt in University every single day, from my confidence and people skills to those more specific to psychology; report writing and data analysis. When thinking about my future I am hoping to get one of the very competitive places on a Clinical Psychology Doctorate. However until I can secure one of these places I am trying to build up my CV, with both paid and volunteer work.

The best advice I could give to current students is to volunteer; these days’ employers want you to not only finish university with a good grade, but also show that you are committed to your career path. Employers want to see that you have made efforts during university to go out into the working world and start to build up your practical skills. However, volunteering is also beneficial for yourself, it helps you to figure out what you’d like to specialise in. For example; throughout my first and second year I was confident that my main focus was forensic psychology, however after volunteering at Chrysalis Associates and having done training in Doncaster Prison, I realised that I was more interested and passionate about a clinical psychology career path.”