"Without my placement year, I wouldn’t have found a job related to my career goals so soon after university."
Janelle Chisholm, BSc Psychology (with placement year) graduate, now a trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner studying at University of East Anglia.
I ended up applying through Clearing and chose Essex as it was a university that offered psychology but also offered year abroad and placement options. I spoke to someone over the phone who was very welcoming and provided a lot of information about the university that helped me make my decision.
I enjoyed the fact that the university it a lot smaller than others. This means you are more able to form relationships with educators and lecturers, which makes it easier to approach them when you are finding something difficult. Our lecturers work on research related to what we study, so I was being taught by people who are enthusiastic about what they are teaching and made the topics really engaging.
I decided to do a placement year, which I would say was one of the most important and beneficial things I did at Essex. It helped shaped my views of mental health services in this country and understand the different options I had in working in that space. It also helped me understand what life after university would be like.
I reference my placement year all the time when applying for jobs. I am sure that without my placement year, I wouldn’t have found a job related to my career goals so soon after university and I wouldn’t have had an idea as to where I should start applying and what I could do in the meantime to boost my career.
Before I graduated, I knew I wanted to work in mental health and possibly pursue a career in clinical psychology. In September 2020 I accepted a job as a mental health support worker working in an in-patient private hospital which treated women with eating and personality disorders.
My role focused on supporting patients throughout the day. This could involve sitting with them during their meals and using distraction techniques, such as talking to them, to help them remain calm during difficult times at their meals. I would interact with patients by playing games to help pass the time, and did a lot of paperwork relating to the ward.
I found that I really enjoyed talking to the patients, they were all very funny and engaging despite the difficult circumstance they found themselves in. It was nice to form bonds with them and understand their disorder more so I could better help and support them throughout the day. Although this job was intensive, I found the role extremely enjoyable and rewarding.
In March 2021 I decided to take a step forward in my career. I am now a trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) which means I will be working with service users with mild/moderate anxiety and depression by using evidence-based CBT interventions. I hope to complete the course and become a qualified PWP and possibly work towards either being a CBT therapist or possibly go down the Clinical doctorate route.
My advice to students is to take every opportunity that comes your way! My degree taught me how to understand human behaviour, which is useful when working with people, and the opportunities I took whilst at Essex really helped me boost my confidence in my abilities and my CV.