It’s that time of year when students are about to embark on new ventures and discoveries in university. For some, this experience will be the first of its kind for them, for others, this will be a second attempt, for some, it will be a jump into the unknown as they take on a postgraduate degree that they’re not completely sure they can manage. At one time or another, I have been all three of these examples. In my undergraduate degree, I embarked on a social sciences course, I came back to try my hand at psychology and currently I am enrolled in a counselling psychology doctoral programme. The journey is long, demanding and requires a great amount of fortitude, resilience and dedication. As I will always say though, it is worth it. I love psychology, I love what I do and for those of you starting out on your journey in psychology I wish you all the best and hope you find a passion in this wonderful area of work and research. For those of you developing in masters or doctoral programmes in psychology, perhaps you have found your passion and have realised that psychology can be a pathway to a rewarding career. Either way, I hope these 3 tips for those of you conducting or starting your post-graduate degrees in psychology will be helpful:
- Organisation is vital, being able to stay on top of placement, studies, classes, work and family life is a juggling act that you can’t guess your way through, you need to be organised with it. I cannot stress the importance of having a daily diary in this case. Plan out your day the night before and structure when you are going to do what. Maybe you have a reflective essay due in a month, but at the same time, you need to be at placement and contact a tutor about some questions you have over your lecture notes last week. Stay on top of organising your days and weeks, don’t just hope these things will get done, plan them!
- The ability to show initiative is a skill that I have realised, from experience and observation, not many students possess. Yes, degrees are taxing, and postgraduate degrees are very taxing, but if you can plan ahead and take advantage of opportunities then you put yourself in an incredible position for development, both academically and professionally. This could come in the form of starting essays early, even essays you have due six months away, if you have the time now then use it, you’ll realise how valuable that time is later down the road. For example, you may know that you can’t start placement until later in the year, once you are cleared by your university. However, perhaps you could contact some placement providers, inform them you won’t be able to start until later in the year, but ask if they would consider you for placement. This, in turn, could lead to you having a placement a soon as you are cleared, whilst others only start the process after their university allows them to begin placement.
if you have the time now then use it, you’ll realise how valuable that time is later down the road
- Self-care comes in many different forms and may look totally different from one person to the next. Setting time aside each day to do something that assists you looking after yourself in a postgraduate psychology degree is imperative. For some this might be chatting to a friend, it might be meditation, it might be reading (if you can stomach more of it). For me, self-care means contrast. In my studies and work, I do a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, a lot of analysis, and try to show as much compassion and empathy as I can. In contrast, I like to take time out to go to the gym and release all the tension I experience throughout the day with a lifting session. As I say, self-care may look totally different than this to you, this might be your idea of torture. Whatever your way of taking care of yourself looks like, make an effort to partake in it.