Ok, so you got your psychology degree or your just about to, now what do you do? What are your options? What direction should you go? So many questions but at times it can be difficult to know what is best without a doubt!
Well, there are a number of options, but often it can be really confusing and challenging to know what to do.
My own experiences
I know the feeling many have all too well. I struggled often to know what I was going to do with my degree. At first, I did an undergraduate degree in social sciences that I struggled my way through.
I just managed to get enough grades in high school to get onto the degree, but when I had finished, I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do.
I was lucky enough to have had a couple of psychology modules through my first degree that were really the only ones I enjoyed. Also, after completing my degree in social sciences I conducted a therapy course that started me on my path to psychology and counselling psychology in particular.
I was fortunate because when I started my next degree which was a graduate diploma in psychology, I knew what I wanted to do, I had the goal of one day becoming a counselling psychologist
I had a purpose and direction, but I know not everyone has this. Even when people finish their degrees, things can still seem blurry and uncertain.
With a broad degree like psychology, it can be even harder to know what to do next.
With this live understanding and coming to the end of my training, I have some understanding and some personal experience that might help people get some direction after completing their psychology degree.
What options are there?
So, first question first, what exactly are the options?
Well, I’m sure you are aware that there is a very low percentage of people that go into professional psychology after their degree
Why is that though?
I think one of the biggest things is that if you want to pursue a career in psychology then further studies are required.
This can be difficult to accept for people that have just come through a four-year degree, realising that they could have a minimum of another three years fo university studies ahead of them to become a psychologist can be a daunting prospect.
I also think the issue and difficulty is a little bigger than this too. We still as a society are unsure as to what psychology is really all about. I think there is still this abstract nature or abstract understanding about psychology, both by graduates and the general public.
If we don’t fully understand it then we are more likely to just ignore it or not pursue it. We need to change this!
What if you don’t want a career in psychology?
There are of course numerous options still available for those with a psychology degree that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology
One of the most sought after jobs is teaching
Psychology is still a brilliant degree to take you onto teacher training and can be a really desirable degree for employers and educational bodies.
Your understanding of people and the ability to work with them will result from your psychology degree, and teaching wants more people like that.
HR work is also a good option for those that don’t want to pursue a career in psychology.
Human resources often look for people with psychology backgrounds, much like those employing teachers.
Your ability to understand, relate to and Interact with people will be evident through your psychology degree.
I think this really speaks to the overall value of a psychology degree. A psychology degree is more than just learning theory or understanding models, its actually learning about human behaviour, peoples mindsets and gives you unique abilities to relate to and work with people.
You should always remember this when going for any job with your psychology degree. I very much believe that psychology graduates are in a valuable and unique position with this.
There are of course other profession options available for psychology graduates
Things such as working in health care, working in the police or even advocacy work and politics.
What if you want a career in psychology?
However, what if you do want to develop your career in psychology though? What do you do next?
Well first you need to think about what type of psychology you want to do and why
Counselling, educational, clinical, occupations, health sports and exercise. There are so many different forms of psychology.
The real question that you need to ask yourself is, what is it that drives you to any of these professions?
For me, it’s the one to one in-depth work that got me into counselling psychology. That and the idea of one day working on a more private basis. All of these factors contributed to me going down the counselling psychology path.
There are some things I would flag up here when thinking about what form of psychology you want to pursue though.
Be careful of only going for the money and paid courses.
Of course, I get the struggle but just be aware. It’s important to put your ideology and passion first.
What you need to be thinking of next
Experience, experience, experience!!!
Go out and volunteer!
Develop experience in caring roles, roles where you will be helping and working with others.
Look at positions like health care work, support worker (in particular), even assistant psychologist roles.
Network and see where you can add value. This is a vital next step in developing your career in psychology and knowing where you want to take your psychology degree.
One of the biggest issues with people getting ahead in psychology after their degree is that they think things are just going to fall in place.
You need to do the groundwork during and after you graduate.
Create those opportunities for yourself because at the end of the day there will be loads of people in the same position as you. This is actually something I have spoken about at conferences before to psychology graduates. Click here to check out my talk.
Think about researcher roles also.
Don’t count these out!
They can be a great way in the door of academia and working with some psychologists. Universities are always looking for willing researchers so it a line of employment that always has opportunities and can be really rewarding.
I got my researcher job off the back of seeing a job advert that I didn’t fit and phoning the guy up and he gave me another job to do psychology research for him.
Key points to consider
- It’s ok to not go into psychology after your undergraduate degree. It’s still a brilliant and wide-ranging degree to have.
- Don’t be scared of going into a profession in psychology.
- Some extra work will be needed, but we need psychologists now more than ever.
- The opportunities are so huge for those willing to invest.
- Think about the type of psychology you want to undertake and why.
- What are the reasons for this form of psychology? Why not others?
- Develop experiences.
- Think about building a CV.