Promoting psychology as a Chartered Psychologist and representative of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and as an academic at a college and several universities over the last few years has allowed me to observe the growing interest in the discipline and the importance that psychology representation at careers events have in raising awareness. I was pleased to have promoted psychology as a representative of the BPS at a recent Careers Fair evening at a college in Leicester. As a result of the evening and the positive interactions with students and other representatives from other organisations in attendance four particular themes emerged that are detailed below with useful links and sources of where further information can be gained from:
1) Careers within Psychology & Highlighting Real Life Applications
Students found the careers event a useful insight into the many different branches within psychology. Many were very interested to know that specific careers in psychology did not simply revolve around mental health and Clinical Psychology. Students were appreciative of being made aware of the growing areas in the profession such as Sports Psychology and Educational Psychology and the many more divisions and also how to work towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist.
Further information about the diverse areas in psychology can be found on The British Psychological Society site which has an excellent careers section that provides a wealth of information on psychology based careers. As well as this, they have produced a booklet which can be accessed online called ‘Your Journey into Psychology’ which is another great resource.
Psychology is a popular subject to study because it has such a big impact on all areas of life, from education and health, business and the workplace, to the economy and crime. Demonstrating to students how theory and research link to everyday life, employment and the contributions towards real-life applications and careers are effective aspects to showcase as part of any recruitment strategy to the profession.
2) Qualifications and Routes into Psychology
Whether an individual is at the beginning of a career in psychology, studying for GCSEs, A-Levels or a Degree in Psychology, or wanting to take a new direction and enter the world of psychology, there are many routes into the many diverse areas. The BPS careers section site detailed earlier offers advice based on your current status so whether you are at school, college, university or thinking of changing career, there is information to guide you towards where you need to go next. There is also information about the courses and universities that offer BPS Accredited Psychology courses.
3) The Importance of Highlighting Research and Science
Attendees were interested to know about the science behind psychology. Psychologists apply scientific methodology to explain human behaviour. They formulate theories, test hypotheses through observation and experiment, and analyse their reports with statistical techniques that help them identify important findings. Research is an important part of the discipline and the nature of psychological research methodology, scientific method, journal articles, publications and peer-review process and promoting and highlighting this as a driving force within the profession should also be considered in promoting psychology at events. The BPS provides access to many publications via Psychsource and currently the BPS publishes 11 journals, a monthly magazine ‘The Psychologist’, and the award-winning Research Digest blog. Distributing copies of The Psychologist and PsychTalk magazines provided by the BPS were useful in raising awareness. Psychology after all is the scientific study of human mind and behaviour.
The BPS site provides a wider-ranging look at some of the various topics and issues covered by psychology as a discipline on their A-Z of Psychology page, which has been designed to give an overview of some of the more common psychological terms and definitions, as well as providing links to help dig a little deeper in the subject.
4) Work Experience Opportunities
While students are completing school/college based courses such as GCSEs, A Levels or equivalent a common question emerged of how to gain experience. It can be helpful to get work experience by volunteering. This will be a useful addition to a CV and will help an individual gain a better idea of whether psychology is the career for them. Students were informed that they could try contacting psychologists in their local area by searching the BPS Directory of Chartered Psychologists. It was highlighted that it may be difficult to find experience with a psychologist because of the confidential nature of their work. Placements or voluntary work which involve working with people in general is always an opportunity to understand people, and there are some further suggestions below.
Some students had come to the event having thought about specific areas they would want to work in (for example, clinical, educational, and sport) and so it was encouraged that they contact local organisations and charities associated with those areas. =Universities, colleges, community groups, employers and the NHS recommend it, citing benefits for both society and also for the volunteers involved. To help further the following links to some useful websites and organisations maybe of use to further research volunteering opportunities:
- Volunteering England
- Do It!
- TimeBank UK
- NHS Volunteering Advice
- Age UK and volunteering opportunities with other registered Charity organisations
- The British Psychological Society (BPS) see site for further guidance
It is always a pleasure and I feel, a professional obligation to promote psychology in a way that raises awareness of its research and evidence based approach, and its contribution within society and employability in terms of careers. Overall, for the discipline of psychology to continue to thrive it is essential that future students and potential employees are effectively informed in a multitude of ways so that those eventually recruited are suitably qualified, informed and enthusiastic. A careers event is still very much a useful way to showcase psychology and the diverse fields within the profession.