Tag Archives: Placement advice

Mastering Madrid.

Greetings from Madrid!

I have now been studying here for roughly two and a half months, and have loved every bit of it. This post will mainly focus on what Madrid has to offer, so anyone aspiring to do their placement here, can receive a few hints, and tips of what might be in store for them. I will also briefly touch upon the finances of studying, and living abroad, as this is a big factor in the decision-making for most people, myself included.

Where to begin?! The University life here is somewhat similar to that of Aston, however, I found that there are some differences, mainly in the way you are examined, and in the way some of the courses are organised. First, and foremost, I got to choose my own modules here, something that you do not get the chance to do until final year, if you’re a joint-honours ABS, and LSS student like myself. This is something I feel is a benefit, as you are given more autonomy, and can focus on a field that you enjoy, or are good at, or both! At UC3M, which is the University I am studying at, there is a big emphasis on continuous evaluation, and mid-term tests. This is something we do not really encounter at Aston, but I have found that they are really not that bad, and can work out in your favour, as there is then less stress on you for the final exam.

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The social life is great, and there is so much to do. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) team here are really helpful, and arrange some great events. You should sign up for the ESN card, it’s only €5, and it great value for money. I would recommend everyone to take part in the early events, as it is a great way to get to know people, and to learn about Madrid, and all of it’s hotspots. The food is unbelievably cheap – especially compared to England! Madrid really is a sports-mad city, so for any football or basketball fans that are planning to study, or work here, they will not be disappointed.

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Generally, the city itself it relatively cheap. Accommodation is cheaper than the majority of anything that you will find in England. You can purchase a travel card, which is €20 a month for students, and with that, you can travel anywhere within the region of Madrid, on any mode of public transport. Flights back to the UK are also quite cheap, so you can return home, if you need to. So, for anyone that wants to do their placement abroad, but is put off by the expenses, should really look into it, as Madrid is relatively cheaper than most other European capital cities, and you will be guaranteed to have a great experience.

Thanks for reading!

Here Begins my Placement Rollercoaster!

Hi everyone! So here begins my year of placement, I don’t know what ups and downs I will encounter.  But with a confident and positive attitude I am ready to take on any challenges ahead.

As I was coming towards the end of my first year, it was time to look for a placement.  I spent some time during the summer completing a placement CV.  My motivation drove me to apply for placements every week and hoping for a positive response. But to my disappointment it seemed like a constant cycle with every placement application being declined. The excitement and optimism was slowly fading away, so I began preparing to go straight into my final year. I don’t know if it was wishful thinking, I still pondered over the opportunity of getting a placement and gaining some vital work experience.

The last application I sent was to University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust for the role of a ‘Clinical Coder’.  At this point I wasn’t optimistic at all, as I thought another rejection was waiting for me.  Just as I thought all hope was lost, I received an email inviting me to an interview. I got over excited, I asked my sister to pinch me and she actually did (yes… it really hurt!).  Although the education manager was very impressed with my interview, I was declined the offer for this particular placement as she said I am a student who has much more to offer and asked me exactly what I want to do and was willing to help me find a suitable placement. I was completely astonished by what she had said, it was like she knew I have potential. I received an email after a few days offering me a place in the upper gastrointestinal cancer department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Human Biomaterial Resource Centre which is part of the University of Birmingham medical school.

View from Queen Elizabeth Hospital 7th floor.

View from Queen Elizabeth Hospital 7th floor.

Thinking of taking on a placement?  These are the top tips  I recommend through my experience:

  • Complete your placement CV before you start second year.  The earlier this is done, the sooner you can start applying.
  • When applying,  send your CV with a supporting cover letter.  Edit each cover letter so it is specific to that company and job role.  Do not make one generic cover letter, you will not stand out or seem determined.
  • If a particular company interests you, email a contact provided and ask them to point you in the right direction, i.e. the work placement team/training team.
  • Apply, apply, apply! It is important to apply to as many placements as possible every week. This will increase your chances of getting a placement.
  • Never give up, it may be a slow process but do not lose hope.  Expect the unexpected!

The process of gaining a placement is similar to an experience of job hunting in the real world. Perseverance is key and ensure that you stand out through your CV and cover letter.

All the best for your placement journey!

Aisha 🙂

What Would I Do Different?

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Hi guys! I’m Sophie and welcome to my first blog post 🙂

As an introduction I thought to give advice on what I would have done if I was to do the application process again, I know a lot of you will be at the time consuming stage of applying to as many relevant applications as possible!

There are so many things which I would have gone back and told myself when I began the process of applying for placements and I hope when I cover some of these in this blog, it helps you to avoid these same mistakes!

I study Business Computing and IT at Aston University (Year 3 Representative) and despite it working out well for me securing a placement in Vauxhall Motor’s IT department in Luton as a Business Intelligence Analyst, there are many things which I could think of which would have made my process easier to give me less stress.

Mistake: Last Minute Applications
I believe that I left applying for placements much too late. When I began second year, I didn’t start to look into placements as soon as I should have and this is what put me behind in the process. In my head I predicted I would have secured a placement by my summer exams, however I had to go to assessment centres through this exam period (which was hell), and this could have put my grades at jeopardy.

Solution: Plan Your Time
If I was to go back, I would plan my time and my studies out in the first term and make sure I set aside real study time to apply and research into placements. A lot of placements deadlines are before Christmas, and so it is essential that you would note down the deadlines of ones which you are interested in and complete these first. I also underestimated how time consuming the process of applying for placements is – it is literally like applying for a real job – you go through various stages which can take hours to complete. This can be a challenge when you need to juggle both coursework/revision and applying for placements so great time management is the main thing I would recommend for this process. Put specified time aside in your diary to apply to placements, you will thank yourself for this later.

Mistake: Limiting My Options
Before I secured my placement I was mainly looking on RateMyPlacement – the main website to search for placement and job opportunities, if you have not looked at this website, look now! (I inserted a hyperlink, I got you 😀 ). However, I found my placement external to RateMyPlacement and the only reason I found this was because another student who had secured a placement there told me to look at Vauxhall’s website.

Solution: Search Everywhere
I would recommend to search for placements on RateMyPlacement, but also on specific company’s websites which you are interested in working for as they may have opportunities for internships and placements of your interest – look at their ‘Careers’ section on their website. Even if the company you want to work for does not have placement opportunities readily available on their careers page, send them an email to inquire! What do you have to lose?

The process on a whole can be described as time consuming, frustrating but completely worth it. A placement year can help structure your career, I will write more posts about how General Motors and my experience has helped me finally decide what I want to do! So I would recommend to take the application process serious to guarantee you spend a year doing something you enjoy and will benefit you the most.

Good luck!

Sophie x

Every placement has an end, but in life every ending is a new beginning

Hello all!

Hope you are all well and good! In all honesty, I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news.. but my placement has unfortunately come to an end. I never imagined my time would come to an end so suddenly, but it seems if you keep yourself occupied long enough, you won’t even realise where time has disappeared to! It’s truly sad to see the placement coming to an end and especially saying the final farewells (the part I find the hardest!). The way I see it, it’s all part of the learning process and I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I have been given. I was always on the fence about choosing a career in clinical psychology, but I feel I have a much clearer idea now.

As this is my final blog post, I will give the most credible and honest (believe me when I say this) feedback about my time as an honorary at BSMHFT. I will give you a breakdown of the service, what I did on a day to day basis, the psychological interventions that you will encounter and important tips to remember if you are one of the lucky ones working in a CMHT setting as part of your placement year!

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT):

The core function of CMHTs are to provide assessments and interventions for people experiencing moderate to severe and enduring mental health problems. The diagnosis criteria includes psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression,  bi-polar disorder and OCD. People can only be referred to this secondary care service by their GP or a primary care service such as IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) or BHM (Birmingham Healthy Minds). To accomplish and complete shared objectives, a CMHT is made up of professionals from different disciplines including Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and Nurses.

Responsibilities:

➔ Shadowing assessments and other members of staff: I was given many opportunities to sit into assessments which measure a persons suitability for psychological therapy. During this, the clinician usually requested me to make notes from which I could make a formulation (see below). As you’ll be working in a multi-disciplinary team, you will be able to shadow other team professionals such as psychiatrists, occupation therapists and support workers.

Writing formulations and case histories: Throughout the year, I was involved in planning service user care programmes. Following an assessment, I would use the 5P formulation (Predisposing, Precipitating, Presenting, Protective and Perpetuating factors) to organise the notes and present them to the clinician. Also I was given the task of completing detailed case histories which required reading through their past history and summarising the information into one easy to read document. Both helped in making a decision whether the client should be taken up for therapy.

➔ Facilitating group programmes: At my CMHT, I was fortunate enough to participate in a depression group programme. Here the service users were provided with therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness) in a group setting. My role as an honorary assistant was to write up progress notes, scoring measures and facilitating mindfulness exercises.

➔ Attending meetings: On a weekly basis, I attended multi-disciplinary team meetings which involved discussing about team caseloads. Here different professionals would offer their own insight into how best resolve managing a service user. Also on a monthly basis I attended business and depression group programme meetings.

➔ Conducting audits: As an Honorary Assistant, you will be required to complete an audit during your placement time.  This will involve you collecting and analysing data from the database and trying to identify anomalies that shouldn’t otherwise be there. Once complete you will have to report back in the meeting.

➔ Maintaining databases:  At the CMHT, the psychology team will have their own spreadsheet database which allows clinicians to track referrals to Psychology. As an Honorary Assistant, it will be your role to keep this spreadsheet up to date by entering referral dates, appointments attended and assessment forms received.

➔ Aston CPD programme: On a weekly basis you will be given training on topics relevant to your placement. These will be facilitated by clinical psychologists based on their speciality. Topics will cover basic formulations, psychosis, and research methods.

➔ CORE/Scoring measures: During assessments, service users are required to complete questionnaires. These are used to assess the severity of the individuals problems. You will come across measures such as Becks Depression Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire.

Psychological Interventions offered in a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) setting:

Out of all psychological therapies provided, you will see that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will be administered quite frequently and is the first choice of therapy by Psychotherapists. There are interventions which focus on relapse prevention and early warning signs. Here therapists focus on making coping strategies which can help clients handle their symptoms and identify signs of relapse. This reduces the number of clients from becoming admitted to hospitals. A powerful and newly emerging therapy known as Mindfulness Based Cognitive therapy (MCBT) which aids in preventing relapse of depression, especially in individuals with major depressive disorder.

Therapy specially designed for treating patients with trauma related symptoms such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. Individuals who may suffer from chronically suicidal thoughts and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be offered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Behavioural Activation therapy is often used to encourage individuals to develop positive behaviour that they would usually avoid doing.

Things you need to remember:  

➔ You will most likely feel overwhelmed  when encountered with word terminologies and areas of psychology which you might not be familiar with. Don’t worry you will pick it up without realising but don’t be scared to ask others if you are unsure! They know you are a placement student and would be happy to answer all your questions.

➔ This placement year will be a steep learning curve, expect to make mistakes, but make sure to learn from them!  Through my own experience I would highly recommend carrying a diary and making good use of it. Placement staff will begin to trust you when you can prove you can work by yourself and show self-initiative. As the placement progresses you will be given more and more to do!

➔ Before sitting in on an assessment to see a client, it is useful to read up on their background history. This will help you know what to expect!

➔ You will only gain shadowing experience if staff are aware of who you are! Try and get yourself known within the team by attending meetings and any other social events.

➔ You will have been assigned a placement tutor who will give you useful advice throughout the year and will be happy to talk to you about any thoughts, issues and most importantly your systematic review.

➔ You will have regular contact with other Aston placement students and will be attending weekly training sessions provided by the NHS. Make good use of this time to address any worries you may have with your peers.

➔ If you have any issues that you wish to raise don’t be afraid to speak up. Both the placement and Aston university want you to make the most of this year but also at the same time want you to enjoy it thoroughly.

Disclaimer: You will be expected to complete the minimum 150 days which will require you to work full-time unpaid 4 days a week. Remember don’t count the days, make the days count! Once you have finished for the day you have actually finished; you will not be required to take any work with you home. This leaves your evenings and weekends completely free!

It’s been a pleasure blogging my placement experience to you all! I wish you all the very best in life and hope I have been of help! Whenever in doubt remember:

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs!”

Ali

The ‘not so chronically lazy’ approach to securing a placement.

Searching for placements can be exhausting, stressful and for some unimportant.  As a student I understood this attitude, I partly shared the attitude. There was no doubt that I understood the value of a placement – I would be leaving with not only a degree but a years’ worth of experience in my field of interest. Something most graduates cannot say they have. I knew I would be giving myself the push I need to succeed in the real world of work and an experience that would either push me towards Marketing or away from it. I knew that I would rather know now than to search long and hard for a job once I graduated, only to realise, it’s not a job I want …. at all. Changing my attitude towards placement search came as more of an epiphany, somewhat mid – January. I began being far more proactive and searching for placements on a weekly basis, which then turned into a daily task.

The more I searched, the more I found things that appealed to me. Having used Aston Futures first hand, I wasn’t filtering my searches, I was simply clicking from page to page, hoping for a placement to hit me in the eye. This was the wrong approach, the approach that defined me as the ‘chronically lazy’. Because, of this lack of ambition and inability to search more appropriately, the rejections piled on. I was applying for things that didn’t interest me much, things that I thought I should just do for the sake of it as I was unable to find many placements in my field of interest … Marketing! And here you thought I would say something unrealistic like ‘acting’ – to be found on Aston Futures.

The rejections, piled on, they were more than just rejections, they were silent rejections as most employers didn’t get back to me, giving me the silent ‘no’. The more I was rejected the more I was motivated, motivated to receive a ‘congratulations’ rather than an ‘unfortunately’ or a nothing at all. It was a hard juggle between placement search, exam prep and having a social life. The more those around me began to secure their placements, the more I felt I the need to try harder. The search can make you feel down and extremely pressured, but the outcome … the outcome is worth it all. The temporary lapse between searching for a placement and securing one is a hard one to overcome, but once you receive that ‘congratulations’ you forget about the frustration caused by not securing a placement, as you’re too overjoyed to care about the past. The short-term. Through the ups and downs of second year I finally received a phone call, somewhat better than just an email and was invited along to an assessment day.

Placements searches can be daunting and tedious but with ambition, there is no doubt you’ll find one. If you weren’t placement material, you wouldn’t be in uni. The assessment day was great fun. Surprisingly. It gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in such an environment, I was able to meet ‘potential colleagues’ and get some practice in for after I graduate. I knew I would have to take the assessment day as a step forward, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s pause this anecdote for a moment as I share with you some wisdom. Research. Research as hard as you would to write a graded paper, research is valuable. Research is what got me the job! I felt confident answering the questions posed to me on my assessment day, as I RESEARCHED – potential questions and things about the company. I WATCHED – practice interviews on YouTube and I wasn’t afraid to emphasise on my own interests and link them back to the job role. As I was interested in Marketing, I made an emphasis on what Marketing campaigns I particularly enjoy, that were not a part of the University, and I linked this back to the job which showed a broader level of knowledge. I did this without neglecting the campaigns put forward by Aston, whom I work for. I made sure to make it known that I was aware of what Aston did and what others had done.

For the first time, in my spiral of second year woes I felt, confident. Because of this I secured the role of a Marketing Assistant – the ‘not so chronically lazy’ placement student.

 

 

7 Transferable skills that you can learn as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist

Hello again! How is everyone getting on? it’s been a while since my last post, truth be told I have been slacking slightly on keeping up with the regular posts… but that is no excuse to keep my readers waiting in anticipation! Gosh what month are we in now… APRIL! That means that I am already two-thirds into my placement, by July I’ll be finished.. where has the time gone!

Now I can understand that some of you will be at a point where you are still trying to secure a placement. Now rest assured if that is the case then you do not have to be worried about a thing! It is often the case that you might not be finding the luck in getting the placement of your choice, but with persistent determination you’ll be bound to find one! In all honestly I think Aston students fail to acknowledge just how many placement opportunities are available, enough to go around for everyone (though of course some placements differ in quality than others)

The thought of trying to focus on your academic studies whilst applying for your placement simultaneously can be such a stressful task at times, hence why I highly recommend that you guys book yourself into a spa of some sort.

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Regardless, don’t get discouraged if you keep failing to secure a placement, chin up and keep hitting that apply button! 

However if you are one of those students who have already secured your placement, then I can certainly imagine you will be doing something like this…

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Upon securing your placement, you will have the desire to know what your new placement year will bring you, the challenges that you will encounter but most importantly the transferable skills that you will be able to take back with you into your final year studies.

Below I have nicely (tried to!) summarised the transferable skills that I have picked up on so far  whilst on my placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist. For those interested in the field of clinical psychology, these might be of relevance to you!

1)  In this placement, you will get many opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of psychology. You need to make sure you take as much back as you can from this placement. Make notes and learn the different therapy models (the three most relevant: Biological ,Social and Psychological) Use this time to gather ideas for your final year dissertation!

2)  This placement will guarantee you a strong insight into the field of clinical psychology. Throughout my own placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the Community Mental Health Team, I have learnt to appreciate clinical psychologists and their commitment to the field of mental health.

3)  In your placement, you will start to build up a good rapport of psychosis. There are different diagnosis levels which vary from least severe to extremely incapacitated. This diagnosis assessment helps clinical psychologists assess who requires therapy and which type in particular, whereas less severe patients are recommended to other services of which could be NHS owned or third-party.

4)  Your placement supervisors will offer you many opportunities to shadow in clinical settings and even allow you to sit in large groups where you can administer questionnaires and build up an understanding with service users. Through experience you will start to gain confidence in speaking with service users and listening to their past history whilst adjusting your behaviour and appropriateness.

5)  You will be making a good use of your IT skills throughout the year. You will be expected to have basic admin knowledge and have worked on databases using MS Excel as well as MS Word. Expect to be a pro at taking minutes in a meeting by the end of the year! 🙂

6)  As an Honorary Assistant Psychologist, you will be sitting in on Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings. This is where service user referrals are discussed and different professionals ranging from Psychiatrists, Junior Doctors, Support workers, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Clinical Psychologists all give their input on how to deal with this service user best. You will get to understand how team work and sharing perspectives helps make decisions especially in the Community Mental Health Team setting.

7)  Overall this placement is very relevant to clinical psychology and will benefit you and your personal growth. You will strive to be proactive, show self-initiative in your work and demonstrate confidence in your own ability.

Hope that helps!

What would you want to take back from your placement year? Let me know what you guys think in the comments section below!

Until next time!

What it’s like living abroad / in Spain

Living abroad is a scary yet exciting decision to make. It’s slightly different from moving away to live out for University since you can just casually take the train home whenever you like and whenever you’re missing your mum’s home cooked food. It’s a whole different story when you live in another country. It’s a new experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and it’s the honestly the best opportunity to learn to be independent and to gain new experiences. You decide where you would like to go and ‘break free’ from your standard home routine.

One of the biggest perks of living in a country like Spain is definitely the weather. From August to late October, the weather is beautiful (still)… but from then on, it gets a colder. Most people (myself included) assume that Spain is ‘hot’ all year round… please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this! It is most definitely not good weather all year round as I have experienced heavy rain, strong winds …almost as bad as England! Ok, maybe that was slightly exaggerated.

If you live out for University then you’re pretty much half way there to living abroad. You’ve already entered the independent life and you’re fine to fend for yourself (kinda). If you’re lucky like me, you’ll meet great people on your placement and you’ll make lots of friends! But some aren’t as lucky and find themselves quite lonely – it’s really important to venture out and at least attempt to meet new people…otherwise you’ll be isolating yourself in a foreign country that barely speaks your language! Believe me, you don’t want this to happen to you.

Money is something you have to personally watch over when you’re living abroad because before you know it, 3/4 of your Erasmus has gone and you don’t realise what and where you’ve spent it all on! Most the times you will eat lunch or dinner out and eventually that will add up. If you have a kitchen, try and cook as much as possible! But that’s not saying you can’t go out and treat yourselves to a nice meal every so often. Thankfully, we have our Erasmus and Student Loan to rely on and think about getting a part time job whilst you’re out there. I currently tutor three students every Saturday for two hours for extra English classes. My placement is unpaid so I took the initiative to get myself a job to earn some income.

Transport is great in Madrid – I pay 20 euros a month for access to the metro and buses which saves SO much money. One journey to Madrid city centre from where I live costs 3 euros 60 alone. If you’re from London, then you’ll be more than used to using the underground or taking buses… if you’re not, you’ll learn to use the metro ever so quickly and nowadays, we have smartphone apps to help us get around on them! It’s all about learning and finding your way.

Be open to trying new things…this is important. Wherever you end up, the country might not be 100% to your likings and it might not offer everything you’re used to having. Travel to different cities, try new food, meet new people – just have as much fun as possible and make the most of your time abroad. There are tons of different cuisines in Madrid – from the typical Spanish tapas to Japanese food, Chinese, Indian, Turkish etc.

The Spanish culture is very different from the English. In Spain, everyone is very laid back and some people are not so polite. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving involved on the metro and lack of personal space. But this is something that you get used to …eventually! Your normal dinner 6:30/7pm dinner routine will be pushed back to 8pm, sometimes 8:30pm. Again, something you have to adapt to and you learn about another culture whilst on your year abroad ~

The last thing you want to do is finish your year abroad regretting this and that – so make the most of it and choose your destination wisely 🙂

Tiffany

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8 Tips For Being A Successful Applicant And Securing A Psychology Placement Interview

Welcome back. Hope everyone has survived the bleak January blues. Trust me I know… the feeling of starting your day in pitch darkness and ending it in pitch darkness alongside the pleasantries of the English weather. This is by far the most depressing feeling that one should never endure.. but alas spring is nearly here. So, enough faffing about and lets crack on shall we?

Hope you are all doing well, especially with the exam season coming to an end, I bet some of you are making the most of these weeks to have a breather and prepare for the second term! Literally I can still recall sitting in one of my exams during second year half way through an essay feeling like my arm was going to fall off because I was writing too fast! Thought I’d take short break and…

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Now I know that the super duper highly organised students (and that doesn’t include me)  have most likely accepted and secured their placement offer by now.. however for those who haven’t… do not worry, for atlas help has arrived! In the form of a…. blog post! 🙂

Lol okok I’m just going to cut to the chase, I thought I’d dish out some simple yet helpful tips that can often be overlooked. I’m sure you lot will benefit from this in the long run especially when it comes down to your very own applications and interviews!

1)  You should aim to start early and keep yourself organised. Make it a weekly routine to check the Aston placements website for newly added placements.

2)  Make sure your CV is up-to-date and has been thoroughly checked over for any grammatical errors. This also applies for your cover letter. If you need support with this, it is highly recommended that you try the Aston Royal Literary Fellow service.

3)  Show your passion through interests and your dedication through experiences. An employer loves to see candidates who have a variety of experiences in different work settings.

4)  As a candidate during the interview process, you need to demonstrate a professional and confident outlook. Take pride in your achievements and don’t be afraid to talk about them even if they aren’t relevant to the placement.

5)  Be yourself! The placement employers won’t expect you to know it all. Remain calm at all times and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. When giving responses do not rush to answer, take time if you need to think of a well thought answer.

6)  Throughout the interview, remain positive, that is the key! If you ever feel at any point during the interview that you’ve given a poor response or ruined your chances, then simply “Keep Calm And Carry On”. Most interviewees experience this feeling but later it turns out that the interview went better than expected!

7)  Keep your options open, apply for as many placements as possible. The more interviews the better. Not only will this be good for your experience and confidence, but it will also show you how competent you are. Once you feel that you have enough options in the bag, start to deduce your placement offers by making comparisons taking different factors into consideration such as travel distance, job specifications, perks etc.

8)  DISCLAMIER: Please make sure you thoroughly read the job specification for the placement you are applying for. Often students miss out on the crucial details which make a huge difference in what they actually do during their placement year. For example, in terms of responsibilities and experiences, this is a significant difference between Assertive Outreach and Community Mental Health. Try researching each role carefully and try finding past placement students who have worked in either role to see their perspective on it!

Hope that helps!

Let me know what you guys think makes an interview successful in the comments section below!

Until next time!

Welcome to the working world of psychology in the NHS

Hi everyone, welcome to my first post of the month! My name is Ali and as an Aston placement year student I haven’t really had the opportunity to introduce myself, I think now is the chance! I’m originally from Worcester (home to the famous Worcestershire sauce!).

For those who don’t know me, I study BSc Psychology at Aston and will be going into my fourth and final year studies come October 2016. So.. what am I doing in my placement year? Since the start of early September 2015, I officially became an honorary assistant psychologist! Now for those who don’t know, an Honorary is the unpaid equivalent of an Assistant psychologist who on the other hand, may bear extra responsibilities and most of all…gets paid! However when one looks at the benefits and experiences that an honorary assistant post has to offer, the dilemma of working for free doesn’t sound that bad after all! Now you might be asking yourself.. what are exactly these responsibilities?  

  1. As an honorary assistant, you will have plenty of opportunities to observe assessments and/or therapeutic work with service users reporting psychological difficulties.
  2. To be able to develop and practice skills in psychological assessments and interpretation, making good use of formulations and honing your listening ability.
  3. To support clinicians in everyday tasks such as analysing service user notes to find specific information or divulging into past histories searching for life events that could have been potential triggers contributing to mental health disorder.
  4. To be able to observe multidisciplinary discussions about a service users diagnosis, treatment, risk assessment and care plan issues whilst having opportunities to interact with other professionals.

Now what I mentioned above is just the tip of the ice berg, as there is always something new to encounter and things to pick up as an honorary assistant. The service users that you come across each portray their own unique diagnoses alongside the relevant therapies given. As I progress through my placement year, every month my post will cover certain aspects of my honorary assistant post and the key highlights of my experiences.  Mind you, it’s quite interesting to listen to our experiences as the leap from University life (theoretical) to a fixed routine working life (practical hands on) can be quite difficult at first to adjust to.

I’m guessing you are eager to ask me right now, what is the work placement world like? It’s actually what you would expect, working your socks off 9am till 5pm 4 days a week. It’s really not that bad when compared to working a full 5 days a week! I guess that’s the benefits of being a psychology placement student.  Up till now the most I’ve really struggled with is commuting. As I live in Worcester, a standard train journey to Birmingham can take up to an hour and this is not including the walking distance between the station and the placement location. Therefore in order to be punctual and on time, I’ve often found myself waking up much earlier (6am wakies) than friends in similar psychology placements, only because I’m geographically situated further away from Birmingham than they are. However for me that’s no excuse for being late! Unfortunately the down side for me is that because of other commitments i.e. part time work and extra curricular activities, I often find myself either jogging or running around most of the time!

Overall, I’ve found myself  having a very compact and structured day in which I would find myself waking up early and sleeping late. Even till now I’m still trying to find ways to balance my activities and sleep routine, as I feel I don’t have enough time to get most of my tasks done. To address this issue, I’ve came up with a time management plan in which I prioritise my workload effectively. This allows me to get the most important tasks completed for the week, leaving the weekend free to have a break in the evenings after my part time job in the mornings! I think the only thing that I’m constantly worried about is falling asleep in the train especially in the mornings! The feeling of waking up in the train realising that you’ve completely missed your station and have to spend hours getting back isn’t a pleasant one!

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I hope you’ve found my introduction post useful,  I’m certain it will provide an insight that will be useful for anyone with an interest in a clinical psych placement like this or something similar. Please stay tuned for my second post, see you all!

Hasta Luego (See you later)

Hola chicos y chicas,

You are probably busy with exams and essays as usual but guess what?

It will all come to an end soon and we will swap places. You will be in Spain soaking up the sun whilst I’m in the UK depressed because of the weather 🙁 .

I’m kind of jealous now (I’m being honest) because even though it has been 9 months and I still have 3 left. I’m dreading leaving Seville. I have fallen in love with this beautiful and magical city and like I’ve said before I would marry Seville (I’m not kidding). As you can see I have loved my Erasmus year and I can confidently say that it has been one of the best years of my life. I know what you are probably thinking.

 

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I’m not even going to defend myself, I’m just going to let you go abroad and then we will talk when you finish your placement 😉 . As you can see, this blog post is kind of sad because that time of the year has come again. Time to say goodbye and I thought I would be the best at this because I’m already used to saying goodbye to people. I’ve had to say goodbye to my friends and family when I left Portugal, I’ve had to say goodbye to my family when I moved to Birmingham (I know it’s not that far away from Cardiff, but it still counts) and then when I moved to Spain. So, I thought “I will be fine when the girls leave, it will be like a piece of cake”.

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By the way, I did not cry (I’m not lying, ok) but it was hard to say goodbye to some of the best people that I’ve met. I think they have made my experience and influenced me a lot (not in a bad way, obviously, maybe). You would think, I would have to wait until June but no. It started in September, two weeks after I started my placement, I had to say goodbye to my older sister (which happens to be an Aston student). Two months later, I had to say goodbye to my princess, followed by my godmother in December, my twin in January, my annoying cousin in February and my next door neighbour in April. Everyone left me, literally, not even my Polish mentor stayed to check on my progress.

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However, I’m actually proud of myself because I thought I was going to cry a river, when my next door neighbour left. She was the last Original girl, they were all here when I was just a newbie and we kind of started all at the same time. To see them leave one by one was hard, specially the last one. Anyway, the moral of the story is, enjoy every single second of your placement year abroad. Enjoy your new friends and the memories that you will create together. So that during your final year, you can go and travel around Europe to reminisce over your memories.  I know I will be doing that because I’ve already been invited to a wedding in Vietnam (look at me, V.V.I.P )

 

Don’t forget, when you are in your placement year abroad to have fun, meet a lot of people, travel, create amazing memories and say hasta luego. Hasta Luego is more joyful and exciting than a good bye (let’s be honest, you want them to stay in your life otherwise how are you going to get invited to international weddings?)

 

Hasta Luego 🙂