What to do next!

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:39 pm

Hi Everyone,

Apologies if this is long and in the wrong section.

I am after some advice really.

Background

I graduated in 2011 with a low 2:1 from UCL. I could have done much better academically as my A Levels were excellent (4 A*). However, I lost my mother, sister and grandfather within a space of 2 years at uni.
I have applied for the doctorate 3x now and the 1st time I got an interview at RHUL and reserve at UCL (was a support worker). Since then, I have failed to get any interviews. I suspect my application is not strong enough (always got reviewed by CPs and trainees).

I have been an AP for 4 years (Adult LD, CAMHS and lastly Brain Injury).

I left my CAMHS job in 2015 to start an MSc at the IOPPN (I got a Merit). Towards the end of my MSc I got my AP job at a Neuro rehab. Then in September 2016, I found out I was pregnant.

Presently

I was due to return to work this January 2018 after maternity but there was no job waiting for me. Luckily (or unluckily), my mother in law has her own rehabilitation business and I have been working as a care coordinator which I am enjoying but I am unsure how long I can work with her as I don’t believe she can provide a reference for me and whether this is relevant experience.

I managed to get a p/t job at the council working on the fostering and adoption panel. Part of my role will involve whether adoption is the most appropriate plan for a child whose care has been relinquished by their birth parents and the suitability of prospective adoptive applicants to adopt amongst other things. I am just waiting for my CRB to arrive.

Anyways, a CP said to me that this was not relevant experience even though I thought so.
So now I am wondering whether, I should apply for research assistant roles as I have enough clinical experience or simply do a PhD.
But if I do a PhD, can I apply for the doctorate whilst doing it or I will have to wait?
I worry that my time out on maternity has made me a less of a candidate for the doctorate and I really do not know what to do.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and well done if you made it to the end :D

Lancelot
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 8:07 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Lancelot » Mon Mar 26, 2018 10:03 pm

Hi Blossom

It sounds relevant to me. I personally feel that after an AP post or two you are better to find other roles for your application to stand out and can speak about in interview. You don't seem to be doing anything terribly wrong, it is the competition.

If you start a funded PhD you will have to stick with it for 3 years. You do not need a PhD! It sounds like you are clutching at straws!

Have you tried selection tests as a way of securing interviews?

I would 1) re-evaluate your course selection
2) consider selection tests
3) review application - is it really reflective? have you covered the basics but sold your unique selling points?
4) in terms of research - could you turn your masters thesis into a publication or voluntary as research assistant.
something with less commitment than a PhD!

I would also think about how desperate you are to get on to CP - is it really worth it? are there other options? 3 times suck.

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Mon Mar 26, 2018 10:32 pm

Lancelot wrote:Hi Blossom

It sounds relevant to me. I personally feel that after an AP post or two you are better to find other roles for your application to stand out and can speak about in interview. You don't seem to be doing anything terribly wrong, it is the competition.

If you start a funded PhD you will have to stick with it for 3 years. You do not need a PhD! It sounds like you are clutching at straws!

Have you tried selection tests as a way of securing interviews?

I would 1) re-evaluate your course selection
2) consider selection tests
3) review application - is it really reflective? have you covered the basics but sold your unique selling points?
4) in terms of research - could you turn your masters thesis into a publication or voluntary as research assistant.
something with less commitment than a PhD!

I would also think about how desperate you are to get on to CP - is it really worth it? are there other options? 3 times suck.
Thank you so much for your reply. Having looked back at my form, I can see how it doesn't show how I have personally developed and not so reflective. This is something I will be amending this year.

I have considered selection tests but I somehow panic on the day and never finish. This is in comparison to when I do it at home; I know the answers and always manage to finish. Saying this I do plan on attempting it again this year.

Regarding my options..I am happy to do a PhD and go down the teaching route or partner with my MIL. I have said to myself I will stop applying in 2 years when I am 30 and move on.
I guess the reason I am still pursuing it is because it is what I love. I have worked hard to have bought my own place and have started a family. So I guess my life has not been on hold due to the doctorate. I actually see it as I now have time to devote to it if that makes sense.

I have emailed a few places regarding voluntary research roles and I have been in touch with my MSc thesis supervisor re publishing but no reply as of yet.

Thank you once again.

lozzyhickers
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:41 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by lozzyhickers » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:54 pm

Hi, I don't really have any advice but just wanted to say i'm in a similar situation so I know how frustrating it is. I'm in a situation where I can't afford to take the pay cut of a full-time AP post, and can't relocate from London unless it's to East Anglia, so i'm severely limited. Not sure what else I can do.

As for your case, I wouldn't say you need a PhD. If you started one, you'd need to finish really as ending a PhD early can be damaging for both student and supervisor. You don't need to do one, so only do it if you want to.

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:15 pm

lozzyhickers wrote:Hi, I don't really have any advice but just wanted to say i'm in a similar situation so I know how frustrating it is. I'm in a situation where I can't afford to take the pay cut of a full-time AP post, and can't relocate from London unless it's to East Anglia, so i'm severely limited. Not sure what else I can do.

As for your case, I wouldn't say you need a PhD. If you started one, you'd need to finish really as ending a PhD early can be damaging for both student and supervisor. You don't need to do one, so only do it if you want to.
Thank you so much for taking time out to reply. It is a very difficult process and can make a person doubt their own skills. I also can't relocate as I bought my place in London and I have my family here. I also can't afford the AP pay cuts either. All the AP roles I have been seeing are at a band 4 which I think is ludicrous. After 3 years of studying a degree and be offered such pay.

I really hope things get better for you too.

ExDB
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:37 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by ExDB » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:39 pm

I don't want to detract from the thread but I am curious with how you managed to get 4 A* grades for your A Levels. If you graduated in 2011 then you presumably started your undergraduate in 2008. The A* grade was only introduced in 2010.

Back to topic - I wonder if it would be fair to say that a low 2:1 & merit would be slightly below average academically (not in real life - just in clinical psychology applicant world) and if this is holding back your application. Perhaps when answering the question of what you hope to gain from training you could address this. For instance, you could highlight that training would provide an opportunity to excel academically, particularly given the resilience you showed during your undergraduate degree.

lilachannah
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:48 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by lilachannah » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:35 am

I have a low 2:1 myself and despite also having an MSc it does appear to have held me back somewhat. I have 5 years experience as an AP and RA, publications and conference presentations and have struggled to get interviews until recently. I applied to Bangor this year and despite them awarding me the top score for my clinical and research experience, they recalculated the final year marks from my BSc (without including the dissertation) and I then fell under the 60% threshold for an interview (by 1%). It's frustrating but I think there are lots more people coming through with high 2:1/1st's these days, due to people being more aware of how competitive the field is, which makes it difficult for those of us with lower undergrad marks; when selectors are faced with a low 2:1 and a 1st I'd imagine that they'll go for the 1st! Bangor have recommended doing another BSc or a PhD, neither of which are an option for me. I think that applying to courses with selection tests is the best option if you have lower undergrad marks, which is how I have two interviews this year.

However, it sounds like you have great experience and to complete a degree with your circumstances at the time shows a great deal of resilience, so it may be a question of how you discuss this on your form as I believe they do take extenuating circumstances into account.

Wishing you lots and lots of luck! :D

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:13 am

ExDB wrote:I don't want to detract from the thread but I am curious with how you managed to get 4 A* grades for your A Levels. If you graduated in 2011 then you presumably started your undergraduate in 2008. The A* grade was only introduced in 2010.

Back to topic - I wonder if it would be fair to say that a low 2:1 & merit would be slightly below average academically (not in real life - just in clinical psychology applicant world) and if this is holding back your application. Perhaps when answering the question of what you hope to gain from training you could address this. For instance, you could highlight that training would provide an opportunity to excel academically, particularly given the resilience you showed during your undergraduate degree.

You are right, I did graduate with 4 A but I received a letter from college regarding re-classification as I got full marks in most of my exams..saying that I only actually put 4 A's in applications.

Thank you for the suggestion about what to add in the training question. It is something I never considered but something I will definitely do this year.
Last edited by Blossom on Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:17 am

lilachannah wrote:I have a low 2:1 myself and despite also having an MSc it does appear to have held me back somewhat. I have 5 years experience as an AP and RA, publications and conference presentations and have struggled to get interviews until recently. I applied to Bangor this year and despite them awarding me the top score for my clinical and research experience, they recalculated the final year marks from my BSc (without including the dissertation) and I then fell under the 60% threshold for an interview (by 1%). It's frustrating but I think there are lots more people coming through with high 2:1/1st's these days, due to people being more aware of how competitive the field is, which makes it difficult for those of us with lower undergrad marks; when selectors are faced with a low 2:1 and a 1st I'd imagine that they'll go for the 1st! Bangor have recommended doing another BSc or a PhD, neither of which are an option for me. I think that applying to courses with selection tests is the best option if you have lower undergrad marks, which is how I have two interviews this year.

However, it sounds like you have great experience and to complete a degree with your circumstances at the time shows a great deal of resilience, so it may be a question of how you discuss this on your form as I believe they do take extenuating circumstances into account.

Wishing you lots and lots of luck! :D
Thank you for your suggestions and congratulations on your interviews.

I will be selecting at least 1 course with a selection test this year. I think my worry is since undergrad years, I developed an anxiety in exam settings. When I practice test papers under timed conditions in familiar places (home, work etc) I finish on time and answer the questions. However, when I previously attended the selection tests at Surrey and Salomons.. I panicked so much I even lost my drivers license and could not sit the tests.
I am also concerned about the recent use of verbal and non verbal reasoning tests...

lilachannah
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:48 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by lilachannah » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:47 am

Blossom wrote:
lilachannah wrote:I have a low 2:1 myself and despite also having an MSc it does appear to have held me back somewhat. I have 5 years experience as an AP and RA, publications and conference presentations and have struggled to get interviews until recently. I applied to Bangor this year and despite them awarding me the top score for my clinical and research experience, they recalculated the final year marks from my BSc (without including the dissertation) and I then fell under the 60% threshold for an interview (by 1%). It's frustrating but I think there are lots more people coming through with high 2:1/1st's these days, due to people being more aware of how competitive the field is, which makes it difficult for those of us with lower undergrad marks; when selectors are faced with a low 2:1 and a 1st I'd imagine that they'll go for the 1st! Bangor have recommended doing another BSc or a PhD, neither of which are an option for me. I think that applying to courses with selection tests is the best option if you have lower undergrad marks, which is how I have two interviews this year.

However, it sounds like you have great experience and to complete a degree with your circumstances at the time shows a great deal of resilience, so it may be a question of how you discuss this on your form as I believe they do take extenuating circumstances into account.

Wishing you lots and lots of luck! :D
Thank you for your suggestions and congratulations on your interviews.

I will be selecting at least 1 course with a selection test this year. I think my worry is since undergrad years, I developed an anxiety in exam settings. When I practice test papers under timed conditions in familiar places (home, work etc) I finish on time and answer the questions. However, when I previously attended the selection tests at Surrey and Salomons.. I panicked so much I even lost my drivers license and could not sit the tests.
I am also concerned about the recent use of verbal and non verbal reasoning tests...

I'm sorry to hear you had a horrible experience at Surrey/Salomon's - the pressure of this process can be really difficult, and I can definitely relate to that anxiety!

I've think the technique with the verbal and non-verbal tests is to think of it as learning a new skill. I've always really struggled with maths and anything number-related brings me out in a cold sweat! I persuaded myself that the actual maths you need to apply is not difficult, it's just working out what they want you to do with the data they've given you. I still found this difficult but practicing and practicing, first by taking as long as you want, then eventually under timed conditions, really helped me and eventually I got to the stage where seeing the questions didn't send me into an immediate panic as they were familiar to me.

Not that I'm a pro now, by any means!! :lol: I think that's just what helped me feel less intimidated by those horrible tests!

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:00 pm

lilachannah wrote:I'm sorry to hear you had a horrible experience at Surrey/Salomon's - the pressure of this process can be really difficult, and I can definitely relate to that anxiety!

I've think the technique with the verbal and non-verbal tests is to think of it as learning a new skill. I've always really struggled with maths and anything number-related brings me out in a cold sweat! I persuaded myself that the actual maths you need to apply is not difficult, it's just working out what they want you to do with the data they've given you. I still found this difficult but practicing and practicing, first by taking as long as you want, then eventually under timed conditions, really helped me and eventually I got to the stage where seeing the questions didn't send me into an immediate panic as they were familiar to me.

Not that I'm a pro now, by any means!! :lol: I think that's just what helped me feel less intimidated by those horrible tests!

Well you must be some sort of an expert now :D . I intend on practicing too. I bought myself 2 stats book (Chris Barker and Andy Field) and then I will start on the reasoning and situational judgement ones. How did you practice? Did you use any books or websites?

Thanks

JB99
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Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:12 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by JB99 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:17 pm

I understand the anxiety with the selection tests. I've always been good at maths and done well in the statistics modules, but I struggled in the numerical reasoning this year.

Often the questions require multiple steps, and on a couple of occasions, I must've made a calculator error, as my calculations did not match the possible answers. On another occasion, I forgot to apply my calculation to all 4 columns, as the previous question wanted you to perform the maths on just 1.

The problem with mistakes like these, is you have to then restart your calculations which, with multiple steps, can take minutes off your time. The short time frame gives you hardly any margin of error, and stress caused by one mistake then compounds and causes more mistakes.

Blossom
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:30 pm

Re: What to do next!

Post by Blossom » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:48 pm

JB99 wrote:I understand the anxiety with the selection tests. I've always been good at maths and done well in the statistics modules, but I struggled in the numerical reasoning this year.

Often the questions require multiple steps, and on a couple of occasions, I must've made a calculator error, as my calculations did not match the possible answers. On another occasion, I forgot to apply my calculation to all 4 columns, as the previous question wanted you to perform the maths on just 1.

The problem with mistakes like these, is you have to then restart your calculations which, with multiple steps, can take minutes off your time. The short time frame gives you hardly any margin of error, and stress caused by one mistake then compounds and causes more mistakes.

Just reading this makes me not want to attempt selection tests. I have never been great at Maths. I think in GCSE I got a B saying that though in my MSc I got a distinction in stats.... I plan on applying to Salomons and/or Surrey...whichever doesn't require numerical reasoning...

hawke
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:10 am

Re: What to do next!

Post by hawke » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:06 pm

I would agree with others, that choosing universities based on their short-listing process is becoming key. Short-listing tests definitely agree with me - my application alone is the high end of good enough in all areas now, but not outstanding enough to win me interviews without something extra. So I think you either have to find something outstanding (like a PhD, or some really unique experience) for your application, or pick the universities that select based on your existing strengths.

With grade inflation, huge numbers of graduates are now getting 1st class degrees. Not for a moment suggesting younger people haven't worked hard for these results, but I think increasingly the 2:1s are getting cut early on in short-listing at many universities.

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miriam
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Re: What to do next!

Post by miriam » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:28 pm

Blossom wrote:Hi Everyone,

Apologies if this is long and in the wrong section.

I am after some advice really.

Background

I graduated in 2011 with a low 2:1 from UCL. I could have done much better academically as my A Levels were excellent (4 A*). However, I lost my mother, sister and grandfather within a space of 2 years at uni.
I have applied for the doctorate 3x now and the 1st time I got an interview at RHUL and reserve at UCL (was a support worker). Since then, I have failed to get any interviews. I suspect my application is not strong enough (always got reviewed by CPs and trainees).

I have been an AP for 4 years (Adult LD, CAMHS and lastly Brain Injury).

I left my CAMHS job in 2015 to start an MSc at the IOPPN (I got a Merit). Towards the end of my MSc I got my AP job at a Neuro rehab. Then in September 2016, I found out I was pregnant.

Presently

I was due to return to work this January 2018 after maternity but there was no job waiting for me. Luckily (or unluckily), my mother in law has her own rehabilitation business and I have been working as a care coordinator which I am enjoying but I am unsure how long I can work with her as I don’t believe she can provide a reference for me and whether this is relevant experience.

I managed to get a p/t job at the council working on the fostering and adoption panel. Part of my role will involve whether adoption is the most appropriate plan for a child whose care has been relinquished by their birth parents and the suitability of prospective adoptive applicants to adopt amongst other things. I am just waiting for my CRB to arrive.

Anyways, a CP said to me that this was not relevant experience even though I thought so.
So now I am wondering whether, I should apply for research assistant roles as I have enough clinical experience or simply do a PhD.
But if I do a PhD, can I apply for the doctorate whilst doing it or I will have to wait?
I worry that my time out on maternity has made me a less of a candidate for the doctorate and I really do not know what to do.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and well done if you made it to the end :D
Hi Blossom,

I've moved this to careers advice as it isn't about the doctoral application process, but about how to progress your career.
It sounds like you have lots of experience that is relevant, and what you are doing now sounds relevant to me - though I can see why some people might see it as "second tier" type experience as the general rule of thumb is that experience is better if it has direct CP supervision. It seems to me like you've had a lot of clinical experience and CP supervision in that role, so I think getting a research post and publications is the route I'd take in your shoes, as publications prove academic strength.

I'd also get your application reviewed by someone you don't know (and I don't mind taking a look if you want to send it to me, as I've reviewed over a hundred of them) because the ability to sell your experience and show reflection seems to be the barrier here.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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