Will a placement year and a First be enough experience to apply for AP posts?

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Will a placement year and a First be enough experience to apply for AP posts?

Post by rainbow96 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:20 am

I have just finished my Psychology UG (First Class Honours), and have been browsing this forum for a while. The questions and responses from people at all stages in their career on this site are very useful and insightful!

I have a few queries I would appreciate any responses from:

(A bit of context about me - My UG degree was 4 years long, as it involved completing a full-time placement year as a Psychology Assistant in a clinical/research setting, allowing to to develop in both my clinical and research abilities, and to work with a wide range of individuals of varying ages. I have also volunteered as a support group worker (NHS), mentor (non-NHS), and befriender (NHS) over the years).

1) I am aware of how competitive AP posts are, but was wondering whether my placement year will put me in a "good" position to potentially get shortlisted for interviews (or if post UG work is usually an essential requirement?). Quite a few band 4 posts have come up recently, and I am in two minds about whether it is worth applying with my experience thus far, or a bit unrealistic!

2) I know that non-NHS AP posts are usually less competitive, but am not really sure where to look for these? I am aware of The Priory - can't really think of anywhere else/a website that usually advertises them.

3) I am based in Wales, and was wondering whether there is anything similar to trainee IAPT/PWP roles here? I can't seem to find much information online.

Thanks in advance for reading my queries!
Last edited by miriam on Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: to make title more specific

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Re: Advice please:))) - post UG

Post by Punkgirluk » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:39 am

Others probably better placed to comment on 1 and 2 but with respect to 3 IAPT doesn’t exist in Wales. Posts similar to PWPs in primary mental health services are advertised usually as Graduate Mental Health Workers (I’ve seen several on trac jobs in last few months) but in my experience having worked in both England and Wales, these posts are much more variable in both training offered and job role (and the primary care mental health services also seem to be more variable in scope and inclusion/exclusion criteria than IAPT) I think advice would be research the specific service and try and talk to someone who has worked there to get a specific feel.

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Re: Advice please:))) - post UG

Post by mungle » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:03 pm

Congratulations on graduating and achieving a First.

AP posts are competitive but this in itself is not a reason to avoid applying for them. Draft a core personal statement that is reflective and with a high standard of writing. Do carefully proof read it!Then ensure you tailor it to each job and clearly show how you meet each point on the person specification. Your chances may improve with AP posts that are open for only a short period of time and those that require a task or specific question answering.

For non-NHS AP posts you could try Priory, Cambian Healthcare, Mencap, St Andrews, The Disabilities Trust, Cygnet Health etc. You could try searching on Indeed. Do keep an eye out for adverts on this forum.

Also, consider non-AP jobs e.g. Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, Research Assistant, Support Worker (especially where you can get contact or supervision with a CP) etc.

Look for jobs you think will enjoy and work with a client group you are excited to be with.

I can't answer your third question....hopefully someone else can!

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Re: Advice please:))) - post UG

Post by miriam » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:06 pm

I've taken on APs with a placement year, where this was relevant to the role and they had written a good application. That latter is key, and something I have written about on here and blogged about fairly recently. If you can properly tailor your application you would stand a fighting chance for an AP post, but you need to put some of your resourcefulness into action to find the non-NHS adverts, rather than expecting there will be one or two key places to look. Try children's home companies, or private therapy providers, independent clinicians etc. We get some adverts on here that haven't gone down the route of advertising on one of the national platforms too, and they are always worth a go as they are generally much less inundated with applicants.

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

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Re: Will a placement year and a First be enough experience to apply for AP posts?

Post by nightowl » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:22 pm

I was able to get an AP post straight following uni (where I got a first and had a placement, similar to yourself) - I was having a few (4 I think?) interviews before I even finished the degree and was offered the job in 2 of these cases. I did find it hard to get interviews for jobs that weren't directly related to my placement (i.e. exactly same type of service), and generally had more luck with private sector providers of NHS services (I used the indeed.co.uk website to find these) and fixed-term contracts (i.e., the jobs that are typically less appealing). Remember that for many jobs you will be competing against already employed APs who are looking for new pre-training experiences. Don't listen to anyone says that private-sector jobs make it harder to get onto training - I would have said 50% of my training cohort came from and had only ever worked in non-NHS organisations.

I was also tactical in how I explained my experience - Although it was honorary, I was doing an AP job on my placement, but for many services writing "honorary" in the job title of an application/CV means all you did was admin and observation - meaning some immediately discount you and won't even read the application further. I found just writing my job title as "assistant psychologist (honorary)" rather than "honorary assistant psychologist" for some reason massively increased my chances of being interviewed. On some, where they was an opportunity to write responsibilities immediately below, I would write "assistant psychologist" in the job title, and then immediately below write that it was a placement and honorary position and explain my responsibilities (showing it was worthy of being an AP role) - I would always be VERY clear that it was honorary/not paid in both this part and the supporting statement. Whether you should go that far depends on what you actually did on your placement, however.

I was also willing to relocate. I think if you're willing to be flexible on this it's definitely more than possible. I found just 3 months into that paid position it was MUCH easier to get interviews (I would get offered interviews for 75% of AP jobs I applied for) - so there would be the option of trying to move closer to home quite soon.

Hope that offers some reassurance! (but I would say willing to be flexible on the first job in terms of location really helps).

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Re: Will a placement year and a First be enough experience to apply for AP posts?

Post by rainbow96 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:05 am

Thanks for your replies and useful advice everyone! It's much appreciated.

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