Should I give up on Psychology?

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Jazz90
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Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by Jazz90 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:12 pm

Hello everyone :-)

At the moment I feel like quite the failure. I have a bachelors in Psychology (a good 2:1) and a Master of Research in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology but I am going nowhere- and I am nearly 30 years old. My CV looks terrible and is full of gaps- all of my previous jobs have been in hospitality. I went abroad to do my Masters 4 years ago and then stayed there an extra 2 years because I loved the country so much and I was in a relationship- but I failed to find any professional work so I was just working as a hotel receptionist. I did work as a domiciliary care assistant for about 6 months during the gap before my postgrad but it was an awful company where we were terribly overworked and underpaid so I ended up quitting and working in a restaurant.

Anyway... that's my work history. Since I was 16 I have always worked either full time or part time in hospitality but I've never had a professional job in my life. Of course I have an interest in mental health and my original goal was to be a school counsellor or child therapist of some kind. I need some advice... is there any hope for me? I would love to become a fully qualified clinical psychologist but I understand that the doctorate is incredibly competitive and I feel like I wouldn't stand a chance. I am back in the UK now and applying for all sorts of jobs in the NHS (Assistant Psychologist, Support Worker roles, etc) and also research assistant positions at universities but getting nowhere. I don't think I want to do a PhD (and I feel it's unlikely I would get on one anyway and I cannot afford it). I cannot afford another Masters either. I am in the midst of moving to another (big) city and looking at the work prospects is depressing. Honestly, it looks like I will just have to settle for yet another hospitality job. I cannot even land an admin job as they all require admin experience. Having worked so hard and proved myself by completing a Research Master- it just seems so depressing and makes me feel like such a failure to end up just working in another hotel or restaurant.

Essentially, my question is: What other jobs can I do with my qualifications?? Research jobs are incredibly rare to find and also highly competitive. Assistant Psychologist jobs are even more competitive... I could go back into care work I suppose but I have had such bad experiences with that. What are my options?? With a Research Master, I would hope there would be some kind of graduate job out there :/ ... I am thinking of doing an online course in journalism or science communication and going down that path as I have so much research/writing experience. Is this a viable option? I just don't want to imagine myself in 10 years time still working in hospitality... What would you say is a viable career option for me?? Sorry for the ramble....

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miriam
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Re: Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by miriam » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:08 pm

All the jobs you are applying for are highly competitive by virtue of being in the NHS and/or AP or RA roles that appeal to large numbers of psychology graduates. You need to get some foot in the door experience first, and then to apply for more prestigious posts from there. I'd suggest you get a job in a children's home, or a home for old people with dementia, or a day centre for people with learning disabilities, or supporting a child with special needs in a school, or doing outreach with a charity working with people who are homeless or have problems with substance misuse. All of these jobs, advertised in local newspapers and generic job search sites, struggle to recruit enough people to meet demand, and should be easier to secure.
Miriam

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

Jazz90
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Re: Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by Jazz90 » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:57 am

miriam wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:08 pm
All the jobs you are applying for are highly competitive by virtue of being in the NHS and/or AP or RA roles that appeal to large numbers of psychology graduates. You need to get some foot in the door experience first, and then to apply for more prestigious posts from there. I'd suggest you get a job in a children's home, or a home for old people with dementia, or a day centre for people with learning disabilities, or supporting a child with special needs in a school, or doing outreach with a charity working with people who are homeless or have problems with substance misuse. All of these jobs, advertised in local newspapers and generic job search sites, struggle to recruit enough people to meet demand, and should be easier to secure.
Thank you for your reply and what you are suggesting does make sense. I have indeed been looking at these types of jobs- my fear would just be that no matter how much experience I get with these roles, maybe I never truly make it to a more prestigious position. The AP positions and the doctorate are so ridiculously competitive and I can never escape all the terrible gaps in my CV (gaps as in, working in hospitality and not being in professional work/studies). So I fear that even with 5+ years of experience working as a support worker or carer, I could never make it into a more prestigious role because of these gaps and my apparent lack of focus. And in that case, I'd rather direct my energy into another career altogether...

Anyway, thank you for your reply and it is indeed helpful- I will be applying for roles such as these for sure, at least in the mean time while I make up my mind a bit better. But I do also wonder- with a Research Master in Psychology- what other jobs are out there I am qualified for? If I move away from the clinical direction and based upon what I have presently achieved- what is there that I can do?

Ekorn
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Re: Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by Ekorn » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:43 am

I would also suggest applying for jobs in forensic mental health in a NHS foundation trust. The turnover of staff is high, and many units are really struggling with staffing issues. Where I used to work, the majority of the people employed did not have support work experience. Many did not have significant employment history, and others used to be receptionists, administrators, hairdressers, and taxi drivers.

Another alternative could be clinical trials administration/coordination. There are lots of NHS jobs in this area, ranging from B3 Clinical Trials Assistant to B7 Clinical Trials Manager. They ask for admin experience, but your skills as a receptionist could be transferrable. Most of my colleagues who started as a B3 got a B4 job within 9 months. It is also possible to jump from a B4 to a B6. Depending on your team, clinical trials administrators/coordinators might also have direct patient contact, recruit participants to trials, collect data, help with writing protocols/grant applications/literature reviews, and travel to conferences and investigator meetings. This could potentially open doors to research assistant positions at universities if this is the direction you would like to go.

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miriam
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Re: Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by miriam » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:35 pm

Jazz90 wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:57 am
Thank you for your reply and what you are suggesting does make sense. I have indeed been looking at these types of jobs- my fear would just be that no matter how much experience I get with these roles, maybe I never truly make it to a more prestigious position. The AP positions and the doctorate are so ridiculously competitive and I can never escape all the terrible gaps in my CV (gaps as in, working in hospitality and not being in professional work/studies). So I fear that even with 5+ years of experience working as a support worker or carer, I could never make it into a more prestigious role because of these gaps and my apparent lack of focus. And in that case, I'd rather direct my energy into another career altogether...

Anyway, thank you for your reply and it is indeed helpful- I will be applying for roles such as these for sure, at least in the mean time while I make up my mind a bit better. But I do also wonder- with a Research Master in Psychology- what other jobs are out there I am qualified for? If I move away from the clinical direction and based upon what I have presently achieved- what is there that I can do?
And do you have any evidence base for all these catastrophising thoughts? It seems a lot more about what you fear than reality to me.
Miriam

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

Mathan
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Re: Should I give up on Psychology?

Post by Mathan » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:22 am

You don’t have to give up on psychology. Psychology can be done at 25, 35, 45, 55. But you’re right, it is incredibly difficult to get onto and chasing it can feel like chasing your own tail.

There are plenty of careers that you could go for that are less competitive, would enable you to settle down for a while and still provide the fulfilment of working in a healthcare profession, which you can perhaps leverage eventually into doing the clinical doctorate. Psychiatric nurse, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist...quite a long list and ones that you could even get into this application cycle if you wanted to.

However, if you lack experience in this area, do you know for certain what work in healthcare is really like? Maybe try and get a regular job in an area you’re comfortable and volunteer once a week with a project that interests you, perhaps in mental health or education or with the elderly. See what it’s really like and then decide.

Although people on here may disagree with me, the clinical psychology career trail can feel like a bit of a professional trap, spending a long time in low paid jobs without any certainty that you’re going to get where you want to go. The older you get, the worse this can feel. So you possibly need to take a more oblique route to getting there, making it your plan B rather than your plan A and making your plan A something that it achievable and time limited in terms of how long it will take to get there.

In real world terms, have you considered approaching a career or life coach? These people can be extremely helpful and supportive in getting you on track and I would encourage it. I would also encourage you to reflect on your CV and try to see the positives. Hospitality has the word hospital in it! I’m not trying to be patronising but there’s a lot of skills that you will have learned from these roles that are transferable to healthcare settings. Working and living abroad takes courage and resilience and adaptability. You will have more to offer than you think.

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