Qavitha Buspanathan, BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate

Current employer: Autism Behavioural Centre - ABC

Current job title: Senior ABA Therapist

Current location: Malaysia

“I would definitely say that every day you study at Plymouth will be the best experience anyone can ever have. Enjoy those moments until the very last day when you graduate.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Right after graduating from University of Plymouth, I flew back to Malaysia with a rough idea of what I wanted to do. Since psychology is a broad area in which to pursue a career, I decided to offer my service to children in need (such as those who suffer from autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, and many other conditions). Finding a career wasn’t difficult. I took a few weeks off to spend some quality time with family and friends whilst, at the same time, sending my resume to companies who offer services to children in need. Within six weeks, I was employed as a behavioural therapist for children who suffer from autism and ADHD.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

My career path has definitely changed since graduation. During my first year, I was thinking about becoming a forensic psychologist; then, in my second year, I changed my mind and decided to study something related to health or child psychology. This is when I decided to take up a placement which included clinical, forensic, and educational psychology. I developed an interest working as a behavioural therapist with autistic children and children who suffer from ADHD. Therefore, it has changed quite a bit over the last four years.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Communication is vital to any career. For myself, my job involves working with mostly non-verbal children. Communicating with these children is very difficult during the early stages of a relationship. It sometimes brings tears to my eyes that these children mostly communicate through self-harming, visuals, or even by unintentionally hurting us. However, as time has passed I have learned to understand and communicate with these children using sign language, pecs, visuals, words, and many more methods. Although it took some time, I am now able to communicate with these children. Every career has its own personality, and this career has moulded me to understand and help children with specific needs. It has also given me the patience to do more for these children.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Everything I do in my career is fun and exciting. Firstly, the children I work with are the cheekiest and the most understanding children I have ever met. Doing therapy with them and teaching them things is interesting and fun. Furthermore, my colleagues are the craziest people I have ever met. I never even think of them as my colleagues, but more like family members. They have never let me down on any occasion. Most importantly, my overall experience working with my lovely children and colleagues has always been fun and exciting.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

There is nothing I would like to do differently, even if I could. This is because my experiences over the past four years, studying in the UK, have been phenomenal; working and interacting with people from all around the world, making new friends, and learning new experiences every day is magnificent. There is nothing I would change to make anything different.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

I would say getting the right job or part-time experience whilst studying is vital for any career advancement. Plan ahead and prepare in advance. Furthermore, looking online and signing up to job websites whilst completing your final year is also crucial as it gives you confidence when attending interviews and submitting your CV to big companies. Never give up if you receive negative responses, because failure leads to success. Be confident and never let failure ruin your progress towards success.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Firstly, my lecturers and friends have taught me the value of knowledge and also gave me the courage to improve my social and communication skills. In addition to this, my career advisor at University of Plymouth helped me to gain part-time work experience and a placement over the four years; they helped me to increase the number of experiences I had across different companies and to enhance my working skills. Finally, the companies with whom I worked have given me valuable experience and feedback to pursue my career after graduating from Plymouth.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

Yes, I did undertake a placement during my degree and I volunteered as well. I was working for a company called Psychology Associates in Cornwall. This has benefited me in many ways, most notably my confidence and time management skills. Having gone through the panic attacks of attending and preparing for interviews, the sad moments when receiving rejection letters, but also the joy of being told that I was the candidate a company had chosen has given me the confidence to take up any challenge without fear. Crucially, the physical and mental transition from being a student to a working adult has been helped by working in companies. I would definitely advise any student to take up their placement year as it not only adds to your personality and to your skills, but also to your life in general which will ensure great memories.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I would say that the opportunities I had of making new friends were the best memories from my time at Plymouth. From the beginning of my course to the start of my job as a student ambassador to working on my placement year, making new friends and family are the best memories. I have friends from all over the world and this is the best memory I can ask for.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with University of Plymouth, and why?

I would definitely recommend studying at University of Plymouth. Firstly, the campus is situated right in the centre of the city and close to the sea (where there are restaurants and leisure spots right at your fingertip). Secondly, University of Plymouth itself has so much to offer, from their courses to the facilities that benefit us, not forgetting their education and career advice. Finally, the feeling of home has never left my mind and adapting to the ‘four seasons in a day’ is a real treasure.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

I would definitely say that every day you study at Plymouth will be the best experience anyone can ever have. Enjoy those moments until the very last day when you graduate. Time flies by very fast and, to be honest, the four years I spent in Plymouth went by very quickly and if I could, I would like to turn the clock back. I will definitely return to my memories in Plymouth.

Inspired by this story?

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BSc Psychology