Sarah Bishop - BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate
Images (c) Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

There are many reasons why I would recommend Plymouth University courses. The first and most important reason I chose to attend Plymouth University was because a placement year was offered on my course; the opportunity to gain a year’s experience in between the second and final year of study.  This was definitely the best decision I have ever made as I found a great job relatively quickly and I felt well prepared to join the world of full-time employment, all due to my placement year experience.

Plymouth is a great city with lots of events going on and beautiful scenery, with the sea right on your doorstep and plenty of beaches to choose from. The nightlife is fantastic and there are ample nights out and University events to choose from. There are plenty of sports clubs and societies to join and always the opportunity to try something new.

The teaching at Plymouth University is excellent. The lectures are stimulating and there is also the opportunity to participate in exciting practical sessions. You are able to participate in lots of real psychological experiments while you are earning your psychology participation points for each year. Plymouth University is also home to some of the best computing, research and lab facilities which really enhance your experience as an undergraduate psychologist.

I have made some amazing lifelong friends that I still see regularly despite us being dotted all over the country now with our new jobs. Your university lecturers are also great contacts to keep for advice in the future.

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I actually started my job prior to graduation. I began applying for jobs shortly after leaving my final year of university (summer of 2014). I had spent my placement year as an Assistant Psychologist (AP) working full time in neuropsychology and although I truly enjoyed this diagnostic work, I was now curious to see what a career in rehabilitation work would be like. I applied for three Research Assistant (RA) jobs and one AP job, which resulted in invitations to two interviews (I was later invited to a third interview after accepting the job I am in currently, the timeline for job applications all vary).

I was unsuccessful in my first interview and successful in my second. I am now an RA at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, investigating the feasibility of using a home-based computerised cognitive therapy to aid in the rehabilitation of memory and attention in stroke survivors. I have been in this role since September 2014 and I am thoroughly enjoying my work.

RA positions are often fixed term, which gives you the great opportunity to gain experience in paid employment in a number of areas. Personally I love clinical work and I have chosen a research based job in which I still experience clinical contact daily when visiting the patients on the study, so this was the perfect balance for me.

Following my RA post I am planning to apply for the Clinical Psychology Doctorate and a PhD, and see which happens first as I would like to complete both.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth University helped me to become more independent. This is true in terms of self-organisation and work-ethic as well as personally and socially. You will realise after a while that all of those “free periods” on your timetable are actually slots in which you are supposed to be doing your uni work!

My dissertation supervisor was immeasurably helpful to me in my final year; providing much-needed support and sound advice throughout this very challenging and emotionally taxing time that all students must go through.

My placement year was fantastic and the skills I gained from that year led me directly into my first graduate job. I worked voluntarily on my year placement as an Assistant Psychologist in the Neuropsychology Department of Derriford Hospital. During the year I administered, scored and interpreted neuropsychological assessments and worked with patients who had a variety of neuropsychological disorders and diseases. I also assisted my supervisor with MSc and Doctorate teaching days at Plymouth University and spent many hours giving assessments on the Acute Stroke Ward.

Studying at Plymouth gave me the confidence to apply for jobs and provided me with the skills I needed to be proficient in my future career endeavours.

Inspired by this story?

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