Graduate profiles

The flexible, modular structure of our courses means that our graduates leave with different skills and experience depending on their interests. They enter a wide variety of different careers and these profiles will give you an idea of just some of the options open to you.

Health and social care

  • Zoe Alderson, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, East of England Strategic Health Authority

    Zoe Alderson Zoe graduated in 2008 and is training as a clinical psychologist. She is employed by the East of England Strategic Health Authority and currently working in the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She is studying for a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Essex.

    What does your work involve?

    I am on the University of Essex Doctorate in Clinical Psychology course based at the University of Essex and housed within the School of Health and Human Sciences. I study on campus between one-two days per week, and then spend three days out on placement. There are ten of us in my cohort and we either get allocated 6 month or one year placements at various NHS services in North and South Essex for the three year duration of the course.

    My role as a trainee clinical psychologist involves providing assessment and intervention for individuals with various mental health problems including depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders. We have to complete a number of placements for the course including adult mental health, older adult mental health, child and adolescent mental health, learning disabilities, and a specialist service. I am currently on placement with the eating disorders service in Colchester and use different kinds of approaches to inform treatment interventions including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Systemic and Psychodynamic approaches whilst under the supervision of a qualified Clinical Psychologist. The course also involves many, many assignments and requires a 40,000 word thesis on a research topic of our choice at the end!

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I think knowing that you are helping people and empowering them to make changes to improve their own lives. You also get to meet a wide variety of different people including clients and staff and learn an awful lot about yourself and others.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Always having too much to do! It's quite a demanding job because as well as attending university for teaching and being on placement three days per week, you have to fit in all the studying at home too.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current study?

    My degree has given me a solid theoretical and research skills base from which to build on. It also taught me the importance of time keeping and working to deadlines... but I think the key thing that I learned from my degree which I draw upon now is the ability to know when to ask for help and not be afraid to do it. This was always encouraged by the psychology department and it was lovely to know that lecturers' doors were always open.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    Absolutely go for it, it is very worthwhile and rewarding and I guarantee you will never have a boring day at the office...

    Find out more


  • Emma Betts, MSc Mental Health Nursing student

    Emma Betts Emma graduated in 2011 and is studying for an MSc Mental Health Nursing in the School of Health and Human Sciences at Essex.

    What does your course involve?

    The course involves general nurse training as well as more specialised study/training in mental health nursing. We learn about the various bio-psychosocial aspects of mental illness, assessment and diagnosis, treatments and client-centred care. Every few weeks, we go out on placements in various mental healthcare settings to gain practical experience.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I really enjoy the practice-based work, where we research different aspects of mental illness and the most appropriate treatment methods, and apply them to fictitious patients during group discussions – it feels like doing 'real' nursing work, but without all the responsibility.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    There are a lot of assignments and reading to do each week. Instead of just sitting back and paying attention during a lecture, you have to be more proactive in taking part in discussions and contributing useful feedback to the rest of the group.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current study?

    More or less everything that I learned during my degree is useful in some way to my current studies. The social, cognitive and biological aspects of psychology are all relevant to understanding how and why mental illness may occur. Research methods are also an important part of the course – we have to be able to understand the different types of studies carried out in health and social care, and to be able to assess the quality of the evidence for particular treatments.

    What are your plans for the future?

    I plan to finish the course and register as a mental health nurse, although I'm not yet sure in which particular area of mental health I will want to work.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    I would suggest getting some part time or voluntary work in some area of mental health as preparation for the course, and to help in deciding whether or not this type of work is really for you.

    Find out more


  • Ruth Burrell, Assistant Clinical Psychologist

    Ruth Burrell Ruth graduated in 2009 and is an Assistant Clinical Psychologist for Children and Adult Mental Health Services (CAHMS). She specialises in ADHD.

    What does your work involve?

    My position involves working within a multi-disciplinary team, working with children and young adults with suspected or pre-diagnosed ADHD, ranging from 6 to 19 years old. I am involved in undertaking psychometric tests to access the child's IQ and scoring the assessments. I go out to local schools and carry out covert school observations to help the team with formulations (to determine whether ADHD is an appropriate diagnosis). In terms of admin, I am responsible for knowing what stage of the assessment process each patient has reached, and have developed and maintain a database for this purpose. I have a developing role in the intervention of ADHD (which goes alongside medication in some circumstances). I have been working with the team to develop a series of programmes for children and young people, for example a sensory programme, and attention and listening group. I also co-facilitate a parent education group.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Working with patients and their families. Having a valuable role to play within the team.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Having to move a distance from home for assistant posts - so being away from family and friends.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current study?

    My understanding of research has helped me to evaluate recent studies, which have an impact on the area I work in. The stats lessons have also helped me to organise data which I collect for commissioners (a new area which is important for all potential Clinical Psychologist to be aware of).

    What advice would you give to current students?

    To increase your chances of getting a place on the Clinical Psychology doctorate, study hard!!! A first will put you at the top of the pile for interview, then it's just down to your form and references. Saying that, I have not got a first and I hope to get onto a Clinical Psychology doctorate in the next year or so.

    To get your first Assistant Post, I would suggest trying to get some experience. This could be as a nursing assistant or carer. If it is possible for you to get some experience working with a Clinical Psychologist, this will give you an insight into the role of a Clinical Psychologist and whether it is the right choice for you.

    Find out more


  • Paul Galbally, MA Relationship Therapy student, Relate

    Paul Galbally Paul graduated in 2011 and is training as a BACP accredited therapist. He is studying for an MSc Relationship Therapy at Birkbeck College, London. Paul works for Relate, a registered charity dealing with psychotherapy/psychosexual therapy for individuals, couples and families.

    What does your work involve?

    My work/studying run simultaneously, with the clinical placement at Relate providing work in the 'therapeutic setting' over three years. This takes the form of observation of therapy and supervised and unsupervised therapeutic practice, mainly with couples in relationships. The academic course runs for two full days either once or twice per month. The mornings are theory-laden and the afternoons use the theory as a framework to practical therapy. This area of work has traditionally been female dominated, due to it often being part time and unpaid, but more men are now entering the sector.

    How did you find out about this course/job?

    I heard about Relate from my academic mentor, a therapist who recommended their training program. I then contacted them directly. The academic course is run through the Relate Institute.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I love the practical application of psychology, which is something I felt I hadn't really experienced during my undergraduate degree. Being able to interpret a therapeutic situation in relation to psychology is really rewarding - the first time you witness transference or projection in a real life environment gives you chills.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    One of the hardest skills is to remain neutral and not to judge individuals. It can be tough hearing about domestic violence or abuse and to not be affected or to feel like taking sides.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current study?

    Essex University psychology degree was a fantastic grounding as the research skills and depth of theoretical knowledge that I acquired really laid the foundations to understand this type of work. I found the two modules I took in the third year from the psychoanalytic centre in Freud and Jung very helpful. Additionally I found the social and cognitive psychology modules from the psychology undergraduate were very relevant and I keep coming across familiar names and studies in my postgraduate work.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    Be flexible... I had to change my original plans of clinical psychology as my goal after being rejected from their program. I then looked at a PhD at Bath and also psychoanalysis. The main issue I had in applying for all of these was my lack of clinical experience. For any therapy-based study, clinical experience is the main obstacle so be prepared to volunteer or to work unpaid to gain the relevant experience. Finally, work hard as none of these type of jobs accept less than a 2:1 class degree.

    Find out more


  • Alex Hudson, Case Manager, Healthcare RM

    Alex Hudson Alex graduated in 2011. She now works as a Case Manager at Healthcare RM, an occupational health company.

    How did you find out about this job?

    Through glosjobs.co.uk - a website advertising jobs in my local area.

    What does your work involve?

    We are a small occupational health company working for several large clients across the country. Case managers deal with mental health and musculoskeletal "carelines" where employees can call in confidentially to access support both through ourselves and through treatment we arrange for them. We work alongside CBT therapists and physiotherapists to ensure we are sending employees for the most appropriate treatment. We also jointly administer healthcare schemes with AXA and Simply Health for some of our clients, and provide case management services where line managers refer employees who have health issues which are affecting their work and we help them return to or stay at work. We use the biopsychosocial approach to ensure we are looking at all the issues that are affecting employees. Since starting I have been thoroughly trained in CBT and common musculoskeletal problems, as well as working alongside a team of nurses who educate us on health issues falling outside of these spectrums. The knowledge I have gained is vast and incredibly useful.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Being able to help those who need it, and follow the process from beginning to end - although support is available through the NHS this often carries a long wait and cannot deal with external factors, such as work issues, which may be affecting an employee. It often takes less courage to pick up the phone and start the process of getting help than it does to visit a GP face to face.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Managing the psychological aspects of employees on sickness absence. Often individuals don't even realise they have negative beliefs about their health problem which is getting in the way of them leading a normal life.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    The knowledge gained from social and emotional psychology which focuses on how factors interact to affect behaviour.

    What are your plans for the future?

    Our company is growing fast, with new clients being secured on a regular basis. Plans for growth are huge and I have recently become involved in managing particularly complex cases, for example those involving disability or employees’ liability claims. I have expressed an interest in further training in the area of employment law and am hoping that I have joined at a key time which will ensure I can continue to progress with the company as it expands.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    Think outside the box! Look into larger companies such as AXA PPP, Simply Health or others, where the work is likely to be less involved in the biopsychosocial areas which are more likely to interest psychology students, but where you will get a great insight into smaller companies like mine where you can pursue what interests you.

    Find out more


  • Stuart Keeble, Senior Public Health Epidemiologist, NHS Suffolk

    Stuart Keeble Stuart graduated in 2008. He now works as a Senior Public Health Epidemiologist for NHS Suffolk.

    What does your work involve?

    As an epidemiologist I study the distribution and determinants of disease and ill health within the population. This involves providing public health practitioners and partner organizations with intelligence and evidence to prioritise investment, target health interventions towards groups and communities with the greatest health needs, monitor health outcomes and identify health inequalities. Tasks include the production of reports on disease specific topics such as diabetes or wider strategy documents, advising colleagues on methodology for research and intelligence based projects and the production of various outputs using statistical methods.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    The most enjoyable aspect of the role is its variability; in the morning I could be helping to target are areas with high smoking prevalence and in the afternoon writing a strategic document on health and wellbeing in Suffolk. I also derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my work directly influence policy and practice as well as championing the needs of those experiencing the worse health outcomes.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    One of the bigger challengers is providing robust analysis based on sound methodology in very short time frames. This often requires an element of pragmatism. A further challenge is trying to communicate complex statistical findings in a manner which is accessible to non specialist.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    The statistical knowledge and skills obtained during the degree have provided an excellent foundation for my current role. The empirical basis of the degree and the techniques taught as part of the research methods modules helped me develop an enquiring and questioning mind, which is an important attribute within public health. The module on health psychology provided a good understanding of theories underlying health behaviours and behaviour change.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    Try and get some work experience through volunteering with a public health department. Perhaps take a Masters course in public health or epidemiology.

    Find out more


  • Jo Leggett, Therapy Support Worker, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust

    Jo graduated in 2011. She now works as a Therapy Support Worker for the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust.

    Where do you work?

    In a "supported house" in Colchester.

    How did you find out about this job?

    I worked for BIRT (Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust) on a 'bank' basis whilst completing my degree and a full time position became available when I graduated.

    What does your work involve?

    We provide 24/7 support for four individuals of varying ages who have an acquired brain injury. My duties involve general household tasks, personal care, supporting the service users in accessing the community and completing incident forms, support plans and weekly programmes. My key role is to promote independence and rehabilitation in a supportive environment. I have also recently commenced a Social Skills group which I run weekly, and also have been given the responsibility of collating behavioural incident forms to pass on to the Assistant Psychologist.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I find it very rewarding when I create a support plan that, when put in place, has a positive outcome and makes a noticeable difference in a service user's day-to-day life. I also find it particularly rewarding that with my knowledge from my degree I can offer something different to the team I work with.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    Knowledge of the location and functions of different areas of the brain has proved invaluable in understanding how a service user's brain injury will have affected their personality, emotions, thoughts, etc. Also the writing style and technical language I developed during my degree has proved useful in writing reports and support plans.

    What are your plans for the future?

    I would like to train in Forensic Psychology in the future. I intend to work full time for BIRT for at least a year and then hopefully with my relevant experience, apply for an Assistant Psychologist post.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    Work experience is key - in such a competitive field and with the current job market it is so important to put yourself out there and build up your contacts. Not only does work experience build on your knowledge, it is also very helpful in job interviews and when completing applications with competency/scenario-based questions.

    Find out more


  • Kelly Simmons, Child Support Worker

    Kelly graduated in 2011. She now works as a Child Support Worker in Harlow.

    How did you find out about this job?

    From communitycare.co.uk

    What does your work involve?

    I work with families who have had to flee their homes due to domestic violence. My main role is to support the children living in refuge until they leave, which can be between 3 months and 2 years. I do one-to-one support work as well as running therapeutic groups for the children exploring things like keeping themselves safe, how to deal with different emotions, and looking to the future.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Building up relationships with children who trust very few people, and helping them take positive steps towards their future.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Not having all the answers to the difficult questions children can ask, and not being able to fix it for them, and working with a child and building a relationship only to come in the next day to find they've left.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    Prioritising workload, and taking into account all of the factors that may be affecting that situation; scientific or social. My Psychology degree has given me a new way of looking at situations, and seeing how there are so many factors involved in a given outcome.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    Don't go into it with any expectations or assumptions about anyone. You need to be open-minded and flexible in your approach, as everyone deals with their experiences in very different ways. There are lots of different settings you can make a difference in, such as therapy, schools, alternative education programmes or charities -- so explore them all.


Education

  • Victoria Laudham, PGCE student

    Victoria Laudham Victoria graduated in 2011. She is now studying for a PGCE in the Lifelong Learning Sector at University Campus Suffolk.

    How did you find out about this course?

    I decided that I wanted to go into teaching whilst in my 2nd year at Essex. I began researching the different subject areas and found that GCSE Psychology was a fairly new subject area within schools. This triggered me to consider teaching A-level Psychology; I then looked for institutes online which offered the PGCE in Lifelong Learning.

    What does your course involve?

    I currently attend the PGCE course two half days a week. Here, we learn about educational theories, teaching strategies, reflective practice, curriculum design and many other aspects of teaching in the lifelong learning sector! The remainder of my time is spent on placement. I currently teach two AS psychology and one A2 psychology class each week. I also teach psychology to mature students on an Access to Higher Education course. At the start of the course I was only required to observe and assist my mentor's teaching. This progressed onto team teaching (I would take half a lesson) and I am now due to deliver an entire module to the AS groups on Remembering and Forgetting without the aid of my mentor.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    The most enjoyable aspect of my PGCE is the placement because I am gaining valuable teaching experience. I genuinely enjoy teaching psychology to the students and having an influence on the knowledge which they receive.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    I would propose that the most challenging aspect of teaching is the time constraints. I have two modules running parallel from the PGCE which consist of large pieces of coursework. In addition to this, I plan, prepare and deliver lessons each week as well as marking homework.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    I do feel that my degree has equipped me with good time-management skills which are transferable to my current studies. Also, the research skills that I gained from my degree are used on a daily basis - eg being critical, objective, writing reports, giving presentations etc.

    What are your plans for the future?

    To find employment teaching psychology in a sixth form or college setting. I also hope to pursue a distance learning MSc in Teaching Psychology.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    My advice to anyone wanting to go into teaching is to gain as much experience as you can. I gained experience through volunteering as a mentor to students at a high school and by assisting in teaching English to refugee women. I also gained three weeks paid work experience with the psychology department of a sixth form centre through the Student Associate Scheme.

    Find out more


  • Samantha McKay, Teaching Assistant in a Pupil Referral Unit

    Samantha graduated in 2010. She now works as a Teaching Assistant in a Pupil Referral Unit. She works with children aged 5-11 who have been excluded from mainstream schools.

    What does your work involve?

    I work as part of a team trying to re-engage children with the national curriculum in a variety of ways. We have to be flexible because the mainstream school environment has not worked or these children for a variety of different reasons. The aim of the centre is to re-integrate the children back to school. We offer other activities such as cooking or forest school as well as PE and art/ design technology. The ethos of the school is to help the children improve their social skills as well as practical ones.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Building positive relationships with children who predominantly come from socially deprived backgrounds, helping them to see that they can achieve their goals and ambitions and that there are people who care about them and their future.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    The majority of children who come to us arrive with very aggressive and physical behavioural issues; being spat at has to be one of the most degrading things I have endured above and beyond being kicked and punched and having a garden spade swung in my direction! I have to say this behaviour has become less of an issue now, because sanctions and boundaries have been put in place with the arrival of a new head of centre and the children are now responding very positively to these.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    The modules/courses which have most benefitted me in my current role are: Brain and Behaviour, Cognitive Psychology, Personality and Individual Differences, Cognitive Neuropsychology, Emotion and Reading Development and Dyslexia. Of course the skills I use the most are patience and listening.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    My advice would be to definitely do a degree in psychology. For those mature students with children (which I was), going on guilt trips about the time you do or do not spend with your children, or whether the hoovering needs doing etc, is a waste of time and valuable energy, three years passes by incredibly quickly. Choose your third year options wisely; this could be paramount to your overall degree classification.

    As for advice for my current job, it is a double edged sword. On one side it can be very rewarding, however on the other side it can be very physically and mentally draining, and working with other outside agencies like social services for example can be extremely frustrating. At the end of the day I love my job, but my plan is to teach in a mainstream school at primary level.

    Find out more


  • Samantha-Jane Moore, Psychology Teacher, Wymondham High Sixth Form

    Samantha-Jane graduated in 2005. She now teaches psychology to sixth form students.

    What does your work involve?

    I current teach 70 AS and 28 A2 students the Edexcel A Level syllabus. I have been here since 2007 and hold a PGCE in Post Compulsory Education.

    How did you find about about this job?

    Via the Times Education Supplement.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    The most enjoyable aspect of my job is seeing students achieve highly and develop a 'passion' for a subject they have never studied before.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    The most challenging aspect is working to tight deadlines, with marking, modular exams and report writing.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    Teaching Psychology means I use everything I learnt in my degree!

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    Teaching a subject which you immensely enjoy and which hopefully inspires others enough for them to pursue a degree is, in my mind, the most rewarding job there is! Strangely enough the founding member of my department and current teacher in charge of Psychology is also an Essex Psychology graduate!

    Find out more


Justice system and rehabilitation

  • Amy Sinadinos, Recovery Worker, Crime Reduction Initiative Recovery Service

    Amy Sinadinos Amy graduated in 2011. She now works as a Recovery Worker at CRI (Crime Reduction Initiative) Recovery Service, a prescribing and treatment service for adults who abuse drugs and alcohol.

    Where do you work?

    I work at CRI (Crime Reduction Initiative) Recovery Service based in Ipswich. We are a prescribing service for people aged 18+ that abuse drugs and alcohol. We offer a wide range of treatments to help them in recovery such as group therapy, one to one counselling, and acupuncture.

    What does your work involve?

    I generally have one to one sessions with clients focusing on their recovery in treatment (basically CBT). We also work closely with other agencies to help clients improve their lives, such as housing providers, Social Services, probation, and health outreach services. I also run a group therapy session called Smart Recovery, which tries to get stable clients to improve their lives through motivational interviewing and challenging their belief systems. We also arrange for clients to go to Residential Rehabilitation and relocate to new areas to start a new life.

    How did you get this job?

    After I finished my degree at Essex I looked for different jobs and voluntary positions in substance misuse and eating disorders. I found a voluntary position available here at CRI. I began a training programme with them last October and volunteered three times a week until April when I was offered temporary work as a Recovery Worker. Throughout my time volunteering I also went on many free training sessions available with the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol team. After 6 weeks temporary work a vacancy came up for a permanent Recovery Worker position and the manager recommended I apply for the position. I had the interview and was offered the job!

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I am very passionate about my job. The most enjoyable aspect is that it is so rewarding being able to help people change their lives for the better and making a real difference.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Sometimes because of the nature of our clientele their behaviour can be challenging. However, when working in the field you are trained on how to work with resilient clients.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    Many skills from my degree have assisted me in the workplace, such as working under pressure and meeting deadlines. The knowledge I acquired during my degree has been invaluable when being aware of my own and others behaviours.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    It is a very rewarding job but can also be very challenging. I would recommend going to as many free training sessions as possible; look specifically at your local Drug and Alcohol team and County Council websites. I would also recommend volunteering – it enabled me to gain lots of experience in the field!

    Find out more


  • Rachael Turner, Offending Behaviour Facilitator/Psychological Assistant, HM Prison Service

    Rachael Turner Rachael graduated in 2007. She now works as an Offending Behaviour Facilitator/Psychological Assistant for HM Prison Service.

    What does your work involve?

    My role basically involves delivering offending behaviour programmes to offenders with the aim of reducing reoffending. One of the two I run is based on developing general thinking skills such as decision making and problem solving and the other is an emotional-management-based programme. For the roles I had to go on 2 weeks residential training (one week per programme) which gives you the basics; however the real learning comes when you get into the group room and start delivering.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Being in the sessions and hearing the different stories that the group members have. It’s also rewarding to see the changes and hear about how the new skills they have learned will help the group members to lead offence-free lives in the future.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Sometimes it’s not always the right time for someone to undertake a programme so the behaviour can be challenging - it’s just about trying to find the best way to manage that behaviour. We also get people with a range of mental health problems, such as anxiety, so it can be a challenge at times to identify ways to overcome this without preventing someone from accessing treatment.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your work?

    I think the cognitive modules I did at Essex were the most relevant for the role I currently do. The programmes are based on a CBT approach so it’s about restructuring maladaptive thinking patterns and re-learning harmful behaviours.

    What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing this kind of work?

    From my point of view, doing a general psychology degree was the best thing to start with. I didn't know I wanted to work in the prison service until my final year; I was then able to specialise when I went on to do my Masters in forensic psychology. I would say keep your options open but also have an idea of what you want to do and get some experience. From experience, don't expect to leave uni and walk into a job, it’s just too competitive, so the more experience you have to match your academic skills, the better you will be!

    Find out more


Training and consulting

  • Rosalind-Jane Irwin, Analyst, Accenture

    Rosalind-Jane Irwin Rosalind-Jane graduated in 2011. She worked in Singapore as an Analyst for global consulting firm Accenture.

    What does your work involve?

    I am in a change management role. Accenture focuses on IT consulting, implementing new IT and technology systems to improve the efficiency of (usually large) companies. My role is to help companies adjust to the changes and make the process as streamlined as possible. I identify who will be most affected by the changes and produce training plans to assist them. I also help prepare case study materials to be used in interviews. This encouraged me to bring out my creative side and gain a deep insight into how interviews work.

    How did you find out about this job?

    My best friend went for an interview with Accenture, at her interview they asked if she would be able to recommend anyone to the company that would be interested in working in the Singapore office. She said me! As I am from a psychology background I didn't know if I would be a strong enough candidate, however in actual fact being a psychology graduate played to my advantage as my interviewers (I had a set of four interviews) felt that I could bring a different perspective to the company.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    The most enjoyable aspect of what I do is interacting with such a diverse range of people every day. The key to doing well in management consulting is to network. You learn a lot, not only about other people but also about yourself and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Accenture is made up of incredibly intelligent people. You have to learn very quickly and put in long hours if necessary. However, the challenging environment encourages you to push yourself and achieve things you never thought you would be able to master.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current work?

    Put simply my degree in psychology taught me a lot about people and why they do what they do. As my role is very people orientated, having a background in psychology helps me to communicate well with a range of diverse personalities and keep an open mind.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    Joining a big company with a good name is definitely a good path to follow straight out of university. It looks great on your CV and exposes you to lots of different roles and people. If you feel like a role doesn't fit you, it is quite easy to try something else out within the company. Management consulting is not a 9-5 job; the hours tend to be long, especially on a busy project. However, it is very rewarding when you see your hard work pay off. You also tend to work very closely with your team which creates strong relationships and gives you sense of team morale. Most of all, never be afraid to try things out and take the opportunities that come your way - sometimes they work for you, sometimes they don't but in the process you learn so much about the world, yourself and other people. In my opinion, that type of knowledge is irreplaceable.

    Find out more


  • William Skidmore, Online Content Supervisor, FME Training

    William graduated in 2011. He works as an Online Content Supervisor and Office Manager for FME training, a financial training company.

    What does your work involve?

    Lots of little bits and pieces really as it's a small company, which is good as it builds up experience. I'm currently doing the accounts for the company and for the TV company that I was working for before, as well as other little admin jobs like rearranging question banks. The other branch of the work is making financial training videos and putting them online. This involves editing, shooting, and mucking around with computer software. I also do a fair amount of research into e-learning and what current market leaders are doing. Every now and then I have to do a bit of stats and I helped analyse the exam results for the last intake of students.

    How did you find out about this job?

    I met the boss through my old job as a TV Development assistant. He offered me the job!

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    Video editing/e-learning stuff. The accounts can be more interesting than you'd imagine though! I'm quite nosey.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Trekking to Reigate from South East London every morning, it's a bit of a mission!

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current work?

    Stats was essential. I did A level maths but it was all pure stuff and a bit useless in the real world. PS488 was really good and helped me bridge the gap between reams of numbers and something that's actually useful. Learning to work independently was very important, too. Having a first is handy as both people I've worked for seemed to be impressed by it.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    Do stats, incredibly useful and employers seemed to like the fact I was remotely mathsy. It's also the only thing you can get 100% in!

    Find out more


Marketing

  • Marc Robinson, Account Executive, Litmus Tests Market Research

    Marc Robinson Marc graduated in 2010 and works as an Account Executive for Litmus Tests Market Research.

    What does your work involve?

    Giving presentations to clients, going for meetings all over the country and office duties like running databases and running analysis for clients.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    The fact that I can see my work is used at high levels with my clients and that what I do with a computer confuses them.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Keeping up with clients' demands and keeping them all happy.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current work?

    Using SPSS a lot is the main thing I took from my degree as well as the ability to create and give presentations. I would also say being able to tell a story with numbers to people who don't understand numbers is key too.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    There isn't just one path after doing psychology and no doors are completely closed as you pick up a lot of skills in the degree.

    Find out more

    Many websites advertise jobs in the private sector, including Jobsite, Reed and Monster. You can also use our Employability and Careers Centre's CareerHub service.

Postgraduate research

  • Annelie Harvey, PhD student

    Alex Hudson Annelie graduated in 2010 and completed her MSc Research Methods in Psychology in 2011. She is now completing her doctoral research at Essex.

    Did you take a Masters course before your PhD?

    I completed my MSc in Research Methods in Psychology in 2011. This really prepared me for PhD life by providing the chance to carry out another research project and enabling advanced training in statistical and critical analysis.

    Who funds your work?

    I was lucky enough to be awarded funding by the Department of Psychology at Essex. The studentship provides me with a research budget, living costs, and tuition fees. I am aware that there are also other funding bodies available and there is always the opportunity to self-fund your degree.

    What is your research topic – what are you investigating?

    I am primarily interested in the psychology of justice. More specifically, I am investigating the tactics individuals employ when faced with an episode of injustice. Research has shown that people have a functional belief that the world is a fair and just place, and our view of a just world is threatened when we observe the suffering of an innocent victim. My research investigates the strategies that people adopt to relieve this threat, such as blaming the victim for their misfortune.

    What does your work involve?

    My experiments are either based in the lab or online and involve realistic scenarios and questionnaire items. This allows me to actively threaten participants’ 'belief in a just world' and measure their responses. I have also recently been altering the level of processing of participants, by having them complete a taxing secondary task or allowing more deliberative thinking by inducing a sense of accountability.

    What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you currently do?

    I find designing an experiment and analysing the results exciting. It is really gratifying to see a theory in action within your own data. Also, being able to contribute to a field of literature, which you have studied for years, is very rewarding.

    What is the most challenging aspect of what you currently do?

    Sometimes studies do not go as planned. However, I have learnt that unexpected findings allow for exploration into other directions and avenues of research, which may have not been previously considered. I have also learnt that many things can affect data and skew results, and encountering these hurdles has increased my awareness and, above all, made me a more meticulous researcher.

    Which of the skills that you got from your degree do you use most in your current work?

    I think a whole range of skills from my degree are used in my everyday PhD study, including training in the use of statistical software, research experience, and a general background knowledge of the literature. I feel my psychology degree has laid the building blocks to succeed in research and I am building on these early skills every day.

    What advice would you give to current students?

    I would advise students interested in pursuing a PhD to find a topic they are really interested in, as well as an academic who shares similar interests.

    Find out more