The importance of not being idle: Gathering valuable work experience as an undergraduate – Blog post 1, by Mehreen Mirza

The importance of not being idle: Gathering valuable work experience as an undergraduate – Blog post 1, by Mehreen Mirza


Last term we invited all Y3 Psychology students to write a blog post about their psychology-related work experiences. An important goal of this competition was to inspire and encourage current Year 1 and 2 students to actively look for similar experiences. We are pleased to announce that the winner of the Year 3 Blog Competition is Mehreen Mirza. Congratulations Mehreen!!! You can read Mehreen’s blog below. Four other Y3 students (Rebecca Hinch, Jessica Dyson, Suma Mohamed and Sophie Rozanski) came as runners-up in this competition and their blogs will be published in the subsequent weeks. Watch this space! Congratulations all!!!


The importance of not being idle: Gathering valuable work experience as an undergraduate

by Mehreen Mirza

At the start of my second year of university I began working at The National Autistic Society, which is the UK’s largest charity supporting people with autism spectrum conditions. My role included running social after-school clubs and attending half-term outings for children and young people with autism (aged 6-18). We ran groups for around five to ten children and young people, who were able to meet up weekly and socialise. During these sessions, we would do a range of activities based on what the people in the group enjoyed, such as board games, crafts and good old-fashioned running around. The social clubs were a space in which the children and young people had the opportunity to be themselves. These spaces are really important, as it can be hard to express yourself when growing up, especially in a society that may not understand the experience of having a condition like autism, which can involve social and communicational difficulties. As part of this role, I also attended outings in the school holidays to do activities such as bowling, or going to the zoo. The days were exhausting, but totally worth it as the kids enjoyed them a lot!

Whilst working in this role, I attended multiple social clubs around Surrey during term time, which ran for a couple of hours in the evening. This flexible schedule fitted perfectly around my studies and there were lots of opportunities for further training. I enjoyed my time there immensely and learnt a lot from the year I was there. The kids I worked with were so enthusiastic and funny, I found that talking to and playing games with them was a really enjoyable way to get valuable experience in working with individuals with additional needs. Working with them was really helpful for me as I was fascinated by developmental psychology and child psychology; this was a brilliant opportunity for me to gain an insight into a subject I was interested in and something I had not done before. After working with these young people, I knew that I wanted a career in supporting adolescents with additional needs as I found it really enjoyable and fulfilling.

Personally, I think it is really important to get work experience during your time at university, especially during first and second year when you are not as busy with final year projects and exams. Volunteering and working in different places gives you an idea of whether you would like to do that job in the future. By gaining as much experience as possible you can cultivate a better appreciation of what job you enjoy, what you are good at, and the potential skills you can work on, as well as what you might want to steer clear of in the future! University is the best time to do this, as there are plenty of opportunities to seek paid or voluntary work. You could earn some money as well as gaining invaluable experience. If you are looking for something like this, I would absolutely suggest considering looking for paid and voluntary role at charities, it is rewarding and helpful as well as beneficial for your future. Around Royal Holloway there are many projects you can contribute to, I would definitely recommend finding something you are interested in and getting involved.