Gaining Experience Through Voluntary Work Abroad – Blog post 3, by Suma Mohamed

Gaining Experience Through Voluntary Work Abroad – Blog post 3, by Suma Mohamed

Last term we invited all Y3 Psychology students to write a blog post about their psychology-related work experiences and recently we published the winning blog. Four other Y3 students came as runners-up in this competition and here you can read a blog written by one of them, Suma Mohamed. Congratulations Suma!


Suma Mohamed

Gaining Experience Through Voluntary Work Abroad

In the summer of 2016, whilst on holiday in the Maldives, I volunteered at MIPSTAR (Maldives Institute for Psychological Services, Training and Research). There, I worked as an assistant for one of the psychologists, who was carrying out early intervention classes for children with autism and ADHD. During my placement, I worked with young children aged between 2-8 years. My position required me to carry out activities with the children, including assisting them with attentional tasks or running group sessions where the aim was to get children to play with each other. The aim of these sessions was to help with the improvement of skills being affected by the conditions, such as communication and social interaction. Although I only worked there for one month, I was able to see how the children progressed, making me realise how even the slightest bit of help can be extremely beneficial to these children’s lives.

I assisted an extremely passionate woman, a psychologist at the institute who ran early intervention classes. She really inspired me to help these children who may not be receiving the attention they need, especially in a country where psychology is only now becoming prevalent. Prior to this voluntary work, I had very little understanding about both conditions. However, in the little time I had there, I learnt so much about both autism and ADHD and saw first-hand accounts of how the conditions can manifest differently in each child. This experience aided my learning as I covered both conditions as topics in my lectures this year; reflecting on my experience with the children from my time at MIPSTAR and how different each individual was, helped me with to fully comprehend the content that was covered in the lectures.

Before volunteering at MIPSTAR, I was unsure as to what I wanted to do after graduation, but my experience of helping children with developmental conditions has really influenced my career choice. Thus, I am hoping to continue working with both children and adults who are experiencing developmental and mental health conditions. I have gained a variety of skills, which could not have been developed from my degree alone, through my work at MIPSTAR such as interacting with individuals with developmental conditions and learning how to communicate with them. Additionally, I came to realise that the content of the degree is merely scratching the surfaces of such conditions; only after gaining hands-on experience and meeting these individuals did I fully start to understand both the positive and negative impacts that the conditions can have on individuals. I am now thinking of going down a clinical path, and am currently looking to find a job working with individuals with both developmental and mental health conditions before going onto further studies. I really valued this work experience as it has opened my eyes up to the different paths that I could take post-graduation, especially as I was once someone who was uncertain about their career path.