How Placements Helped Me at University and Beyond – Blog post 4, by Jessica Dyson

How Placements Helped Me at University and Beyond – Blog post 4, by Jessica Dyson

Last term we invited all Y3 Psychology students to write a blog post about their psychology-related work experience, here you can read a blog written by Jessica Dyson. Congratulations Jessica!

Jessica Dyson

How Placements Helped Me at University and Beyond

During my Psychology undergraduate degree I have been involved in two placements. Both have helped me decide my third year options, and have guided me towards my future career. While I am still unsure, and a mixture of excited and terrified, about exactly what the future holds, I would have very little direction without these placements.

My first placement was as a research assistant in the baby lab, coding videos for Dr Jeanne Shinskey. I was blind to the research hypothesis to remove the risk of bias, and I was really surprised when the hypothesis was revealed – picture books with flaps are disruptive to infants learning. The study is currently being written-up by Dr Jeanne Shinskey and I am really excited to read the final results. Being a research assistant gave me first-hand knowledge of the importance of considering analysis when designing studies, which made my life a lot easier when it came to running statistics for my third year project. This placement furthered my interest in developmental disorders and encouraged me to pick this module as one of my final year options.

The “Developmental Disorders” module has interacted really well with my second placement; in a secondary school Special Educational Needs (SEN) department. I have been volunteering in SEN for over a year now, and have loved every minute of it. When deciding my final year options, this placement swayed me towards “Educational Psychology” and “Developmental Disorders” modules, which have been amazing. I have always been interested in clinical psychology, particularly in childhood and adolescence. But I am also passionate about educational psychology and how these two fields interact. Working in SEN has incorporated both of my interests, and motivated me to apply to stay at the school as a Learning Support Assistant, mostly for autistic students. This will allow me to work towards a career incorporating my passion for clinical and educational psychology, with the hope of applying to a Masters and a Doctorate in the future.

The interaction between my degree and my SEN placement has been invaluable. My dissertation on adolescent self-harm has helped me to identify learners who might be at risk of self-harm or suicidality, and trying to work towards preventing this, mostly through social support. My degree has also made me aware of SEN that can often go unnoticed, such as developmental language disorders.

In first year, I joined university with high hopes of joining societies, making loads of friends, being involved in volunteering and placements, and making a firm career decision. In the end, I never joined societies and I was a bit of a hermit, but I am so glad I did the placements and they have guided me towards my future career. Therefore, I would recommend to any student, get a placement in anything you think you might be interested in, it cannot hurt but it could help.