Looking back over the year, I have been taken aback with what I have achieved since completing my BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and graduating from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015. I was lucky enough to have secured a position with the Office for National Statistics which was dependent upon my graduating with a 2:1 degree – which I did!
Upon starting the job I was wondering ‘Would my degree be useful for this job?’ and ‘Would this degree help me progress further?’. The answer to the both questions was yes. When I started with the ONS I had a case of the statistical jitters. As it turns out, the experience was great and the ONS was an excellent stepping stone to starting my career in the right direction.
I worked in Methodology for the ONS. This is the department that quality control all the methods used to gain the data and fix any problems that may occur. It was a demanding role and I had to use a variety of statistical methods that I learned from the research and statistics part of the Psychology degree. I then had to build up my statistical knowledge, for example to learn more about weighting and sampling. In addition I had to learn coding for specialist statistical software to be able to analyse and assess whether the statistics were correct or not. Another area that was important from the Psychology degree was report writing. In the ONS I was required to present my results in professional reviews and reports. As a student it is sometimes difficult to understand the importance of report writing especially when the deadlines come closer, however I found that I was in good stead to clearly communicate my findings.
I was proud to be able to work on a few important projects that influenced decisions within the Government. I was also keen to develop my skills and so I got involved with different groups including the Research, Analytical and Statistician Committee and the Positive Action Group. I was President for the Psychological Society at Cardiff Met and involved with the BPS which I feel gave me the confidence to be part of these ONS committees.
As my time drew close to the end of my ONS contract I knew I had to start looking for another job or apply for a promotion. So I applied for a position within Ministry of Defence working for the Defence, Equipment and Support Group. I attended the assessment day having met the competitive job specification, and there were lots of psychologists there. Six weeks later I got the promotion with the MoD as Commercial Officer (Management Level) dealing with budgets of up to £14 million.
All in all, I found that all of the degree was relevant in my working environment. I use writing skills I learned from the degree as well as being open minded to different theories. The degree taught me good work management skills, which I needed on a daily basis due to the high demand of work. I also found that the Psychology degree helped me with my communication skills, which is essential in any job and helped me to get the promotion.
My advice for students is to start planning ahead. If you have the time, take the opportunity to get involved with committees and expand your work experience. Doing a degree with Cardiff Metropolitan University gave me this opportunity and the lecturers there gave me the chance to make my life a better one.
On Monday 4 April 2016 the Applied Cognitive Expertise held its first networking event at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The day was an opportunity for researchers, both inside and outside the university, to disseminate and discuss a range of diverse topics in an informal and relaxed environment.
Sessions were held on Distraction and language; Decision-making and reasoning; Emotion, mood, and cognition; and Hedonic cognition. Within those sessions, for example, Dr Robert Mayr talked about how native languages sound foreign, Dr Nick Perham informed us how a deficit in processing order information may explain some features of dyslexia, Dr Niall Galbraith explored how jealousy and paranoia are (not) associated with data gathering, Dr Andy Watt explained how decision-making in psychiatry is not as optimal as it should be, Professor Phil Reed examined how schizotypy and internet use are related to each other, Dr Deiniol Skillicorn focused on a novel Stroop methodology to explain cognitive control deficits schizotypy, and Dr Martin Graff regaled us with decision-making in online dating. To round things off, Professor Bob Snowden gave us an insight into the cognitive underpinnings of psychopathic individuals replete with fascinating anecdotes of his research experience.
We are very grateful to all those who presented and attended and hope to organise a similar event next year.
Some feedback from the event:
Professor Phil Reed from Swansea University felt that the “day achieved three main things: 1) it allowed me to make some contacts with people doing similar work to me, so that we can develop research collaborations; 2) it kept me up to date with research in the local area, and a bit beyond; and 3) it was a good research conference in itself”.
Professor Bill Macken from Cardiff University said that “the Applied Cognitive Expertise networking event organised at Cardiff Metropolitan Uni provided a broad and stimulating forum for discussion of the of ways in which the methods and concepts of cognitive psychology could be usefully applied to a variety of ‘real world’ settings and problems. As a showcase for the range of research expertise in the area, it will hopefully provide a starting point for valuable collaborations in the future”.
Dr Martin Graff from the University of South Wales commented that “the day enabled me to discuss and make contact with several colleagues from different institutions sharing research interests to my own. I have now had the opportunity to contact delegates with the idea of conducting further research in cognate areas”.
Dr Simon Dawson from Cardiff Metropolitan University initially was “a little sceptical to attend as many aspects were not directly related to my field of expertise. However, with the high calibre of speakers, well designed presentations and regular breaks to interact made the day worthwhile. There was a clear synergy between each speaker, highlighting the sterling efforts the psychology department had put in organising this event. This has opened ideas for potential collaborative research within areas I had not considered before. Looking forward to the next event”.
Professor Bob Snowden from Cardiff University “was really pleased to get a chance to hear of these activities taking place on our doorstep. I hope the enterprise of the Applied Cognitive Expertise Network can continue to bring together scientists and practioners from our region to form strategic collaborations and exchange ideas”.
In the spring term of 2012 the Department of Applied Psychology ran a volunteering fair for students. The idea was to bring in third sector organisations so that students could find out about different volunteering opportunities. It went well, and while chatting about it later someone had the idea that we could build on the fair by having a full day that would include information for each level, keynote speakers and, of course, the volunteering fair. At the end of February, we held our third undergraduate conference, with attendees from all years and the Foundation in Social Sciences Programme too. We seem to have come a long way in four years.
The day started at 1030 with around 300 delegates in the main hall. Dr Dan Heggs introduced the day, before a brief talk by careers, and then the keynote speaker, who had come all the way from Aberystwyth University. Saffron Passam talked about her doctoral research, looking at employability and identity. Saffron started with outlining a brief history of employability considering a shift in thinking from a focus on the unemployable, to the idea of a career and improving productivity as part of human capital, before introducing the idea of the protean worker who has choice, skills and is flexible. Saffron then talked about the findings from her research, looking at what employability means for students completing degrees. Saffron’s talk was an excellent way to start the day, with a focus on skills and how they can be seen but also as a way of thinking about how psychology can be used to understand and grasp complex issues. Saffron’s enthusiasm and care for her topic shone through, and that was really appreciated by all.
The year groups then went their different ways, for sessions that would help them prepare for the next level of the programme, and also to later meet volunteer partners over lunch at the fair. For students already volunteering it was an opportunity to see other areas of work, and for those considering where they might like to gain experience they could see a number of our partners. There was also an opportunity to find out about Erasmus exchanges and applied projects with partners.
The final session of the day included presentation from Rachel Roberts and Stuart Abbott about the Healthy University initiative, and was followed by the keynote talk by Dr Debbie Clayton entitled Psychology Isn’t Just About Reading Minds. These two showed how we all need to be able to recognise our skills, and to be able to work together to improve our environments. Debbie talked about COAL (http://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/health/research/Pages/Center-for-Outdoor-Activities-and-Leisure.aspx) and her research in outdoor activity showing how outdoor and green exercise, linking how psychology students have the skills and knowledge appropriate for helping meet policy agendas for the Welsh Government’s Future Generations Act (http://gov.wales/topics/people-and-communities/people/future-generations-bill/future-generations-act-video/?lang=en).
Catherine Harrison from Career Development Services said ‘Being part of the conference and having an information stand at the employability event was a great way of meeting students, talking to them about work experience opportunities and making job applications.’
The presentations at the beginning and end of the day offered an opportunity to critically reflect on the purpose the day, programme and skills gained through it. As always, thanks need to go to Alison, Helen G., Nick, Leanne E., and Shamima, and staff and especially students for helping out on the day. We look forward now to next year!
Research provides the foundation for understanding psychological phenomena that anyone interested in our discipline will read or hear about. It also provides skills and techniques to explore and understand social phenomena and also to ascertain whether claims about the world are valid, reliable and ultimately true.
This week witnessed we held our inaugural Poster Conference in which Level 6 students presented posters of their final year research projects to members of staff and also Level 4 and 5 students. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to show their enthusiasm and knowledge of their chosen project to an eager audience who may be participating in those studies (Level 4 and 5 students) or marking their work. Further, it gave an opportunity for Level 4 and 5 students to see what kinds of studies can be undertaken within our department which should provide plenty of food for thought when considering their research projects over the next two years.
To round off the event, our keynote speaker was Dr Katherine Shelton from Cardiff University who spoke about her research looking at the background and needs of young people who have been homeless. The timely talk was an excellent example of how psychology research and theory can be applied to better understand important social issues and how this can lead to better support for people in need.
At the end of the day, staff and students enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine to celebrate Xmas and the end of term.
Dr Dan Heggs said “This was an excellent event, which helps bring all students together. It fits really well with the careers conference we have later in the year, and reminds us about how psychology touches on so many areas of life. I enjoyed the way that the variety of student projects could be seen and was really impressed by the quality of their work and range of their interests. They all did really well”
Dr Nick Perham, with help from Shamima our administrator, deserves big thanks for arranging and organising everything.
We look forward to our second Poster Conference next year. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2016!
At the end of March 2012 we published our first blog, https://psychcardiffmet.wordpress.com/2012/03/. Over the years the blog has achieved our goals of providing longer pieces of news from the department, from the programmes, and, of course, from our students. Three years later we have now reached our 50th blog, having published, on average, more than one blog per month.
In that time, we have had more than 8500 views, with visitors from over 80 countries. Unsurprisingly, most visitors to the site are from the UK, yet we have had visitors from all corners of the globe, including Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, to Australia, many African countries and then South North American countries too. The map below is a glimpse of our global readership:
In that time we have posted on social events, graduation and the undergraduate conferences we have organised. More excitingly, and often with more views, are posts from students. We have had posts on student projects, on attending conferences, on Erasmus exchanges, and on volunteering experiences across the world.
Looking back through three years of posts is a nice reminder of the things that we have been doing, and also of things that our students have done. The best thing about the blog is how it tells stories of what we are about in supporting students to get the degrees they want, and especially how students get involved in all sorts of things and do brilliantly in so many ways. Dr Lalage Sanders, Head of the Department of Applied Psychology, writes: “We are so proud of our blog, of the successes it describes, the variety of topics we cover, especially the spotlight on individual student stories and we are thrilled by worldwide extent of our readership!”
We look forward to the future and the next 50 posts, and hope that the variety and range of events continues to grow and that students continue to astound us with all that they are doing. Of course, if you’d like to let us know then please do get in touch, and we may well ask for a post from you!
One of our final year students, Stef Slack, is on an Erasmus exchange with one of our partners, in Turkey. She has written a brief blog about her experience so far for us.
Can you tell me what prompted your interest in the Erasmus programme?
Two years ago I worked as a summer camp counselor in the USA. When I returned I knew that all I wanted to do was see the world! The following year I worked in an orphanage for deaf and disabled children in India, which was a massive culture shock. But it inspired me to learn more about new and different cultures, and to have lots more exciting adventures. After returning to university I saw an Erasmus advertisement and I knew this would allow me to do all of these things and more, so of course I applied straight away!
Have you learnt any Turkish? How have you found it so far?
I’ve learnt a few words, but Turkish is so different from any language I’ve been taught before. It’s hard! They are offering elementary Turkish classes at the university though so maybe I’ll get better!
Merhaba – Hello
Teşekkürler – Thank you
Su – Water
Güle güle – Goodbye
Do you speak any other languages?
Unfortunately no. I’ve met so many people here from all over the world, some who can speak three languages! So this has inspired me! I feel so lazy.
How have you prepared for your visit?
I made sure to start my dissertation before I left. I completed my ethics forms for Isik and Cardiff Met, did my interview schedule, consent forms and started my proposal. I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall behind, as I thought it might be difficult to keep on top of everything whilst also trying to adjust to Turkish life.
How familiar are you with Turkey and Turkish life? Have you been before?
I visited Bodrum in the south of Turkey about 4 years ago. It was beautiful but very different from Istanbul! It was full of English holidaymakers, whereas Istanbul is very culturally diverse.
How are you feeling about attending lectures and writing assignments in a Turkish university?
I’ve been nervous about the style of teaching, as this is my final year and I really want to get a good grade. I’ve had a few classes so far though and all of the lecturers speak good English. I know that some of my friends have teachers who don’t speak any English (even though it is meant to be an English class) so I think I’m lucky! I’ve made lots of Turkish friends in class too. They have been so friendly and welcoming to Erasmus students!
What are you most looking forward to about the visit?
I am most looking forward to seeing more of Turkey and spending more time with the people I have met. I have met people from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Turkey of course! We have all become so close in just a few weeks, and are already planning trips to see each other again. I know I’ve made friends for life. We’ve travelled to some amazing places in Turkey – staying in the centre of Istanbul, spending the weekend on the Prince’s Islands, and road tripping down to Izmir. Last weekend we visited Pamukkale, which are natural thermal pools. It was beautiful!
Also, how are you finding it so far?
I am having so much fun I don’t want to go home! I would recommend Erasmus to any one. I feel so lucky that I have been given the chance to experience all of this.
Evidently, there are lots of great opportunities in the Erasmus programme to see more of the world, and have a great time while completing your studies. The Erasmus programme is a great way to study abroad. If you are interested in finding out more about opportunities within the Psychology Department come and speak to our Erasmus co-ordinator Clare Glennan