Surprisingly my first steps into the ‘world’ of psychology stemmed from a keen interest in sports. Up until sixth form I had very little experience or understanding of psychology in its general sense. However, one of my A level choices was Physical Education (P.E.) and one of the modules within this was Sports Psychology which I found fascinating. When it came to choosing my university options, I picked Psychology at Cardiff Met as my first choice.
The undergraduate degree was a new experience for me; I remember that it initially took me a little while to get used to the broad range of topics that were being taught. However, the range of topics only sparked my interest further. I noticed fairly early on that it was the forensic and clinical psychology content that I found most interesting. This then led me to read about becoming a psychologist and what I needed to do to be one. One thing that was clear was that as well as a psychology degree, work experience was essential. Whilst I did not complete a work experience placement as part of the degree, the lecturers were able to provide me with helpful ideas and contacts about getting the experience that I needed. As a result, I contacted some people I knew working in one of the prisons in South Wales and I was able to gain a voluntary placement there. This along with the above-mentioned Forensic Psychology module in the third year led to my interest in this area to develop further. I knew that in the future I wanted to work in forensic services with people who had committed crime, either in prisons or in forensic mental health hospitals.
Since my undergraduate degree I have gone on to complete two further, postgraduate degrees at Cardiff Met which allowed me to eventually qualify as a Forensic Psychologist. The degrees that I completed were a Masters in Forensic Psychology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Practitioner Forensic Psychology. Both of these were extremely focused on the learning and experience needed to be a forensic psychologist. The Masters provided a good foundation of the theory and research specific to this field and the Diploma provided me with the necessary training and experience as this is essentially a qualification that is completed through ‘on the job’ supervised practice.
Since qualifying I have worked in a forensic mental health hospital which provides assessment and treatment for people who have mental health problems and who can potentially cause harm to themselves or others. My undergraduate psychology degree at Cardiff Met set the foundations for me to be able to progress along this career path and undoubtedly helped me to gain employment in jobs that provided relevant experience for my goal of becoming a psychologist. The course provided me with a good grounding in psychological theory and research and also helped to develop my writing skills. These are essential to my role as a psychologist and I rely on them in my day-to-day practice. In addition, the lecturers and tutors at Cardiff Met were brilliant which helped matters to no end. They were easily contactable and happy to provide help and support wherever they could. There really is some great support available from those involved with the course and the university, which was invaluable.
My advice to others who aspire to enrol on the psychology course at Cardiff Met would be to go for it as you won’t regret it. The degree is broad enough to open up opportunities for a whole manner of career paths. For instance, I have met Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Teachers and Lecturers all with psychology degrees. If you already know that you would like to work in the field of applied psychology in the future then decide early on which area it is that you want to develop a career in. Then from there make every effort to gain relevant work experience as early as you can, the more the better.
If you are able to gain experience whilst still studying then even better. The ‘world’ of psychology is a competitive place so you need to give yourself the best chance you can. Aim high and work hard! Stay focussed on your goal and don’t give up, even when times are challenging.