A glimpse beyond graduation

Ellie Karipidi and Rebecka Fleetwood-Smith report from the British Psychological Society’s Psy4Grads event.

Psy4Grads was a day filled with inspirational female psychologists who discussed their prominent careers, imparting valuable advice and encouragement, whilst allowing attendees to glimpse the breadth of opportunities available to psychology graduates.

Proceedings started with an empowering welcome from the president of the BPS Professor Peter Kinderman, in which he discussed the relevance of psychology, the importance of psychological literacy, and the power psychologists have in implementing change. Interestingly, he pointed out that ‘mental health problems are fundamentally social and psychological issues’. Instead of just prescribing medication as a ‘cure’ he highlighted the importance of understanding ‘how each one of us has learned to make sense of the world” as well as setting social policies for genuine mental health and wellbeing. Kinderman left the audience with the words of Martin Luther King; ‘There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.’

Occupational Psychologist and founder of Affinity Health at Work Dr Emma Donaldson-Fielder, the first speaker of the day, highlighted the significance of evidence-based practice. She pointed out four evidence sources; academic research, practitioner’s expertise, evidence from the local context and circumstances, and stakeholders’ preferences. She also discussed the need for practice-based evidence by indicating the significance of practitioners’ valuable input into the academic practice. She further highlighted that academic practice needs to be better informed about how findings can be translated to meaningful tools and applied in practice. A few key messages from her experience as an Occupational Psychologist were to have a clear aim, do what you are passionate about, focus on your strengths, practice resilience, be persistent, and build relationships in order to flourish.

Dr Nicki Morley, Consumer Marketing Insights Director at Unilever, discussed her fascinating work within product research and development and within her current role as consumer insight lead. She described her job as a global leader, a ‘day in the life’ of innovation, researching, communication development, experimentation, validating, inspiring, foresight, and monitoring. She perfectly illustrated the importance of Psychology in product development and sensory design by giving the example of the domestic bleach cleaning product; removing the smell of bleach makes people think it is not as effective! Sharing many of Donaldson-Fielder’s sentiments, Morley recommended students keep their experience broad, allowing them to develop a range of skills. She encouraged the audience to be flexibile and adaptable, remain passionate about Psychology, and consider a postgraduate qualification.

Dr Daisy Best, Training Lead for Division of Counselling Psychology, implored students to see their studies as a journey towards making a difference rather than the attainment of degrees/doctorates. Best gave her own definition of Counseling Psychology as the integration of research, theory and therapeutic practice around self-awareness. Best encouraged students to practice self-care, self-belief and to undertake interventions to ensure their own wellbeing – the ability to care for oneself is a level of competence required when caring for others. For a successful career in psychology, she recommended students first identify the type of Psychologist that best fits their personality, and conduct a thorough research about relevant courses.

Dr Kate Hays closed the day with emotive footage from the Rio Olympics and Paralympics 2016. Hays, the Head of Performance Psychology at English Institute of Sport, works with athletes to enhance performance through employing a plethora of preventative and proactive interventions. She defined her job as a mission of enhancing the performance capabilities of athletes by helping them to thrive under pressure. Hays’ passion for her work was infectious as was all the speakers of the day, their varied and global careers gave attendees inspiring insights into the world of applied psychology.

- Report by BPS LHC Committee member, Ellie Karipidi, and volunteer, Becka Fleetwood-Smith.

- Look out for interviews with Dr Morley and Dr Best in future issues of The Psychologist.

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