After receiving a well-deserved degree it’s up to every graduate to show potential employers what they have learnt during the past three years and what they can bring to the company. At that point it’s important to know what employers are looking for and even more important for graduates to know what their degree actually prepared them for. I’ve decided to list and provide evidence for four transferable skills that I have developed whist studying Psychology at Sussex. These are just from studying Psychology and don’t include skills learnt from work, volunteer opportunities etc.
1. Research and data analysis: Being a psychology student has given me the opportunity to perfect my data collection and analysis skills, since our coursework often requires a project to be carried out from start to finish. With such projects I have learnt not only how to gather and analyse data, but also how and where to find background information, separate relevant information from irrelevant and most importantly, how to interpret results, what conclusions can be drawn and what the logical and material implications of the research are. Although research, data collection and analysis is very time-consuming, I enjoy it very much and always get top grades in research-related modules.
2. Teamwork: My third year project allowed me to improve my interpersonal skills, since I was working with four other students. We had to design our own experiment, gather data, analyse it and report it. This required an understanding of what team members are good at and what they enjoy doing so that the project was done properly and on time. In addition to that, we had a supervisor from the School of Psychology and had to coordinate our tasks with him as well. Even though this was a group project, we had to write our dissertations (end reports) separately.
3. Attention to detail: Attention to detail in Psychology is crucial, since statistical analysis consists of several different tests, all of which you perform based on a previous test. This means that if you miss just a slightest mistake on one test, your end results can be statistically insignificant and therefore wrongly interpreted. When I started with SPSS analysis I was a bit unsure what numbers are important, especially because SPSS outputs can be pages long. I went through all the material we had received in the lectures, seminars, labs, and all I could find on internet. I eventually got into a set routine on certain procedures and what to especially pay attention to, and what to double-check. As a result I continuously achieve first grade marks in my lab reports and statistical analysis, and I learned a great deal about paying attention to detail and putting quality into my work.
4. Technical skills: The basis of research in psychology are experiments. It is important that you know how to work with different software packages in order to be more efficient and to do it properly. Before you construct an experiment, you have to analyse and evaluate what researchers before you have done. This includes using the Library Search, Google Search, Google Scholar, Web of Knowledge and similar. Once you have come up with hypotheses, you need to analyse the data you had gathered. This is usually done using MO Excel or IBM SPSS. When writing up reports, editing, creating graphs or tables, MO Word or Google Docs are used, and we have to follow strict APA 6 guidelines.
There are always skills you enjoy more than others and skills you are more proficient in than others, but the first step is acknowledging what your degree has prepared you for and what you can apply to the real world. I’m sure skills from my degree combined with my work and volunteering experience make my CV look fantastic and attract the interest of potential employers.