How my degree has prepared me for working life

Hi there, Ollie here. Today I’ll be talking about my career goals and expectations, and how my degree has prepared me for working life.

First, I should mention that, rather embarrassingly, I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do. However, currently, my first choice is as a cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT), which requires further work experience and postgraduate study. My career goals are ultimately to have a job that I enjoy, that I’m good at, that will do some good in the world and that will pay a decent sum.

It is difficult to know exactly what to expect from any career, but particularly when interaction with people is a large part of the job, as in CBT. It is probable that there will be minor or even major changes in one’s career. Technological advances will likely render the job scene completely unrecognisable in 20 years, especially through automation.

One way in which my degree (psychology with business management) has prepared me for working life is that it has covered many areas of psychology and business management. For example, in first and second year psychology, we covered research methods, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology and psychobiology. These give an exhaustive overview of the subject and many may apply to future jobs. The content may apply to jobs, for example, an understanding of social psychology may be useful in a career in advertising. 

However, there are more general ‘principle’-based lessons that may apply to all kinds of jobs, for example, the scientific rigour involved in the design and implementation of a good experiment, or a clear and engaging style of writing involved in writing a lab report. In third year, we selected more niche modules; for example, I selected health psychology and positive psychology. In addition, we do our dissertations on very niche subjects indeed; mine is on the effect of Pavlovian conditioning on cocaine addiction. These niche subjects allow deep insight into the material, which in turn allows skills such as critical evaluation to be learnt. Critical evaluation is a skill that may be applied to almost any knowledge-based work.

My degree has also given me lots of useful skills involved in writing and submitting work generally, such as time management and, in the case of group projects, coordinating with others. Overall, I’d say my degree has prepared me pretty well for working life. Famous last words, eh?