Finish line in sight

Another uni break means another opportunity to collect my thoughts, review progress and think about the future. The first year and a half of Masters has been a bit of a blur, but incredibly fun and challenging. There’s still so much to do, so I’m finding it hard to believe that this amazing journey will be over in 5 months.

An interesting aspect of studying a Masters in Psychology, is the sheer number of self-assessments you end up doing and how much you learn about yourself as a result. Along with logbooks and intense self-reflection, it means that I feel like I’ve grown and developed so much over the past year and a half. The main thing I’ve learnt about myself throughout the course is my immense love of learning. It seems obvious now in hindsight, after all, this quality is probably what’s contributed to me being where I am now. But combined with grit (yes, I’ve just started reading Grit by Angela Duckworth), I think these two qualities have enabled me to get where I am today and to also thrive in the coursework and placement.

If you’re interested in identifying some of your strengths, you can try the VIA Strengths Survey for free. It’s well validated and researched, and the theory behind it is that when we’re using these strengths in our lives, ideally in our jobs, we’re more likely to be intrinsically motivated. This was definitely the case for me on placement, I’ve experienced greater job satisfaction when I’m doing work in line with my strengths, and when I haven’t been using them enough, job satisfaction has decreased. Alongside this knowledge, one of the main things I’ve been trying to develop is authenticity. So when I’ve had lower job satisfaction, found I haven’t really been using my strengths at work, I’ve been having open and honest conversations with supervisors to find a way to rectify this.

With so many opportunities to learn about myself and develop, I’ve started to think about what I’m going to do next. What sort of work is going to truly satisfy me? I don’t know the answer to that yet, but to challenge myself and take a (small) risk in the short-term, I’ll be starting a psychology based blog with a friend and peer from the course. This friend is like a mirror image of me, and brings out the best in me, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

In the meantime, I still have 5 more months of hard work to go and I’m going to do my best to enjoy every single moment.


Masters Update

I thought the first five years of studying psychology was great, I was so happy to learn the content and so excited at the possibility of being a psychologist. So it came as a shock in honours when in the first week, I felt inadequate, poorly prepared, and felt like my future was unattainable.

In the very first class, our tutor asked us what we wanted to do after honours.  I was up first and I said something like “I don’t know…keep studying I guess…” and he said, what would you study? and I said, “not sure, clinical masters I guess”.  Then the rest of the room got their turn, and it turned out almost everyone in the group of ~20 wanted to do clinical masters.  The tutor then told us (almost with glee) that Swinburne would only take about 15 students into clin masters and that most of us wouldn’t get in.  Apparently, to even have a shot at it, we had to have extensive clinical experience, outstanding references, high HD grades, AND ace the interview (if we were lucky to be offered one).

After that class I went straight to a computer lab and started to look up work experience opportunities for clinical roles, and I remember calling Pete in tears and telling him that I’d ruined my life, I had no chance to be a psychologist, I had to quit my job asap and do volunteer clin roles.  Somehow I persevered through the hardest year of studies I’d encountered, and along the way made a friend who was literally the only person who had ever spoken about organisational psychology. Lucky for her and lucky for the lightbulb moment where I realised I love my corporate job, and could actually apply for the org psych masters.

And what a difference one year makes.  I started the masters in org psych in early March, and so far it’s been the best experience of my life.  I’m in a much happier state than I was this time last year when completing honours.


First and foremost, the content is fantastic.  I’m still working two days a week, and I find that I can relate almost everything I’m learning back into the workplace.  Deakin and the Aus. Psych Association (APS) also offers additional opportunities to learn and gain experience, which is incredibly useful.  So far I’ve attended a public speaking workshop with the APS and an ASIST Suicide Prevention workshop.  I’m already getting a sense that when I finish this in 2 years time, I’ll have gained an immense amount of knowledge, skills, and experience. Because of this, it’s impossible to not be motivated by the coursework.

Secondly, the quality of our lecturers and guest speakers, and even the motivation of my peers have all been fantastic.  I’m learning a lot from the people around me, but the best thing about the social interaction is that I feel like we all have similar values and goals in life.  I have so much respect and admiration for the other students, regardless of age and backgrounds, they’re the most motivated and hardworking group of people I’ve ever met.  It’s such a joy to go to uni, not once have I wanted to skip class.


Managing stress with exercise

Week 6 of 12 – Halfway through the second semester of psych honours.

Since rejoining the gym, I feel like my stress levels have been pretty low/consistent this semester.  I’m still having moments where it feels like things are falling apart, but I haven’t been too unhappy.  This week in particular is tough, my mother’s in hospital, and although we aren’t very close it’s still quite upsetting.  I also have a big work event coming up, I’m facilitating a strategy day for 40 people, and as an introvert, I’m always a little anxious in the lead up to these things.  On top of that, I have precisely 4 weeks to finish the thesis. And… I really should be thinking about applying for Masters.

But it’s true what they say, endorphins are addictive, and as long as I get my daily dose, it feels like everything is manageable.

My mum is going to be okay.  A last minute trip to India led to her getting malaria, which didn’t get picked up for weeks, but she’s getting the right medication and care now and is going to be okay.

The strategy day will be fine.  I know these people, I know my stuff, it’ll be fine.

The thesis is on track.  Yes I’m struggling a bit with the data analysis, but my supervisor seems happy with my progress, so it’s all good.

Masters.  Hmm.  That’s definitely a source of stress.  So the way psychology works in Australia is that after 4 years, you have to do another two years in one of the following ways in order to be a registered psychologist:

  1. 2 years full-time Masters (with thesis)
    1. Extremely competitive entry
    2. Only a few streams are available in Vic: clinical, organisational, educational, forensic, that might be it?
  2. 1 year full-time Master of Professional Psychology (no thesis) plus 1 year of supervised work
  3. 2 years of supervised work
  4. PhD and/or Masters and PhD combined

I’ve definitely ruled out option 4 – yes I enjoy research, but no I don’t want to end up in research.  I like the practical, applied side of psychology.  The bit where I get to work directly with people and make an immediate difference to their lives.

Option 3 is also out of the question, as the registration requirements are so strict that it’s almost impossible to do this.  Anyway, I like learning too much, I don’t want to start working directly with people without more training.

Right now, I’m trying to decide between option 1 and 2.

Option 1

Pros: Great work experience in large organisations, may be able to pursue a career in org psych at my current workplace, long term prospects to work in defence (which has always been an interest of mine), this stream allows you to specialise i.e. get additional training and supervision in the stream you choose, so in my case that would be org psych

Cons: They only take 16 students per year in Victoria.  2 more years.  My god.  And another thesis. 😦

Option 2

Pros: Practical experience counselling people, this would mean I finally get to do some one on one work, only one more year of studying, no thesis!

Cons: At the end of this route, you can’t specialise in a specific psych stream.  If I ever want to specialise in my life, I would have to go and do a 2 year masters.

So…I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year.  Applications close in approx. 1 month, so in the meantime, I need to apply for Masters of Org Psych, and Masters of Professional Psych and see what happens.

Did I mention I hate uncertainty? I think that’s why I’m so grateful for the gym.  Even when work and uni are stressful and unpredictable, I can do my workouts like clockwork.  Same classes, same time each week, and I’m in control.

Life goes on

I have survived an entire semester of Psych Honours, woo! With (some) of my sanity intact.

Last semester was exhausting.  The workload was intense.  I missed most family events, skipped all work socialising, didn’t see my friends, cancelled the gym membership and basically lived the life of a hermit.  Fast forward to midyear, and I’m over it, I can’t live my life like that again.  Yes, grades were good, but I don’t think it’s worth my sanity.  So I’ve made the decision to not apply for masters next year, and it feels liberating.  Even this semester, I’m increasing my hours at work and have rejoined the gym, because all work and no play makes Jhil go cray cray.

The midyear break has been fantastic though, I’ve started to live my life again.  Highlights include:

Batman: The Killing Joke – took my husband to see this as an early anniversary surprise and we loved it.  Aside from the bizarre Batgirl plot (wtf?!), it was exactly what I hoped for – dark, complex, and a little bit ambiguous.

The Cure – this band got me through teenage angst, and I’d never seen them live, so this was a big deal.  The gig itself was incredible, ran for 3 hours and had about 5 encores.  Robert Smith still sounds amazing, and I was transported back to the 80s.

Lots of binge watching Netflix/TV

  • Stranger Things – LOVE! Can’t recommend enough.  80’s nostalgia ❤
  • Marcella – I love a messed up female protagonist who still manages to kick arse
  • Game of Thrones – FINALLY found the time to watch it, had read the books previously though

However, all good things must come to an end, and classes resume today.  Here’s hoping I can balance my life a little better this semester.

Gratitude #1

When I started this blog in Korea, I had no idea it would end up as a random spot for me to write about pretty much everything in my 3rd year subjects, but turns out it’s quite useful!

My online elective, Happiness and Positive Psychology, involves writing a reflection on a particular topic almost every week and sharing it with a small study group.  I have done a few so far (that I might share on here later on) but the topic this week is gratitude.

I haven’t done the readings just yet, but I think the gist of it is that sometimes when we feel down or when people are suffering from mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc) they focus entirely on the negatives and the act of gratitude can give some much needed perspective.

So for this week, I have to do 2 things.  First, I have to write a list of things I’m grateful for, for 5 consecutive days.  Secondly, I have to write a letter to someone who has done something that means a lot for me, that I haven’t properly thanked them for.  I’ve just finished the second one, and have decided to keep track of my gratitude lists on here.

This is due on Sunday, so I’m actually going to start by reflecting on yesterday (will end up with 5 – Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sat).

Tues 26/008/2015 Gratitude List

  1. Grateful for my home and bed, waking up warm and safe when it’s cold outside and a lot of people don’t have these comforts
  2. My husband – he’s always happy and cheerful in the mornings, so even though my natural inclination is to wake up a little sleepy and grumpy, just seeing him always makes me immediately cheerful
  3. He decided to drive in, so we got an extra 15 mins sleep in – so valuable in the morning!
  4. My amazing colleagues, even the random ones who aren’t in my team, it is really nice to see everyone when I walk in, walk past and say hi to them and find out how their weekends went (I don’t work on Mondays)
  5. My boss – I literally have the best boss in the world.  I can’t believe how lucky I am, he will do anything and everything for me to succeed in my studies and career
  6. When colleagues come to me with difficult things they are experiencing in life – I’m so grateful that they feel comfortable to speak to me, and thankful that I have learned how to truly listen to others.  I’m still tempted to problem solve and ask questions, but that’s not what they need.
  7. I’m grateful that work invested money in training me in personality profiling, although it wasn’t even remotely in my job description.  It’s a passion, and now I finally get to start running them in the workplace.  I can’t believe how lucky I am to basically be getting paid to talk to people and to help them develop and gain greater self-awareness.
  8. I’m grateful to be doing projects at work that I love, and through these, I get the opportunity to get to know some talented and experienced managers whom I would not normally interact with.  Hearing their stories gives me so many ideas on how to help others in the workplace.
  9. I am so thankful for my in-laws.  My favourite thing is that their home is an environment that encourages debate and critical thinking.  Even though I don’t always fully participate, it provides even more intellectual stimulation.
  10. Last but definitely not least…this didn’t really come up yesterday specifically but it’s always on my mind.  I’m so grateful that my dad is healing.  I’m grateful that he’s at home, surrounded by everyday comforts, and that my step mum is there.  I don’t know what we would do without her.

Reflecting on 2013

As the last post in 2013, I won’t be writing about games or gadgets, because although they’re enjoyable, it’s the people in my life that bring me the most happiness.

As the year comes to an end, it’s natural to spend a moment thinking about what we have accomplished in the past year.  It’s a moment of patting ourselves on the back, or sighing with relief that we survived the tough times and/or achieved more than we expected.