masters

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.

 

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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.