“What can you do with a Psychology degree?” is a question many students (either prospective or current) ask about the program. I bet you have asked yourself a variation of this question before starting your training. What students really want to know is: “How can I apply the skills and knowledge I learn from my Psychology studies outside the school setting?” and “What will result?”
While I was an undergraduate student at Carleton University, I remember asking the same questions. However, now through gaining professional experience in the field and finding my way, I can tell you there are SO many routes to apply your degree.
Through the website, many people reach out to me asking about the steps I have taken to where I am currently. Students are particularly interested. I thought I would share a talk that I gave to Intro Psychology students about my journey in the field to carry on the discussion beyond the classroom.
Through my counselling endeavours, people often tell me, “You have such a talent and the heart for counselling, you must have known this was your calling the whole way along.”
Truth is, I didn’t. I actually remember during my undergrad degree shying away from counselling because I didn’t think I had the strength to support people when I hadn’t dealt with my own issues first.
My route is different than where I thought I would be. But I’m so content where I am today that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I didn’t pursue counselling; rather, it found me.
When envisioning my career as a high school student, counselling wasn’t on the radar. I knew I wanted to help people, but actually spent my high school years planning on going to medical school because I was good at science. I thought I should become a doctor, as I wanted to cure cancer due to several people in my life having experienced the disease. I didn’t want others to suffer like they did.
So I took the required high school courses and chose a Pre-Med B.Sc. degree in neuroscience as it combined the human aspect along with science. I remember my chemistry lab instructor in second year telling me that careers in science involve lots of lab work and are very solitary. Knowing myself, even though I was good at my coursework, I am a social butterfly who strives being around people. My heart wasn’t in it.
However, after two years in neuroscience, I realized my psychology courses had got me passionate about studying human behaviour. In the end of my second year, I switched over to a B.Sc. in Psychology and excelled. The human mind fascinated me.
This path wasn’t without its obstacles. For my honours seminar, our choice was either in cognition or neuroscience; I chose cognition solely because I wouldn’t have to work with rats, which I would in neuroscience.
During my final years of studies, I also realized that although science was easy for me, I would not be good at dealing with oncology’s demands, in terms of the difficult issues concerning death.
After graduation, a Psychology job in a college setting opened up for me. Working with students, teaching and mentoring them, and providing them with a sense of hope for their future – this environment was very empowering!
The experience in the college setting led me to pursue graduate school at the University of Toronto (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) in human development and applied psychology. I loved learning how people learn, particularly about the positive environments that help them grow. During this time, I focused on reducing bullying in schools, as I know that a kind environment is essential to promote healthy development.
When you are in a positive setting, you strive! Being in an uplifting environment while pursuing my Master’s, I came up with the idea for this blog. It would be an electronic platform for connecting with others on a one-on-one basis and helping them stand tall & speak from the heart. Since then, Arianna’s Random Thoughts has inspired me to pursue coaching, write a book, and get my counselling designation.
If you had asked me when I began my undergraduate studies where my professional route may lead, the answer would not have been counselling. When I first started on my professional journey, I set out to heal persons suffering from cancer through becoming a medical doctor. However, now instead of focusing on healing their bodies, I help individuals cope with the experience of overcoming the obstacles they are presented with in their daily lives.
Back to the original question: “What can you do with a Psychology degree?” Just like any route in life, the opportunities are endless! With a clear vision, a sense of purpose, a positive attitude, check-ins with yourself, and a support group to cheer you along the way – the sky’s the limit!
The point isn’t about focusing on the possibilities (i.e., what CAN you do?). It’s about doing! It’s about taking action and following your passion, trying something new, and doing it!
On the beach, when you’re looking at the water, you may not want to get your feet wet. Once you’ve put your feet in the water, you’ll find out that it’s fun and feels so refreshing. You’ll probably ask, “Why didn’t I do this before!?” Do.
Did you have fear/doubts/insecurities about your profession before you started? What encouraged you to take action and get started? Did you take an “unexpected” or “unconventioial” route to where you are currently? What advice would you give to recent grads? We’d all love to hear about it.
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!