Why SLV.Global Placements are Relevant Work Experience for Psychology Students

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When I was studying Psychology at University, it became clear to me that I had to gain hands-on experience to ultimately enter the professional world and kick-start my career. Every search I made for work experience required work experience to gain work experience and I didn’t know how I would be able to break the cycle. One day, I found SLV.Global and young first-year-me knew that would be the professional and personal opportunity of a lifetime, allowing me to gain psychology work experience, and explore a completely new culture.

SLV.Global’s placements are varied, allowing their volunteers to work with children and adults, people with physical and mental difficulties, in schools, development centres, psychiatric facilities and in the community. Before embarking on this adventure, I was daunted by all these activities I would take part in, being very aware of my lack of experience in all these areas. However, I was pleased to discover that the team in London was super informative and with me every step of the way. I felt reassured by them and I soon found myself on a place heading to Sri Lanka. Once I arrived on placement, I was also pleased to find out that the permanent team in Sri Lanka was also so helpful and supportive in training us to succeed on all these projects. My worries were soon eased.

During my time on placement, and by working on a variety of projects, I was able to gain work experience that was relevant to different areas of Psychology, and also narrow down where my interests lay. Fast forward nearly two years, I always bring up my work with SLV.Global when I’m at work interviews, or even at University during employability seminars. I developed my emotional intelligence levels by cooperating with my fellow volunteers, and being able to read whether they were having a good day, were in need of support, or were possibly missing home a bit, but most importantly I was able to utilise this skill with the service users as a way to break down the language barrier too.

I am also grateful that I was able to work in a new culture, which has given me valuable tolerance and adaptability - two qualities that are incredibly useful when working or deciding whether to work with vulnerable individuals. My time spent in Sri Lanka with SLV.Global will also help me work with patients and clients who come from a background that’s different to my own. My patience was definitely stretched at times, sometimes due to public transport, other times due to the service user group changing last minute and having to adapt a session to a new age-group. Whatever the challenge, though, all aspects of the placement helped me become a more employable person in the long run.

Upon my return to the UK, I also found out that my University was going to award course credit for students’ extra-curricular work experience activities. I spoke to my tutor, who had never heard of SLV.Global, and he then got in touch with the organisation to set up a partnership. It was great to see that I was able to bring this opportunity closer to other students at my university who one day would also benefit from psychology work experience. Having my university’s seal of approval, confirming that what I had done truly was relevant work experience for psychology students, has given me even more confidence in my skills gained on placement. I am now ready to crush all those interviews I have coming my way once I graduate this June.

Aurora Trentin