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Psychology alumna shares her journey to becoming a Clinical Psychologist

Psychology alumna shares her journey to becoming a Clinical Psychologist

Melody Smith

Brunel provided an excellent environment for my social development and encouraging academic attainment

Melody, Undergraduate, Alumni

Clinical Psychologist, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

Psychology BSc - 2010

From UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

After completing my BSc in Psychology with Professional Development at Brunel, I volunteered with Camden Memory Service delivering a cognitive stimulation therapy group to older adults with dementia. I landed my first paid job as a Research Worker at the IoPPN (dementia research). I completed an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience in 2012. I earned a promotion in 2013, and embarked on a Dementia Case Register Lead role. After, I got a place on the Surrey PsychD Clinical Psychology course which I completed in 2019. I currently work with young people with Mental Health difficulties and/or Learning Disabilities.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

I run clinics with children, adolescents, parents and professionals which are conducted in various settings including schools, homes and the service base. Liaising with professionals regarding young people's care. Various meetings: Clinical, operational/business. Delivering teaching to parents and professionals (e.g. on behaviour). Supervision. Developing and improving the service. Ensuring continued professional development (i.e. attending training and talks).

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

By far the biggest achievement of my career has been completing Clinical Psychology Doctorate. It is well known that the Doctorate is challenging, however, I believe that no-one can quite prepare you for the journey. Though challenging, the experiences gained whilst on training are invaluable as they allow you to gain insights into challenge and build resilience.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

Brunel provided an excellent environment for encouraging academic attainment. I had an excellent working relationship with my tutor, Maria Uther, and continue to be impressed by her wonderful career! Brunel also provided a great environment for my social development. I was able to socialise with people from a variety of backgrounds for a variety of purposes, which built my ability to adapt, given the situation.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I went to Brunel through clearing as I didn't get the grades needed to attend my first choice university. I favoured Brunel because I had heard it was a healthy and active social environment. Also because it was close to London, where my family were based, and so I knew I could always draw on them for support if needed. Studying at Brunel was handy because I was able to work in London at the weekends and do voluntary work in London one evening a week.

What is your best memory of studying here?

I lived at home for the first three years of my degree, but in final year I moved onto campus. I absolutely LOVED living in David Neave Hall (Flat 71) and making great friends. I also met my husband there! Academically, I remember attending Stanley Gaine's lectures, which were always immensely interesting but notoriously complex.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Try lots of different activities, clubs, societies and voluntary work. Try to socialise with different people in different settings. Get involved in extracurricular activities that may interest you. Lots of young people worry about there not being enough time or worry about getting things "right". Try to worry less about time or getting things right - you can always change your mind, and that is perfectly OK. Try to, perhaps, focus more on how things make your feel, how they fit with your life and whether or not you can see yourself doing that thing again and again happily.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

I think it is important for graduates to remember that, although they are experiencing a time of ending, there is something refreshing about starting anew and embarking on another chapter. Often, with each new chapter comes a wealth of opportunities. Try to tap in on what motivates you. If you can, do what you enjoy and find a legitimate and sustainable way to make money doing it. If you can't, try to think about how you can move closer to that thing.