Improving Workplace Inclusion

Improving Workplace Inclusion

From Aberdeen to Improving Workplace Inclusion - Sina ErichsenSina Erichsen

MA Psychology, 2018
From Aberdeen to Improving Workplace Inclusion

Your Time at Aberdeen

Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I had never been to Aberdeen before I moved to the city to start studying for my psychology degree but the four years that lay ahead were to be an experience I would not trade for anything in the world. I was interested in the science of psychology and liked the course structure and content of the degree at Aberdeen. The university and campus seemed gorgeous, the lecturers experts in their fields, and the student-life lively and including. I am glad to say that all three assumptions were correct!

Why did you choose your particular course?
For a long period I was very unsure of what degree to start studying for. I have many interests and during my last years of high school I was equally curious in the fields of medicine, psychology, and nano-technology. In the end I decided to start off with psychology. The plan was to steer down the road for clinical neuropsychology. Originally it was academia and the science that was most compelling, but as the course progressed I developed a passion for counselling and applied psychology. Upon graduating, I had a far more open-minded view on where my knowledge of psychology could prove itself useful.

What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
There is so much to get involved with on campus! I joined the Nordic Society and ANSA and quickly became friends with other Norwegians as well as students from all over the world. I joined the Dance Society and I began volunteering with the veggie society, the hospital and Nightline - the student-run listening service. The people there were so friendly and caring. The community and person-centeredness they showed me is something I have carried with me to my current role. Alongside my studies I engaged with all the training and attended all the workshops and seminars I was offered, both through my work and volunteering. That is definitely something I would recommend others to do. The Dance Society especially offered friendships and passions which I have kept to date. I would recommend everyone to get involved! It is a truly inclusive society - and dancing IS for everyone!

Outside of campus life I volunteered as a befriender at the neuropsychology ward at Woodend Hospital and ran youth projects with Fersands and Fountain Community Project for underprivileged children in the Sandilands area of Aberdeen. Again, I still miss both the children and my colleagues there.

Did you hold any student leadership roles, e.g. Class Rep, Club Treasurer, Social Convenor?
I held various society roles during my studies and would recommend anyone else to get involved (though I admit I might have overdone my extracurricular activities during my 3rd year...). For ANSA (association for Norwegian students abroad) Aberdeen I was a student mentor and vice president. For the Dance Society I was secretary (which required fairly close collaboration with the President and Vice President as AUDS at the time was campus's largest society. A very rewarding role!). After volunteering with Nightline I became involved in the training committee.

If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Get involved with societies, work, and volunteering opportunities that are both relevant and completely irrelevant to your current career goals. Meet up with friends that do not share the same perspectives as you do and that are passionate about things that you are only a little curious about. If you leave uni with a more open mind than you entered with an exciting future awaits!

Did you undertake any co-curricular activities while at Aberdeen, e.g. Aberdeen Internships, Career Mentoring, STAR Award?
I counted my volunteering hours with YoungScot (I believe I have a 500 hours certificate laying around somewhere) and attended the Start award (SILVER level). I was also a stats rep for our statistics course and engaged voluntarily with research within the psychology department.

Your Time After Aberdeen

What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Health care professional and social worker at Os Kommune (local governmental branch).

What did your first role involve?
At Varafjell I facilitated the everyday lives of children and young adults with multifunctional disabilities. This included close collaboration with their respective schools, families, afterschool and sports clubs, psychologists, physiotherapists, and other health professionals.

What is your current job title?
CEO at JobLoop AS.

What is your current role?
Leading and administrating the models for workplace inclusion and drop-out prevention that the organisation develops and delivers.

Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
I held many roles in the past three years since graduating. In my first job I had to live in my parents' basement and commute for 60 minutes by car (each way) to get to work at 7am in the morning. After this I became involved with the creative start-up industry in Bergen. This meant juggling multiple part-time engagements. In these roles I practised applying my knowledge of psychology to applied research, design processes, event-coordination, customer relations, project management, grant applications and budgeting. Yet the most important skill I learned was to take initiative and responsibility. Combine those with hard work and find out what exciting places your future holds for you!

Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Psychology is a broad degree. In other words, you learn A LOT. Yes, there is not that one specific job waiting in the other end of your degree. If you choose to engage, however, there are countless opportunities! I choose to engage. I also chose to be open-minded in the type of work I engaged in. It is the combination of those three that have been essential for getting to where I am now.

One Top Tip

If I had a message for current students now it would be to be open to exploring new paths. As an experienced senior consultant keeps telling me: a plan is nothing, Sina. Planning is everything.

Make a plan, but do not let it blind you. You do not know who you will meet, what you will learn, where your contributions are needed, what jobs become available, or what new and exciting careers and experiences this could lead to as a result! Be a little curious.