Summer Internship at the School of Psychology: Carrie Matson-McArthur
2021-10-15

In this blog, Carrie reflects on her experience as an intern on the project: Exploring the Experiences of Advanced Entry Students’ Transition to University. This internship was funded by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Programme, under the QAA Enhancement Theme: Resilient Learning Communities.

I completed a qualitative internship over the summer of 2021 with Dr Jacqui Hutchison and Dr Heather Branigan looking at factors impacting advanced entry students (students who joined university in Level 2 or 3 after completing further education at college).

I saw the internship advertised and despite thinking it might not be for me I got in touch to find out more, interviewed for the role and started the next week. It was a very quick process. It was for ten weeks and I was able to balance it with a part time job as a sales assistant at Union Square. The internship was also paid which I think makes it a really attractive option to students as some are under financial pressure to work all the hours they can. Having said that, the experience alone that you get is invaluable.

I found it really flexible and I was able to keep my part time job going.

It was great to do this over the summer as it kept me in the academic frame of mind and I will use the experience to inform part of my thesis.

Having been an advanced entry student myself it was interesting to research the area. There were ten main themes I found including that institutional support plays a role in settling students and that support services are vital. It was fascinating and really worthwhile to pinpoint specific experiences that helped or hindered a student’s experience. Some found that not moving away from home made it more difficult to meet other students and make lasting friendships. Living at home myself I can empathise with that but it also brings other advantages.

I felt supported throughout the experience. I had met Jacqui and Heather through my degree but it was great to get to know them better through weekly meetings. We used Teams and had a ‘group chat’ that was always open and I could ask questions. I never felt ‘alone’ and someone always got back to me really quickly. It was the perfect way to get the work experience in a pandemic and while living with restrictions.

I didn’t quite have the required Highers for university straight from school, so I went to college. It meant I could go straight into second year and gave me more experience at the same time.

The experience of doing the internship will have done me a lot of favours. I’d be open to a research-based job now. I’ve not fully decided what I want to do after university but having this experience will definitely help with employability.

My advice to other students would be don’t be scared, speak to people, ask questions and be open to opportunities. I was nervous to start with but everyone was so nice and really helpful. I know from going to careers fairs that following a career in psychology or in any subject now is so competitive so if you have some experience that will go a long way.

Published by The School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen

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