It’s such a joy to look back and see how far I have come in just three short years
When I first arrived in Sheffield to start my undergraduate degree three years ago, I was aching to begin my journey as a psychologist - but with no direction in mind. Social cognition seemed as equally exciting as computational neuroscience. It wasn’t until the end of my second year that I found my calling in developmental psychology.
Over the summer break, I volunteered as a research assistant for a PhD student running a study on early child cognition. I helped with coding 10 minute videos of parent-child interactions, meticulously breaking them down and analysing their speech and actions.
Though challenging and tedious, I was invigorated by the work. For the first time, I felt like I was practicing psychology, rather than simply reading about it in a textbook.
Looking back, I’m glad I made the most of the opportunities that were offered. The work experience I gained in exactly the research setting I aspire to, not to mention my personal tutor who was a true ally throughout, made my time here incredible
I went on to work as a research assistant for another PhD student in my spare time, this time visiting nurseries to test children and collect data. Again, what a thrilling feeling it was to be going forth into the field, interacting with real, distractible, adorable 3-year-olds on the front line.
Both of these experiences prepared me well for my third year project, in which I tested a new measure of cognitive flexibility on 3- and 4-year-olds. What initially seemed like a straightforward study quickly revealed its true form: a complex mission, in which every detail needed to be thoroughly thought about and justified.
This was followed by my time working on an OnCampus Placement in the Sheffield Cognitive Development Lab, helping to run a study on early cognition and parental influence. Alongside my supervisor, I recruit families and work directly with parents and their young children in the lab.
It’s such a joy to look back and see how far I have come in just three short years. I began as a clueless first year, covering broad topics that I vaguely remembered from A-Level; now I feel like a psychologist. I’ve designed studies, worked in a lab testing participants, coded data and gone through the rewarding (and thoroughly taxing) process of statistical analyses.
Looking back, I’m glad I made the most of the opportunities that were offered. The work experience I gained in exactly the research setting I aspire to, not to mention my personal tutor who was a true ally throughout, made my time here incredible.
With my Masters and PhD to quickly follow, I feel totally equipped and prepared to take the next academic step. My path to becoming a developmental researcher could not have had a better beginning.
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