Graduate views: Gazal Khan
- Graduated 2010: BSc Psychology
- Trainee Clinical Psychologist - Royal Holloway University (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology)
Can you tell us a bit about your current role?
I have recently started a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Royal Holloway. This is a three year training course that will result in a qualification of Doctor in Clinical Psychology and allow me to practice as a Clinical Psychologist. As part of this three year course, I attend two days at university learning about various psychological disorders, therapeutic approaches and clinical skills. Three days of the week, I spend at my placement, which is within an adult mental health service. I work as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist under the supervision of a Clinical Psychologist and carry out psychological assessments and treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
I am hoping to qualify with my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2015 and then start working as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS.
How did you first develop an interest in Psychology?
During my International Baccalaureate programme I chose Psychology and found experimental psychology particularly intriguing. It was fascinating to me that we were trying to quantify psychological phenomena to better understand the complexity of human experience by breaking it down. I felt that it was something I would like to be a part of and possibly contribute to. This, along with personal experience of others close to me having suffered from mental ill health, led me to develop a great interest in psychology as a possible profession.
Why did you choose to study Psychology at City?
Having lived in Sweden for most of my life I wasn't really sure which of the universities I had applied to in London would suit me best, so I decided to visit the campuses of universities from which I'd received an offer. After spending a full day at City I was convinced it was the university for me: the Psychology Department had a great mix of staff members from various fields; the campus was green and inviting; the buildings were beautiful; the library formed a large part of the main campus which I found particularly impressive (this is where I would spend most of my exam preparation time over the coming years); and students came from diverse backgrounds.
What was your favourite module during your degree?
My favourite module was Developmental Psychology, which focused on the psychological and biological development of the individual throughout the lifespan. It covered such broad aspects of life and was delivered with great enthusiasm and up to date evidence and really encouraged critical thinking. I would say this was true of many of the modules but I took a great deal away from Developmental Psychology, seeing as it can be applied to everyday life and also clinical work.
Were there any lecturers who really inspired you?
I would say most of my lecturers were inspiring. Lectures were delivered in the most enthusiastic manner and the lecturers very much got you on board. I felt the Psychology Department was wonderful and this encouraged me to be a part of the Psychology Committee.
The lecturers at City were all very approachable and took time to not only provide feedback on coursework but also to answer general questions. I am still in touch with some of them today and they continue to be supportive. For instance, Professor Peter Ayton, our Cognitive Psychology module lecturer, supported me during my preparation for my interviews for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology by helping me get in touch with clinical psychologists in various mental health services.
How did City help you get to where you are today?
City offered me a range of opportunities throughout my undergraduate Psychology degree. Most of these were due to the services available. For instance, I applied to a range of jobs posted on the City vacancies website. This helped me get a job as a Student Ambassador, working flexible times throughout my degree to encourage students to progress onto higher education. I developed skills in public speaking, event management and teaching.
At the same time, I was applying to voluntary and paid part time posts and received support from City in preparation for the interviews. I was offered a mock interview and given detailed feedback, which helped me in my subsequent interviews and also helped me gain a voluntary post as an Elderly Support Worker.
I also got the job of a Play/Support Worker for children with learning and organic disabilities through this website. I was able to work alongside course mates who had also applied through the website, to gain considerable experience of working with children with a range of needs in learning/play settings.
I also approached staff in the Psychology Department at City and was able to take on voluntary research work assisting PhD students; this helped me gain research experience.
These experiences have contributed significantly to where I am today. With all the opportunities at City, I was able to develop skills and gain experience in a range of areas, widen my knowledge base and build up a repertoire of interpersonal and practical skills.
Any advice for someone considering Psychology at City?
Take full advantage of the opportunities available to you to make your university experience as rich as it can be. City has a lot to offer, not only in terms of the Psychology degree, but also in terms of employment and social networks. I think being aware of the range of things City offered made me want to get involved in activities and apply for jobs. These weren't only relevant to Psychology, they helped me meet other people from other courses, work with students, children and older adults, and added to my CV.