Degree subject BSc Psychology, University of Ulster, Coleraine (2007); MA Psychology, John Moores University, Liverpool (2009)
Job title R&D Officer
At school I did psychology, business studies and statistics at A level. I had a particular passion for psychology, so decided to pursue it at university. During my degree I studied occupational psychology, which I absolutely loved – it was tailor-made for me as it incorporated business studies and statistics. I really enjoy working with people too, so a career in occupational psychology seemed to tick all the right boxes.
After finishing my masters degree I was browsing for jobs online when I came across the InterTradeIreland FUSION programme. They were looking for a psychologist and, crucially for me, a masters degree was the desired element. I sent in a CV and covering letter and after an initial interview with the company CEO, a psychometric test (naturally) and a second interview with a representative from Trinity College Dublin, our FUSION partner institution in the Republic, I was told I had been successful.
I'm a research and development (R&D) officer at Mindmill, an online psychometric testing company. We develop and run psychometric assessments to help people make objective decisions about recruitment, training and development. We're a small team – there's only six of us – which means that my contribution to the company really makes a difference.
I work directly with clients, including recruitment organisations and education professionals, and advise them on which assessment tests to use and on which criteria to base their assessments. My role is exciting and varied: I could be running a workshop in a company alongside a manager to establish what sort of psychometric tests would suit particular teams – personality or aptitude tests for example – or back in the office creating new assessments with our technicians from client requests.
As part of my placement I recently completed a diploma in business management studies at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. It was tough to fit it around full-time work (it involved a lot of weekend time), but it's been very useful to have the extra knowledge that the diploma supplied.
Advice for graduates
A psychology degree is so varied in content that it opens up many career options. Students should find out what aspects interest them the most and then specialise in that area, either by doing further study (an MA was a definite help for me) or by getting relevant hands-on experience.
Arlene McGurk was interviewed for the gradireland directory 2012.