When I started my second year as a Psychology undergraduate, I went through what one of my lecturers termed as a ‘mid-undergraduate-life-crisis’. Although I was sure I had a keen interest in the course, I felt somewhat… lost. Perhaps it was because the content of my modules that semester was pretty dry, or perhaps it was because I started to realise that I had interests in more areas than I previously thought. Either way, I felt myself growing increasingly confused about career and postgraduate options; I often wondered if my interests and abilities could coexist in my future career. Therefore, when I came across the notice for SG Psych Stuff Mentorship programme, I naturally signed up.
I did not expect much when I signed up for the mentorship programme – I was simply confused about my career aspirations and thought it would be great if I could consult a Psychologist in the local scene. I had somewhat of an idea regarding what I was passionate about; I was sure that I wanted to pursue a job with a strong social component (i.e. helping others), but I also longed for a job that would require some form of creative skills, for I also had a keen interest in design and art. I was also unsure of my preferred clientele; Prior to pursuing my undergraduate studies, I was sure that I wanted to pursue a clinical career (as it seemed like the obvious choice at the time), but I slowly realised that I had more of an interest in working with children. This made me wonder if I should prioritise the clientele or the therapeutic medium when considering future career (and even postgraduate) options.
During the interview for the mentorship programme, I shared about my broad interests and concerns, while explaining that I hoped to learn more about suitable future pathways and the Psychology scene in Singapore. I also hoped that the programme would provide me with relevant opportunities to learn from experienced mentors, so that I could have a clearer grasp of what I could realistically pursue after graduating.
Upon being successfully selected for the programme, I was allocated to my mentor, Carlin, who is both an Educator and Psychologist, and also the Founder of SG Psych Stuff! Along with two other fellow mentees, Carlin arranged for a meetup for all of us to get to know each other, especially with regards to our interests in the Psychology field. It was extremely helpful for me to hear from not just my mentor, but also the other mentees about what they wished to pursue in future, as well as their concerns. Hearing from fellow Psychology undergraduates made me feel less alone in my concerns, and also helped to pique my interest in other fields of Psychology which I was previously less familiar with.
During the course of the year-long mentorship programme, we had several meetups where Carlin prepared activities aimed at helping us in different aspects. For one of the sessions, he prepared a card activity which helped us identify our skill sets and interests, and a range of suitable jobs which would match them; during another session, he helped to vet through our resumes while providing us with career advice. I found these sessions to be very enlightening, and especially enjoyed the activity which helped identify suitable career pathways for each of us. Seeing the link between our interests, skills and different career prospects helped to provide a clear visual representation of what I would find to be fulfilling in a job, and this helped to provide me with more concrete plans in an area I previously felt was rather abstract.
More than just providing me with career advice, the mentorship programme also provided me with opportunities to attend enriching workshops. One of the workshops I attended was on Choice Theory & Reality Therapy (CTRT), a theory and therapy technique used in counselling. Through the workshop, we learnt more about CTRT through a diagrammatic illustration of the individual’s real, perceived and quality worlds. This was fascinating, especially because I had not learnt much about CTRT through my modules in school – most modules cover the more commonly-used therapies, like Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Additionally, acquiring the new knowledge prompted me to reflect on how the theory manifests in the choices we make in our daily lives, as well as how Choice Theory could be linked to other theories I had previously learnt about.
Apart from formal meetups and workshops, Carlin also provided us mentees with additional support, which included helping us seek out opportunities to network. In particular, as I had a keen interest in learning about how artistic mediums could be incorporated into therapy, Carlin introduced me to one of the other mentors from the programme. The mentor, Anthony, is a counsellor who incorporates the use of art into some of his therapy sessions with hospital patients. I was humbled to be able to arrange a meeting with him to learn more about his work. During the meeting, I also unexpectedly picked up helpful knowledge about the industry, including learning about the importance of being registered with an association, the differences between various postgraduate options, and even some research ideas! Needless to say, I left the meeting feeling enriched with several new insights.
My experience as a mentee in the SgPsychStuff mentorship programme was an extremely fulfilling one as I was able to discover more about myself than I had initially expected to. I joined the programme wanting to simply learn more about suitable career options and left with not only more knowledge about the local scene, but also a clearer picture about where my interests in Psychology lie. The programme also prompted me to reflect deeper about my expectations about post-university life, which helped to refine my plans for the future. The insights I gained from the mentorship programme worked alongside additional knowledge I picked up from the second semester of Year 2; I started to realise that there are indeed avenues in which my interests and abilities could coexist. As my second year came to a close (and so did the mentorship programme), I found myself feeling more purposeful in the steps I was taking towards my ideal career and postgraduate pathways.
If you are a Year 1 or 2 Psychology undergraduate and find yourself feeling confused about your interests, future career options, or simply wish to know more about the local scene, I urge you to consider signing up for SG Psych Stuff’s mentorship programme! I would say that the programme works most effectively when the mentee also puts in an adequate amount of work to constantly seek out their passions, but it definitely helps to provide you with adequate resources and guided mentorship, which is already a huge springboard in itself.
This blogpost is written by Alyssa. Alyssa is a Year 4 Psychology undergraduate at NUS who has a keen interest in working with children. She is interested in how early childhood factors can affect the emotional, cognitive and behavioural development of a child, as well as how creative mediums like movies, play and visual arts can be utilised to help children express their emotions effectively. In her free time, she enjoys watching (and analysing!) films, alongside pursuing creative projects such as graphic design and digital art.
Calling all Year 1 & 2 Psych Majors for SG Psych Stuff Mentorship Programme!
Unsure of your options after graduating? Hoping to explore and learn more about the psychology field? Here at SG Psych Stuff, we have carefully screened and recruited volunteer mentors who work in this sector to help undergraduate psychology students in their first and second year of study navigate these pathways.
Sign up to be part of this programme and learn more about the various fields in psychology. Be exposed to a wider variety of psychology events, and interact with psychology professionals through this 1-year mentorship programme. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a better idea of what your future career options may be like.
Are you ready to join as a mentee in 2021? Sign up now at tinyurl.com/psymentor21 (Registration closes on 16 Oct 2020.)