Congratulations! You’ve managed to bag yourself an Assistant Psychologist job and have a start date in the diary. I remember at this point I had a mixture of feelings ranging from pure excitement to absolute terror. “What have I got myself into?” “Am I even ready for an Assistant post?” “Where do I even begin when I start?” Within this post we will explore what the first 100 days of being an Assistant Psychologist should look like to help you prepare for what’s to come.
Not ready for an Assistant Psychologist post? No problem check out the 6 Jobs for A Psychology Graduate straight out of university?
Don’t know what an Assistant Psychologist does? No worries check out So What do Assistant Psychologists Actually Do?
Open mind and an Open Heart
This may sound very confusing (and contradicting to things you may have heard); however what I want you to do is to NOT read anything to do with the client group before you start. Too many times have I seen Assistant Psychologists come into a new role and feel as though they have to be seen as KNOWLEDGEABLE or an EXPERT in the field. This is completely the wrong way to start your new position as primarily Assistants are in post to LEARN from the wider team. Now I am not saying not to showcase your knowledge and skills however there is a certain way to show people you have knowledge in the area without ramming it down their throats.
Top Tip: Go into the role with an open mind. This will decrease any misconceptions you may have with the client group and allow you to fully immerse yourself in your new role.
This will by far be the most valuable thing you can do within your first 100 days. I remember shadowing not only the Clinical Psychologists within the team, but the Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists and more. This allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the different roles within the team and their professional value. This also continues to prove its worth as I feel more confident to tailor my recommendations to clients as I know what professional would best meet their needs.
Top Tip: On your first day, make a list of all the different disciplines not only within your team, but also the wider teams. Make it your mission within the first 100 days to shadow all of them at least once. You won’t get another opportunity to do this as you will be too busy later on.
Ask as many Questions
It’s not enough to just sit there and expect the knowledge and answers to just pop into your head. You need to ask questions to really grasp the theory and interpretation of the work you are doing. A lot of Assistants feel shy to ask questions as it may make them look incompetent (and that pesky imposter syndrome kicks in). To make the most out of your position I would highly encourage the asking of questions no matter how “stupid” you think it makes you look.
Top Tip: I usually start all of my questions with “this may be a stupid question but…” which is usually followed up with a stupid question. By addressing it myself, it takes away the sting and people feel more inclined to give you a thorough answer to aid your learning.
In my previous posts, I have written about the importance of staying organised. Within the first 100 days, it should be priority number one to develop strategies to help you keep on top of your work. You may have tricks up your sleeve from previous roles which is good as it demonstrates transferable skills. Getting organised could include things such as creating a spreadsheet to manage caseload or having a To-Do list that you fill in each day. Bottom line is organisation is key to a stress free role.
Top Tip: check out So What do Assistant Psychologists Actually Do? for some direction on what to prepare for.
Fresh Pair of Eyes
A lot of Assistant Psychologists come into roles and appear to sit there and wait for someone to tell them what to do, or follow a system that is very outdated. Don’t forget, being new to a team has lots of advantages as you automatically see things differently as someone who has repeated the same system for a while. I remember when another Assistant Psychologist joined my team and after about a month showed me how my old system could be improved. It was so refreshing to have a fresh pair of eyes to point out flaws I might not have picked up on.
Top Tip: We are the new age of Psychologists! Believe it or not we will be the ones making the processes and leading teams in the future. Why not get some experience in this now? If you can see a flaw or a better way of working, don’t keep it to yourself! It may be the suggestion that takes your team to the next level.
My final point may well be the most important. Embrace this chapter in your life, enjoy the fact that you are gaining some amazing experience that you will take with you through the years. Take each day as it comes and remember that it is inevitable that you will make mistakes however it’s HOW you come back from the mistake that will define you.
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