Hello and WELCOME to PsychAssist. We know that one of the struggles of being a Psychology Graduate is the constant shifting of job roles and populations. We get told on a regular basis that in order to get onto a Psychology Doctorate course, you must have experience in many different populations. However, what about those who managed to bag a little bit of security by gaining a permanent contract? I mean, what happened to being an inch wide and a mile deep? Why is there such scarcity when it comes to employers giving psychology graduates permanent contracts? This is why we thought we’d explore the Pros & Cons of a permanent contract and whether this should be the way forward for our profession.
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Positives Of A Permanent Contract
Now, we’ve known many people who were lucky enough to bag themselves a permanent contract as a psychology graduate. In fact, many of the PsychAssist team hold (or have held) permanent Assistant Psychologist positions which provided the stability needed to focus solely on learning as much as possible within that one role and population. This is something that is priceless as it allows space and freedom to really reflect and develop our abilities as a psychologist. This wasn’t the case for a “fixed term” Assistant Psychologist we knew that would not only have to deal with the daily stresses associated with being an AP but would have the lingering reminder of job hunting to come home to as her contract was ending (you can imagine her stress levels were through the roof).
“a fixed term psychology graduate will mostly do all the unwanted jobs”
The status also allows you to be seen as a valued member of the team instead of a graduate who is only to be seen and not heard. This ultimately allows you to develop your leadership skills and to feel like you’re really adding your own touches to the service. This couldn’t possibly be done in the short space of time you’d have on a fixed term contract. Sadly, more often than not, a fixed term psychology graduate will mostly do all the unwanted jobs other members of the team do not want to do which doesn’t add much to your experience when applying for a doctorate.
PsychAssist Tip: If you’re lucky enough to have a permanent contract, just remember to not become complacent or comfy. This was the issue that I had when I had a permanent AP role. This doesn’t mean that you can stay in this one role until you get onto training but if you’re struggling just remember this advice that helped me. Only move on from a post if you wholeheartedly believe there is nothing more to learn. Once you’ve entered in that auto-pilot mode at work, it’s time to move on.
“employers do start to question why you were in one post for all that time”
Negatives Of A Permanent Contract
Carrying on from the last point; the worst thing about having a permanent contract is that you can easily fall into a routine. There is no such thing as a career Assistant Psychologist as they’re made for graduates to learn and gain experience before they get onto training. Partly, this is the reason why most Assistant Psychologist roles are fixed term to allow you to learn as much as you can before you move on. Nevertheless, this can be very hard when you’re in a permanent position and at some point, this will start to hinder your progression. Imagine you’ve been in a single post for over 3 years in a specific population. This could hinder you if trying to move on from that post into another population as employers do start to question why you were in one post for all that time.
PsychAssist Tip: Try to stay in a role until you have learned as much as you can, however, DO NOT interpret that as you can stay in one role for as long as you like! The purpose of psychology graduate roles is that you progress in your career which means you need to move around at some point. Don’t forget, the end goal is to get onto a doctorate not to stay Pre-Qualified.
“everyone has their own journey to getting onto a doctorate”
Things To Consider
There are many factors that you have to consider when taking a permanent contract. The biggest being that life will happen and you may not be the same person in a few years’ time. This is exactly what happened to me when I had a permanent contract. Halfway through my last AP post, I got accepted onto my MSc in Health Psychology which ultimately means that I was tied down to this role for an extra 2 years. Sure, I could have tried to find another AP post after the 18 months mark but that would have potentially hindered my Uni work as its quite stressful moving jobs and doing an MSc. This is why it was best for me to stay where I was even if I had qualified psychologists making comments that I should be moving on.
Also, some graduates have children whilst still Pre-Qualified which means, for stability purposes, they need to stay in a role for a lot longer than expected as its what’s necessary for their family. This isn’t something that should be looked down upon as life happens and everyone has their own journey to getting onto a doctorate.
PsychAssist Tip: RUN YOUR OWN RACE!
Thanks for tuning in to this week’s article! See you next time for more great articles!