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Question
Posted by: Frustrated Psyc Graduate | 2011/03/01

Qualified and nowhere to go

Dear Prof, please make yourself a cup of coffee before reading: I am ashamed to admit this is a pity party.

Let me start in my third year of my psyc degree when my dad asked me to go the industrial psyc route, " to be safe" . I, of course, adamant to follow my dream of becoming a psychologist and helping the world to heal themselves, said no.

Skip to completing my honours degree, under the notion (as stated by a university counsellor) that I would be able to work under a psychologist, basically do the same job but have everything signed off by a shrink. Of course, this turned out not to be true and my dreams were momentarily shattered as I could not get into a masters programme as I was too young.

After completing a horrid marketing diploma I was offered an internship to qualify as a Registered Counsellor, a new category that would enable psyc students such as myself to go into private practice and offer the same services as psychologists only at a reduced rate to those who can''t afford high shrink rates. Hey presto I was back on track, and servicing a community who before now could not have these services.

It''s now almost four years since passing my board exam and registering with the HPCSA and a bit later the BHF. I am still not technically practicing what I fought so hard to achieve. In order to pay my bond and eat, I''ve had to take on other jobs to stay afloat. They have always been in line with psyc (I keep telling myself that) whether it be teaching special needs children or offering remedial therapy to those who aren''t coping etc etc etc ad nauseum.

So what now? (And I plead this question to anyone who will listen). I have offered to conduct school readiness assessments at pre schools  aptitude tests at high schools  I have cold called psychologists and assessment centres and offered to assist with assessments or report writing or anything that is in line with what I am qualified to do, and passionate about.

I''ve been told its all a matter of networking and marketing  well I''ve networked till the cows come home but either I''m not doing it right or there''s just not enough work to go around. I''ve marketed where I can afford to and that hasn''t got me far either.

If one more person tells me " these things take time"  I may just explode. I''ve even out of desperation tried to go into recruitment but they told me I was not ''pitbull material''...I had to agree.

So I ask again, what now? I can''t turn back the clock and decide to go the Industrial Psyc route as my dad suggested  and I''m struggling to carry on as I am at the moment. My writing may seem that I make light of the situation, but it is merely out of necessity: it is this, or wallow in complete self pity and then feel guilty for doing so as I know there are so many people out there worse off than I am.

The bottom line is: I''m very good at what I do but I can''t afford the marketing involved to get myself off the ground. Where do I go? I still want to achieve my Masters, but last time I checked that cost a bit of money too.

If money wasn''t needed in the world, I would volunteer all day every day. But it doesn''t work that way, does it?

Please help me.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I don't often hear from someone with a diploma in Horrid Marketing. But that would explain most of the mucky ads I see on TV
With respect, it sounds as though you received either no or really bad career and study counselling when you began and throughout your studies. Maybe your skills would enable you to become unusuall adept at preventing such problems in other people ?
Otherwise, Purple's advice seems very sound

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2011/03/02

The work you are currently doing is building up your whole portfolio of skills that you have to offer so none of it is wasted.

Everyone''s careers begin in fits and starts like this.

You can also approach a couple of recruitment agencies to go on their books as positions for psychometrists and pscyhologists do come up at larger companies, also larger practices might look for people.

All fields of psychology require a masters degree to practice -whether its clinical psychology, industrial, educational etc so it doesn''t matter which branch you chose, you''d be in the same boat. I haven''t heard of people being turned down for masters degrees based on being too young. As its four years later now, have you considered re-applying? Could you take a student loan? Are the funds your parents put aside for your studies and were willing to pay last time you wanted to do masters still on offer? Could you work part time while doing your masters? What about doing it through UNISA which is significantly cheaper?

There are other careers that require the training you have - human resources (not administration and leave processing, but the more strategic level jobs), communications jobs, employee assistance programme coordinators - you just need to think laterally a bit. An employment agency could also give you some ideas about which jobs require the qualifications you have.

You are doing all the right things and as much as you don''t want to hear it - it does take time to establish yourself. Your situation is not unique - frustrating though it is. Those who persevere really do make it in the end - but often along the way, your defininition of making it changes a bit and you change what your end goal is and take other paths and end up perfectly happy.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/03/02

I don't often hear from someone with a diploma in Horrid Marketing. But that would explain most of the mucky ads I see on TV
With respect, it sounds as though you received either no or really bad career and study counselling when you began and throughout your studies. Maybe your skills would enable you to become unusuall adept at preventing such problems in other people ?
Otherwise, Purple's advice seems very sound

Reply to cybershrink

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