My path to psychology was certainly not straight forward. I studied various types of engineering for 2.5 years before deciding it wasn’t for me, took a semester off then changed to a Bachelor of Science with a view to completing my honours in psychology. I made this change because I love people and have always been fascinated with what drives us to behave and interact in certain ways, so I thought if I’m going to start down a fresh path, I’m going to make it something I’m interested in on a personal level. I wasn’t certain where it would take me but I knew it was something I wanted to learn about.
I was already a UQ student at the time so in part it was for ease, but I was also aware of UQ’s reputation as a world class university and wanted to hold on to that. Looking back now though neither of those reasons are what makes me glad that I did study psychology at UQ. I was pleased with my choice because of the quality of the teaching staff and course offerings, both of which were fantastic.
After completing my honours year I worked for about six months as a research assistant with my honours supervisor and another academic at the university. I knew that the money for the project I was working on would not last forever though so I continued to apply for other positions throughout that period. Eventually I came across a position at the (then) Modelling, Data and Analysis Centre (now, Planning Analysis Team) within the Department of Transport and Main Roads. My initial application was unsuccessful but I followed up with the listed contact to get feedback and express that I was eager and interested in other positions in her area. My persistence eventually paid off and I secured a position (albeit an entry level one, but with good prospects for progression) as a Research Support Officer.
The course offerings were good and the content was engaging and well delivered by teaching staff who were very skilled in communicating their knowledge (and after my experiences in engineering, it was a most welcome change haha), which made learning all the more enjoyable.
My current role is within the same team (Planning Analysis) but now I’m a Senior Analytics Advisor. As you can probably guess from the title, I use a lot of what I learned in the statistics and research methodology courses; everything from basic survey design to principal component analysis, but in a transport / travel behaviour context. Although less explicit, I also often use some of the knowledge I gained from the various social psychology courses I took to offer perspectives/approaches on/to various projects and organisational challenges that others may not think or be aware of. And I’ve even picked up a few new tricks along the way!
Ten years is a long time away and for now I really enjoy the work that I do and am pleased with my decision to move into the corporate setting. Having said that though I think one day I would like to return to the world of psychology academia, do my PhD and move into teaching / research.