Tips for OP Students

Being a student in psychology comes with its own challenges and opportunities, so we had a wonderful discussion on LinkedIn with people sharing their words of advice and wisdom on navigating this wonderful time at uni. Here is a selection of just some of the wonderful comments (presented with permission from the authors):

Julia E Knight, Work & Org Psychologist

Take the opportunity to use the resources available to you at Uni…. whether psychology-related or not! Join clubs and societies, explore the library (in reality or virtually), check-out the students’ union, talk to your lecturers outside formal classes. And have fun!

Andrea Nica, Pursing an MSc in Forensic Psychology

Get involved in everything that comes across your road, challenge yourself! I am grateful I did that as I learnt a lot by going for internships and by getting involved in activities within the school of psychology.

I would also advise these students to not get demotivated if they get low grades at first. I got 48 on my first essay and wanted to quit! But then in my second year I started getting firsts because I learnt what I’m supposed to do and how to write a great essay. I learnt to not be harsh to myself and allow some time to learn.

Jeremy Read, Organisational Development

Don’t feel intimated by the academic papers. The authors have to write in a certain way due to the academia/research paper system. The authors behind the papers are humans and share your suffering of the writing style.

Shaid Snowdon, Community Support Worker

1) Follow your interests outside of teaching time, whether it’s in your leisure time or work related to psychology (not difficult as psychology is relatable in so many ways to so many different applications!).

2) So much of what you do during the next 3-4 years may steer you in new directions depending on what interests you follow and what opportunities you may decide to take. So, give voluntary experience a chance as any experience in the field may pay off in the future, through connections, job opportunities & more! It’s important to be paid for what you do of course, but some invaluable experience can be found in the most unlikely of (even unpaid) positions.

3) Remember that the decisions that you make when leading to a future in psychology is what makes you unique, and extracurricular experience may give you a particular edge over somebody who takes their degree but does not apply their time wisely!

Erik Beaumont, Systemic Organisational Development & Psychology

1. Everything you are taught is useless once you are out in the real world. Practical experience is everything, finding the real stuff is everything else.

2. Everything you are taught is essential for surviving in the real world while you get said practical experience and find the stuff that you really need.

3. Almost every text written by all the old pioneers is full of stuff that is offensive, confused, rigid and sometimes borderline blasphemous. It also is the key to understanding much of the new stuff. They also are inevitably badly translated, which means the stuff you are reading probably wasn’t what the authors meant, unless you read it in the original, at which point you are far more serious about this than you should be at your age.

4. You have chosen one of the very, very few professions that are not in direct danger of being replaced by AI anytime soon. Good choice! Also, they just figured out how to give AI memory, so maybe 4. no longer applies.

5. Don’t specialize until you are certain, it is never too late to specialize and almost always difficult to un-specialize. But definitely specialize as soon as you can, because that is where the joy, accolades, glory, fame and fortune lie. Or so I am told.

Tiffani Foster, Recruiter

1. You’ll need to get at least a master’s degree. Prepare now and you’ll be fine.

2. (Most important) If you have to take a statistics class, pay attention for the love of all that is holy PAY ATTENTION! Understanding stats will open doors career wise.

Carly Scholes, Workforce Strategy & Culture

1. Start thinking of lectures less as about absorbing information to remember for exams and more about discovering new ways of seeing the world, making connections between different things you’ve learnt and getting inspired.

2. Despite what some people would have you believe, it’s not a given that you’ll hate stats.

3. A trick when writing essays is to start by getting words on paper, even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever written, then edit! The hardest part of any written assignment is staring at a blank Word document – get words on the page, preferably early on, so you don’t procrastinate. If you start well in advance of the deadline, you can fit in days when you sit write at all and that’s when the best ideas come 🙂

Edel Quinn, Business Psychologist

1. It’s meant to feel ambiguous and confusing sometimes, there’s no ‘right’ theory.

2. Academia is elitist – don’t be put off if you feel like you don’t fit the mould (that’s a good thing!) and others around you will feel the same – even if they don’t say it.

3. Ask for practice-based examples if something is confusing ‘what does this look like in action?”

Abigail Tennant MSc Occ and Org Psych

Make the most of every opportunity. Network! Never doubt yourself. Enjoy and seek support when needed (it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, trust me it’s the best thing I did).”

Nikita Mikhailov, Chief Neuroticism officer

1. There will be many many subjects presented in your lectures so when you ever find a particular subject interesting e.g. Autism, Trust between pilots, – pursue that interest (even if you don’t know how it will lead to a career just yet)

2. Try to connect theory to practice, so when you find a subject that is of interest to you, reach out to people in the field who are already doing this, Linkedin is a great place to do this and just send them the invite, (below is template) and have a chat, because it is fascinating how theoretical knowledge is applied in the world.

3. Have fun, be curious about yourself and people around you as psychology is not something that lives in the classroom or a book or even Google Scholar but it is in every aspect of our lives and how we see the world around us.

4. Don’t obsess about the final grade and the thesis as you are already a member of the profession and enjoy the next 3-4 years as you take your first steps in this wonderful field!

5. Take care of yourself and others, and if you ever need a bit of help, please do ask.

Template LinkedIn message:

Hello Wendy,

It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

My name is Nikita and I am studying psychology and I find the area of psychometrics and assessments fascinating. It would be great to connect on LinkedIn, and would you possibly have a few minutes to spare for a call as it be wonderful to find out from someone who is working in the field of how psychometry is applied and practiced.

Thank you very much in advance.


(Please change the names and topic of interest, unless your name is Nikita and you are writing to Wendy about psychometrics…. that’s quite a few variables right there).

For more pearls of wisdom visit the following link:

About the Author

Nikita Mikhailov is a Psychometrician, his mission is to share the goodness of psychology. He is Business Psychologist, and a member of the British Psychological Society. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, start ups, individuals and couples. He specialises in supporting companies in recruitment and development of talent through a combination of psychometrics and coaching. His particular interest lies in how personality assessments can be used to increase self awareness and to help people make practical steps towards being more effective leaders and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives.