Why going into clearing was the best thing that ever happened to me

Psychology graduate, Corah Lewis, was never meant to go to the University of Manchester. It wasn’t until she entered clearing in the summer of 2014 that she ended up on the same path as 40,000 other students but it was a turn of fate that ended up working out incredibly well for her. Read all about her time at Manchester and what she’s gone on to do with her psychology degree below…

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My Mum was a Speech and Language Therapist. Growing up, I was fascinated to hear all of her stories about patients she was working with and how she had made a genuine difference to their lives. She was so incredibly passionate about her job, and I knew I wanted to do something similar.  Psychology sounded like a great option for me to study at university.

To be honest, Manchester wasn’t always the plan. I actually got in through clearing after not quite achieving what I had hoped in my A-levels. At the time I was so disappointed to not get into either of my university choices, but this turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Not only did I love my time studying at Manchester, but I was also given a lot of fantastic opportunities outside of the lecture theatres.

I undertook a placement year as an Honorary Research Assistant at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London. I worked on a project looking into an intervention for children with neurological conditions who were also struggling with their mental health. I was delighted to be named on the publication of the results of this study. I also worked on a project looking into the impact of Cystic Fibrosis on children and young people. I was able to analyse the data I collected for this for my dissertation once I returned to final year. I really surprised myself with how much I enjoyed working in a research environment and was invited to present my findings at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research.

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Everyone I spoke to told me how difficult psychology was to get into as a career. I knew applying for jobs would be hard, but I did not expect it to be as hard as it was. I graduated in July 2018. Forty-nine job applications and seven interviews later, in October 2018 I secured a job working as an Assistant Psychologist within the Neuropsychology Team at the Chalfont Centre for Epilepsy. It was such a gruelling summer but it was so worth it. I could not be happier in my job now.

My main role is to undertake neuropsychological assessments with patients for various reasons, including trying to localise where their seizures may be coming from, to assess if they would be suitable for neurosurgery and to see what effects their medication is having on their cognition. We then do a lot of feeding that back to an MDT team but also to the patient and explaining to them why they may be having problems with their memory etc. I am working in a very emotionally charged environment which can be challenging at times, but it also makes it incredibly rewarding.

During my time at Manchester, it wasn’t just work, work, work – I had to find time for netballNetball has always been a huge part of my life, and that continued throughout my time at university. I played for the University Second Team for all three years. I was Club Secretary in my second year, organising all of the fixtures for all six teams. Highs of my time with UMWNC included winning Christie Cup in my first and second years and going on a couple of tours to Spain. Lows include spending two months in my final year on crutches with my leg in a brace due to a knee injury sustained during training (definitely not something I would recommend while trying to write a dissertation!). You really do become like a family when you see the same girls five or six times a week at training and matches. I cannot recommend enough getting involved in a society. 

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If I had one bit of advice for current students, it would be to do a placement year if it is something your course offers. The world of Psychology is so incredibly competitive to get into work after graduation and I know that there is no way I would have the job I do now if I did not have the experience of a placement year behind me.

For me, the plan for the future is to secure a place on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate, perhaps at Manchester. I know, again, it is incredibly competitive but I plan on applying for the first time this year. I am not expecting to get on so early in my career but I really have nothing to lose. Fingers crossed!

I cannot sing Manchester’s praises enough. Everything that the University has to offer set me up so well for life after graduation. It’s only been a year and I miss it so much already!

 


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