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Where Are You Now?

Taylor Johnston

 

Taylor Johnston

BSc (Hons) Psychology 2019

Taylor is one of many Sunderland graduates that helps fighting COVID-19. She is Lab Support Worker at the Integrated Covid Hub North East and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals. Her main role is to prepare and analyse COVID samples and input results into track and trace.

Since graduating in 2019, Taylor has completed a master’s degree in Foundations in Clinical Psychology at Newcastle University and is also about to begin a training course with Sunderland Literacy Aid in Reminiscence Therapy.

“My greatest achievement is probably a tie between getting a first-class honours degree in my undergraduate degree and getting a merit in my master’s degree, of which I completed during the COVID-19 pandemic!” she said.

However, completing her master’s degree has also been her biggest challenge to date.

The 22-year-old explained: “I knew it would be a step up from my undergraduate degree however I underestimated just how challenging it would be, especially having to complete most of it during the pandemic. The biggest challenge wasn’t the switch to complete remote working, but it was the disconnection of communication and the change in support that I experienced.

“Amongst dealing with the obvious struggles of the pandemic, I then had to complete my master’s alongside this and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, I got through it in the end and I came out with a good grade and some good life lessons!”

For Taylor, it was a recommendation from a family member who had completed the Psychology course that attracted her to the University of Sunderland.

She said: “They highly recommended it to me. I knew that the student satisfaction rate was high, and when I compared my particular course to other Universities I felt that the modules at Sunderland sounded more interesting and more enjoyable. So, I decided to apply, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done!

“Although it was tough (like I’m sure all University courses are), I look back at my time there and I have so many fond memories. I loved every single second of my degree and if I could go back and experience it exactly the same all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat!”

Asked about who or what at the University of Sunderland influenced her most, Taylor admits it was the friends that she made on her course.

“I made life-long friends there, who I’m still very good friends with now, and every single day we all pushed each other to keep going and achieve everything that we were capable of achieving. We studied, stressed, laughed and cried together and they truly are the reason that I kept pushing through and succeeded in my studies,” she explained.

According to Taylor, getting as much experience as possible is crucial for new graduates entering the job market.

She advised: “The job market is tough, particularly in Psychology and your experience is what is going to set you aside from the rest. Try and grab any opportunity that you see or that is available to widen your experience – volunteering is absolutely crucial. As well as this, I’d also advise to never give up, no matter how disheartening the process is. I know from experience that it can be incredibly disheartening, and it can really get you down, but just keep trying, keep applying and keep your head held high. Confidence is key.”

Taylor’s plans for the future include to continue her career within the NHS and to gain a position as an Assistant Psychologist.

She concluded: “From there I want to pursue a career in either Clinical Psychology or Forensic Psychology, however you never know what the future holds and so I’m keeping an open mind. It’s okay to not have a complete idea of what you want to do in the future, you still have time. Always remember that.”

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