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Career Changer: An interview with Senior Psychology Lecturer Mark Jellicoe

If you’re considering a career change, you are not alone. According to research by , 62% of the UK workforce have aspirations to change their career. Our Senior Psychology Lecturer, Mark Jellicoe, is one of the numerous people who took the leap and changed career. Mark moved from a role in local government and followed his dream of studying psychology and embarking on an entirely new career.

By Cara Fielder. Published 24 May 2024.

Apart from being excited about what I was due to learn, I wasn’t entirely sure how psychology would enhance my career, but I was convinced that it could. From my previous career in local government, I knew that I was interested in factors supporting motivation and success in the workplace, or what made people tick. From there, I wanted to learn how psychologists came to factors that contribute to this understanding.

Steering my career towards the psychology profession ultimately allowed me to draw on the parts of my previous career that I enjoyed. I was always interested in what made people tick at work, how people develop. My work experience gave me an edge, in that I had a focus on what I wanted. I am sure that this perspective will resonate with many career changers.

My specialist area within psychology is connected to personal and professional development. Regardless of the learning or career path we take, developing professionally, and personally, within our chosen field is vital. Today, I think we understand that change is inevitable, even if we stay in our field. Many don’t stay within their original sector and have two, three, four careers in their working lifetime. This requires an understanding that we can develop. It means we need to understand how to maintain resilience and persist whilst remaining flexible if circumstances change. We need to be resilient, understand how to set goals that align with our values, carry them out, monitor our own performance, listen to others and adjust. Career changers need to understand this too, and this is something that we support through our academic coaching programme here at ذكذكتسئµ.

Psychologists can add great value in organisations as psychology aims to understand human behaviour, and the thought processes and emotions that underly this. Psychologists consult, diagnose and can conduct research to support new understandings. Applying this scientific knowledge and translating it to different organisations can bring massive benefits in many areas. These include:

  • how organisations recruit and select
  • how to develop employees
  • how the organisation can develop
  • the design of work and workplaces.

These are key ideas for individuals but also organisations and their bottom line. If you can optimise the workplace environment it has direct value in terms of profits or minimising waste through inefficiency. During a cost-of-living crisis, the psychology profession can support this added value.

As another example, many organisations are currently getting to grips with harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), and how we can use this to support decision making. Important strands of work for psychologists, could relate to attitudes towards AI in any number of contexts. For example, during medical treatment, will a patient accept a consultation, diagnosis and treatment that is supported by AI? A psychologist’s work might focus on how AI tools are designed, both from a methodological perspective, to make more accurate and informed decisions, or how the human/AI interface can be designed to support greater acceptance. These are all exciting ideas, and we are only at the beginning of our journey to understanding. For me, this is part of what makes psychology so fascinating, there is always more to know and understand.

Understanding human behaviour can absolutely have a positive impact on personal and professional development. More than that, I would say it's critical. This is something that , a key figure in humanistic psychology says, “…when I accept myself, just as I am, then I can change.” This simple quote resonates with me a lot, however, it's not always that simple and the science behind personal and professional development can be relatively complex. In its most simple terms, development happens through interaction between the person, the environment and their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Despite what I often say about planning, I believe in a little bit of serendipity. Life doesn’t happen how you expect it. I started with the idea of training in forensic psychology but, after a research internship with a forensic researcher, I knew that the discipline was not for me. Having the flexibility to respond to changes is useful in all aspects of life. Things don't always happen in straight lines; often these are the times we learn the most about ourselves. These are areas where the academic coaching service and the careers advice that we provide come into their own, in terms of setting goals, making solid plans towards those goals and then reviewing them regularly.

If you are considering changing career, I would say to keep an open and enquiring mind. You will learn things that surprise and challenge you, including some that are hard to comprehend. Having an objective and adjusting when our plans don’t quite work out is a great lesson. When we are challenging ourselves, we will get things wrong and sometimes we will be disappointed. This is the sweet spot where we learn about ourselves, the point at which we can learn and develop. It's true that experiencing more successes than failures is key in terms of development of confidence, however, perhaps, when we don't quite achieve what we expect to, this is when we learn the most.

 

Follow in Mark’s footsteps and sign up to our MSc Psychology (Conversion) to begin a career in psychology.