Preparing Yourself for the SPS Student Forum (as well as other events)

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This advertisement was sent out to schools earlier yesterday.  This is for the upcoming SPS Student Forum, which was first advertised briefly during August this year.  I have even wrote a pre-event review on it previously.  As mentioned before, I hope these will be surfaced during the forum:
  1. A greater understanding of the current situation in terms of Singapore registration in psychology.
  2. A recommended pathway of studying psychology in Singapore
  3. How students can be better connected to SPS and what SPS can provide to students in the near future. 
Based on the program:
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It seemed that probably items 1 and 3 may be covered in the keynote speech, if not in the breakout sessions.  However, it is best to treat this event as an information and networking session, where you can find indepth information about the different psychology specialisations in Singapore and network with the experts in the field.
Did you know that the keynote speaker, Ms Clare Yeo (President, SPS) is also the Senior Principal Clinical Psychologist and Head of the Psychology Department of Institute of Mental Health?
Having the POWER of Networking and knowing people may lead you to your future employment opportunities, research or postgraduate opportunities, or even knowing people from other related field.  So this event is the PERFECT platform to do it!  However you need to have these three conditions of thirst for knowledge, curiosity, and a positive mindset to help you increase your chances to learn new things and skills and knowing new people!  This is what a new graduate like yourself must do!

So how do you to best prepare yourself for this important event of the year (or any other networking event)??
How to Prepare a Self-Introduction (Elevator Pitch)

How to Perfect the Elevator Pitch
  • Do your research and prepare your questions
    • Similar to the above reason, time is definitely not on your side, so you have to ask the right questions.
    • Do research on the psychology industry, the specialisations for the breakout sessions that you are attending, and the speakers (once the speaker list is out).  With these knowledge, this will make your questions more directed and focused towards your best benefits!
  • Find out from the professionals and industry experts on what they are looking for in prospective employees
    • Ultimately, your wish to get a job in the psychology industry.  So why not try to find out the characteristics (or even the KSAOs) in the employees or staff that they would hire?
    • With these knowledge and understanding, you can then know the things to improve on to help you get that job!  
  • Dress properly for the event
    • Although it is not written, it would be best to dress at least smart casual for this event.  Some people do attend networking events in office wear or formal wear; with or without a blazer/coat depends on how formal the event is.
    • Think of this as an semi-formal interview or chit-chat session with your prospective employer - this should help to guide you on your attire. 
  • Email to those whom you have received namecards from
    • This is a very polite gesture that many forget.  In the midst of many conversations, it is very likely that those who you have spoken to will have forgotten about you in a few days time. Sending an email will help them remember your conversations and probably help you to stay connected even in the future, which may help in your future career progression.
    • Some people even go to the extent of connecting on LinkedIn immediately during the conversations so that the connection will exist in social media and not immediately forgotten.  LinkedIn is often the preferred choice as it is the leading social media for professional connections. 
The main ideas are to "Know what you want to achieve from this event" and "Create an impression"!

Extra note: I will most definitely recommend all of you to attend!!  Although there is a cost of $25, a good networking session (like conferences and seminars) often cost more than $25, and if you can learn something from this event, the money is definitely well-spent!

SGPsychStud: The Cause for Most Arguments and the Solutions

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In a lifetime, you will have many relationships with many people.  These include being in relationships with your family members, boy/girlfriend, husband/wife, children, peers, and colleagues, etc.  In all relationships, it is very common that conflicts and arguments occur;  it is almost impossible that arguments do not occur in your relationship with someone unless the person is a total stranger or someone that you totally do not care about.

So what normally happens in an argument? 
Watch this video by Daniel Cohen titled "For argument's sake":

Cohen said that there are three types of arguments, namely "argument as war, argument as proof, and argument as performance.", with the war example being the most common one where two parties come together and argue to defend their own points of view.  Most people will come into these conflicts and arguments emotionally charged; the level of emotions may depend on the individual.  At the end, more often than not, the situation will end up with one party winning and the other losing, and both parties will walk away with the thought of being unable to convince the other party of their own views.
But Cohen seemed to indicate that the real winner may be the one who earned cognitive gain:
"Okay. Who won that argument? Well, the war metaphor seems to force us into saying you won, even though I'm the only one who made any cognitive gain. What did you gain cognitively from convincing me? Sure, you got some pleasure out of it, maybe your ego stroked, maybe you get some professional status in the field. This guy's a good arguer. But cognitively, now -- just from a cognitive point of view -- who was the winner? The war metaphor forces us into thinking that you're the winner and I lost, even though I gained."
Back to the main cause of arguments in relationships:

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 It is just that simple!  The root cause of an argument or conflict is often due to miscommunication, resulting in a breakdown in the communication channels where the involved persons stop talking to each other.  In a discussion, both parties come together with their individual different views and communicate by trying to convince the other party their own view.  However, when things do not go well in this communication of ideas, both parties may become emotionally charged and that is when the arguments and conflicts start.  Hence I would define an argument as an "emotionally-charged discussion".

So how do we solve these arguments??
  1. Be open to discussion and ideas:  It is often very difficult to hold back our thoughts and voices, and let the other person talk during an argument.  However, in a successful discussion, it would be best if everyone could have a chance to communicate their ideas and points of views, and everyone being very open to everyone's else ideas.  This is the best situation where everyone wins as all has cognitive gains during this discussion. 
  2. Be a good listener:  This is where your listening and attending (aka 'counselling') skills have to come in.  This adds on the first point of being open.  Being a good listener yourself will show the other person that you are willing to listen to him/her, and hence increases the chances that you will be heard later as well.  This also helps in improving the relationship between the two parties, instead of worsening it like most arguments. 
  3. Discuss about the topic/idea not the person, without being too emotional: Note that during the argument, you should always stay on the discussion of the topic/idea, rather than scolding or calling names towards the other party.  The discussion is about the topic/idea, not the person.  You also have to be mindful that your emotions have emerged as a result of your involvement of the topic/idea, but the emotions should not be taken into the discussion.  The discussion is about the topic/idea, not about you or your emotions.
Lastly, here is another talk by William Ury titled "The walk from "No" to "Yes"" on resolving conflict: (Just watch the first 7 minutes)

Stage 2: Reflections of a SMU student

In SMU, Psychology is a major under the School of Social Sciences (SOSS).  The decision to declare the major occurs latest at the end of year 2.  Therefore, similar to that of NUS FASS, SOSS allows students to freely choose modules of student’s individual interest in Year 2 without having to declare and commit to their decided major.  This is useful because it allows students to try out different modules and broaden their knowledge before they commit to their preferred first major (either Psychology, Political Science or Sociology).

SMU provides a broad exposure of the various tracks of psychology that is associated with the different areas in psychology like Industrial and Organization Psychology, Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology, just to name a few.  For those who are really interested in getting to know more about the field of psychology but only a few areas of research of interest, the free choosing of modules is beneficial as the students can choose modules as and when it is available for bidding.
However, as SMU is a Management University, many fields of psychology are intertwined with the business setting.  Students who are interested in applying psychology in businesses or applying psychology in other related fields, like human resource, marketing, corporate communications etc., are highly encouraged to take up this course of study as the course of study is highly integrated and applied and related to the business world.

The pedagogy of classes is highly interactive.  Classes are conducted in seminar rooms and class participation is highly encouraged and students get the opportunity to clarify doubts that they may have with regards to the course as and when they have questions and both the professor and peers can learn from each other.
Everyday in class is a learning journey for all parties.  Professors are really approachable and are willing to spend out-of-class time to help students who are concerned with their school work or to simply provide suggestions and advice on future career prospects in their field of work.

Moreover, SMU is famous for its group projects and SOSS Psychology is no different.  Concepts are brought to life with a group projects and this is an interesting learning journey for the students and professors as it provides real application of psychological concepts in real life.  It is a tedious but enriching learning process at the same time, which requires conscientiousness and hard work from each student.  SOSS Psychology challenges students mentally as it might sometimes draining as students have to juggle keeping up with the new content learnt each lesson with project work, regular quizzes and midterm tests and other assignments all at once.  This may sometimes be mentally and psychologically draining for the students and their passion may be buried in the excessive workload.  However, students may learn time management skills as well as encourage collaboration and teamwork in the process and eventually take away an eventful and accomplishing university journey in SOSS Psychology.


Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3)

Before you read this post, make sure you have already read Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 1) and (Part 2)!!

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After obtaining the knowledge about yourself (Step 1) and your choice of career (Step 2) (from Part 2), the next step is to start working towards getting that job or being in that career.

Step 3: Getting Focused

From Step 2, it allows you to have some form of a goal.  Step 3 is for you to get focused and set you up towards that goal.  There are several things that you can do for Step 3, and here it is in this sequence.
  1. Decision making:  You just have to ask yourself this question. Are you passionate enough (or have enough interest in this career) such that you will not give up in times of difficulties??  Sometimes reality and life difficulties may hold us back in our paths and journeys towards our goals.
  2. Goals or milestones:  Having a goal will help in "starting the engine" towards your goals.  Your goals may be "to become a psychologist', "to do a Masters postgraduate degree" or even "to finish your Bachelors undergraduate degree".   Having milestones allow you to have toa ssess whether you are on-track towards reaching that final goal;  they may also act as smaller and easier goals that you can work on towards that larger final goal.
  3. Action planning towards the goals:  Once you are confirmed on the goals and determined that you are willing to work at it till the very end, the next thing is to decide how you are going to reach that goal.  What are the things you are willing to do such that you know that you are working towards your goals or milestones?  Step 4 provides you with these things that you can do.

Step 4: Taking Action

I have stated previously some things that you can do or may be already be doing to help your career (See 5 Things Students can do during the Holidays).  They include volunteering, doing internships, attending talks, as well as network with professionals working in the psychological field.

There are actually several other things you can do (or learn to do) to create your personal career brand:
  • Job search and interviewing strategies:  These include learning how to do tasks like:-
    • Writing a good resume and CV (where your talents and strengths are reflected)
      •   Your resume that employers may be researching about you can be a hardcopy print version or an online version.  As such are your LinkedIn profile, your personal online portfolio, or even your Facebook account.  It is very obvious that some employers research on the job applicants online, so make sure you manage your online profile and resume well!
    • Being ready for interviews
      • Make sure you are well-prepared for upcoming interviews, by keeping yourself informed on several things, such as knowing details about the company (company culture and history), the actual job (what it entails and what skills and abilities are required for it), and common types of questions that employers may ask.  Here are some common interview questions and tips to tackle the questions from Forbes and The Daily Muse!!
    • Be ready to ask some questions
      • Do not only ask questions about the salary.  Also do not say that you do not have any questions;  this may imply to the employers that you do not know anything or are not interested about the company.
      • Always ask questions for the purposes of (a) making sure that the employer is interested to employ you, (b) demonstrating your interest in the job, and (c) checking whether you will be a good fit into the company.  Hence your questions may be about more indepth knowledge about the skills and abilities required for the job, the career progression in the company, and the existing company culture.  Here are some questions recommended to ask.
  • Gaining work experiences through volunteering or internships: As we know that having prior experience is a huge advantage in securing a job position, but with any actual real working experience in the field, your next best chances are to get the work experiences through volunteering or internships.  Here are some websites or companies that you can go through to try to apply to volunteer or get internship.
  • Networking (including both social and online):  Networking is very useful for many reasons.  Below are the purposes and reasons of networking (from Power of Networking)
    • Employment / business opportunities - You never know; you might just find your next boss / customer just by talking to them. 
    • Opportunities to knowing new associates from similar or different fields - Support for your clients often tend to be holistic, rather just from the psychologist (yourself); hence often, you may need the help or support from others from a similar or different line of work, such as psychiatrists, doctors, lawyers, etc.
    • Research opportunities - Through knowing others in the similar field or area of research, this may open up your chances of working with others in research projects in your area of research.
    • Social networking - Just purely for the reasons for making friends and acquaintances in psychology and your psychological speciality/area of research. 

Here's a quote to end off this series of Career Planning posts!!  Hope you have liked this whole work of career-related posts on SG Psych Stuff Facebook page!!!
"Not everyone can find a perfect fit in the job market – Some people have to create their own."

Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 2)

After you have identified your KSAOs, the next things to identify are your strengths and weaknesses in those KSAOs.
KSAOs of a Psychologist
(Copyright of SGPsychStuff)

Of the KSAOs, which are those that you are good or great at?  Which do you lack currently?  

You have to ask yourself these honest questions.

After you have identified your strengths and weakness, it is time to do something about it!!

But how are you going to do it? 
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Here are 4 steps to doing it!

Step 1 : Knowing Yourself

Before moving on you should know who you are as a person, and what you are good at.  This include things like your learning styles, values at work, personality traits, interests, and skills that you are done at.

Here are some links which you can use to learn to learn about yourselves.
[Credit: Some of these weblinks are provided from]

Learning Style:  VARK Questionnaire
Career Values:  Value-Sort Activity (RMIT website)
Personality Traits link 1:  Jung Type Test 
Personality Traits link 2:  IPIP Big-Five Factor Markers
Interests:  O*NET Interest Profiler
Strengths:  Motivated Skills Inventory

Step 2: Exploring Your Options

Once you understand your personality traits, interests, strengths, and values,  you should start to explore some options and do some research about the industry and the jobs available.  There are mainly three things to do:
  1. Occupational Research:  This involves doing some research on the occupation, on what it entails.  It is pretty much like finding out about the job description.  This can be done by browsing the job search sites or companies that offer jobs you are interested in.  Another reference website you can look at is  O*NET Online.
  2. Knowing the industry trends:  Knowing what is happening in the industry for the last 10 years will be beneficial in understanding whether this career is something that you would do.  I would advise that you go for career talks in your university or educational institute, and network with some professionals in the industry or the Singapore Psychological Society.  You can also learn about the trends through the different Facebook pages.
  3. Knowing your career options:  This will be useful to know the other jobs that you may be interested in.  This could be based on your personality traits, values and interests as mentioned above.  Knowing this will be beneficial if you wish to have some form of a career start or career change in a different industry, other than psychology. 

The main purpose for Steps 1 and 2 is to build up your knowledge regarding yourself and the career choice.  Once you have obtained this knowledge, you can then proceed to plan and to take action to work towards your choice of having a psychological-related career!!

To be continued.. See Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3)...