SGPsychStud: Top 10 and Bottom 10 of 2015 posts

This post is a little late, unlike the usual Saturday when most posts will be published.  This practice has been started since 2013 where I announce the top 10 and bottom 10 posts of the year.  I believe this practice not only shows everyone the most popular posts, it also shows people some of the most underrated posts of the year.  This summary also shows the types of posts everyone is interested in, which can help me writing better and more interesting posts.
This year, there is a total of 43 posts, with this final post of the year being the 44th (Bad omen??), so here goes the two lists.

Top 10 views of 2015:
  1. SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 1) - October
  2. SGPsychStud: Applying I/O Psychology Knowledge to Get a Job - April
  3. SGPsychStud: Review on Upcoming SPS Career & Networking Forum - August
  4. 2015 Update: Academic requirements for local psychology diplomas and degrees - February
  5. SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 3) - October
  6. SGPsychStud: Current Trends in Psychology - March
  7. Miss Psychobabble: How to Improve Your Sleep to Save Your Career - January
  8. SGPsychStud: Staying Competitive in the Psychology Job Market as a New Graduate - May
  9. SGPsychStud: 5 Things Students can do during the Holidays - May
  10. SGPsychStud: Psychology Facebook Pages to Follow - July
From the Top 10 list, it seemed like most of them (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9) are inclined towards career planning and working in the psychological industry.  Other posts include the topic of studying psychology (4, 10) and other other topics (6, 7).  This might be the result of a week of advertising on Facebook, and a focused topic for the posts for the whole month of October.  This whole series was originated from the No. 2 post of the year.  
So here's some possible ideas:  
Should I continue the topics of career planning and psychology education and training (top topics of 2013 and 2014)?  Should I have a fixed topic for certain months?      
Bottom 10 posts of 2015:  (1 being most viewed and 10 being the least viewed)
  1. SGPsychStud: Networking on Social Media - November
  2. Mastering APA style #1: Formatting and Referencing - January
  3. Miss Psychobabble: How Junk Food Control Our Eating Behavior - March
  4. SGPsychStud: SPS Student Forum Conversations - December
  5. Miss Psychobabble: Day-to-day Activities that Improve Cognition For Older Adults - July
  6. SGPsychStud: Finding the Fun in Studying and Learning - June
  7. SGPsychStud: The Cause for Most Arguments and the Solutions - November
  8. SGPsychStud: The "Nothing Box" and Mindfulness - June
  9. Miss Psychobabble: Dogs Can Make You More Attractive Instantly - August
  10. Miss Psychobabble: Psychology Of Money - How To Gain Positive Feelings When Spending - December
It is quite expected that the November and December posts would be of a lower viewership, however it is quite unexpected that there are posts from January and March that are lower too.  It seemed like these posts are of random topics and not like the above Top 10 list.  This is even in spite of having topics relating to career planning (1, 4), psychology education and training (2, 6) and topics of interest to many such as relationships and communication(1, 7), mindfulness (8),  animals (9), and money (10).  I do hope that everyone will read these posts if they are of interest to you!!!

For this year, I would like to sincerely thank Miss Psychobabble (13 posts) and MY Psychology (collaborated post) for their contribution over this year.  Hope that we can bring even more interesting posts for our viewers!! 
Lastly I would like to apologise that I have discontinued the Events page as I am unable to manage the page regularly.  However, I will be posting or sharing events on Facebook whenever I see them, so make sure you stay tuned!!!

Happy New Year!! Hope everyone is enjoying the double long weekends!!! 

Miss Psychobabble: Psychology Of Money - How To Gain Positive Feelings When Spending

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Image Credits: pixabay.com (CC0 Public Domain)
A surefire way to obtain positive feelings toward your spending is to make sure that you always have something to look forward to.

Anticipation of the reward:
"Say you are getting your bonus next week, why not consider treating yourself with the designer lipstick you have been wanting for months?"
The anticipation of purchase, no matter how big or small the item is, can increase pleasure vastly.  Savoring positive outcomes through anticipation has been shown to have stronger effects than reminiscing something that you have already acquired.

Delaying the reward:
Try asking yourself:
"What shall I reward myself after I stick to my budget and get my paycheck this month?” 
 Then, grant what your desires.

Have you heard of the Marshmallow test done by Stanford University?  

Delaying your purchase can increase the chances of better decision-making and the chances of creating uncertainty.  Decision-making can be influenced by the present bias wherein people act upon the momentarily wants and make immediate choices that are inconsistent over time.  This often leads to buyer's remorse and frustration with the purchase.  By delaying your purchase, you can make better choices as you envision the item's worth over time.
Delaying purchases also helps create uncertainty.  You are unsure on what to get and if you are really going to get it. But, you are motivated nonetheless because of the Zeigarnik effect.

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Image Credits: pixabay.com (CC0 Public Domain)
Ultimately, if you can wait…Your anticipation and delaying of the reward, and uncertainty of choices, will fuse together to give you more positive feelings toward spending your money.


Source: Adapted from Anna Agoncillo's Psychology of Love, Money, & Life book (http://www.tusitalabooks.com/ebooks/psychology-of-love-money-life)

SGPsychStud: SPS Student Forum Conversations

Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/spsstudentforum/
The SPS Student Forum was a very enjoyable event for students to attend, with lot of knowledge sharing done on that day.  Throughout the day, I have been having conversations with students. Here's some questions and advice that I have given some students.

A summary of general good comments:
"The talks are very educational and now students have a clearer idea of what is required to becoming a psychologist and what psychologists really do."
Question:  "What are some difficulties faced by psychology students?"
Answer:
"Psychology modules have a range of different subjects and requirements, from chemistry and biology to statistics and others.  It really depends on your strengths and weaknesses.  For a student who has no background in biology, he/she might face difficulties in modules that require him/her to study about the brain parts and the nervous system.  For a student who is weakness in maths, the statistics classes might be more difficult."  (Read this post)
Question:  "How do I decide which school to go to?" (For the JC and Polytechnic student)
Answer:
"Getting into local universities would be a good thing, as you are closer to your family.  But there is some comparisons between the local univerisities, e.g. the acquiring of a Honours degree.  NTU offers direct Honours, but NUS does not."  (Read this post)
"If you are considering overseas degrees, you will need to understand the differences between U.S., U.K. and the Australian training (see this post on years of training).  To be a psychologist in Singapore, you will need a Master's degree and 1000 hours of training (according to SRP).  This is most similar to the Australian system (read this post)."
Question:  "The talks are really good, but some of information that the speakers say are not very in-depth and we can already find out about them on the internet?"
Answer: 
"This is because some of the speakers are from the government ministries, and hence the information given may be restricted in some way."   
Question:  "The speakers have given a very bright and possible future that we can become psychologists, however what are the chances that a student becomes a psychologist?"
Answer:
"Let me be brutally honest with you.  As you already found out, you need a minimum of a Masters postgraduate degree to become a psychologist.  However, not all with a Master's degree will become a psychologist, and not all students will get a Master's degree.  Probably only about 20% of you will become a psychologist.  That's the truth.  The path of psychology is a difficult one."  (Rest this post)
"However you have to know your strengths and interests.  Psychology undergraduate degrees are very general degree, and hence you need to build up your experiences and portfolio through an exploration of your strengths and interests.  With your experiences, portfolio, and degree, this combination will help you in your journey to becoming a psychologist." (Read this post)
Question:  "Why should students apply for SPS membership? What are the benefits?"
Answer:
"Honestly, there are not many benefits. According to the SPS website, there are two benefits for student members:  (a) subsidised rates for events and (b) networking opportunities with psychologists and other members.  This may be seemingly nothing.  However, do not underestimate the Power of Networking!!  Networking with the SPS Council and members allows you to be in the loop for any upcoming issues or topics that may affect you as a student or your future career as a psychologist.  Hence it is really important that you often get chances to interact and network, and be in the in-group of psychologists."  (Read this post)
"Even for the SPS Full member, there are not much benefits and the main way to recoup the $75 membership fee is to attend the free AGM lunch/dinner which might go up to $65.  As for other members, including student members, they are not entitled to their free AGM lunch/dinner."
Hope everyone enjoyed your time and learnt something during the SPS student forum yesterday!!!

SGPsychStud: Networking on Social Media

Image Credit: www.marketingland.com/wp-content/ml-loads/2014/07/social-media-mobile-apps-ss-1920.jpg
In definition, social media are
"websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking." (From Google)
The main purpose of social media is to allow people to "create and share content" or "to participate in social networking".  Social media has become so integrated with our lives that most people will have one social media account, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.  However, (imo) not all social media are suitable for all types of networking.  It has been mentioned previously that networking is a essential task in a successful career, regardless of your industry, and social media is a huge medium where this can be easily done.

The question is "Which social media is more appropriate?"

Firstly, we need to understand the type of network or association that we have with the other person; this can then be followed by evaluating the type of social media that we wish to be connected on with him/her.  Rather than discussing how the respective social media is being used, I am talking about who you are connected to and why they are connected to those social media.

Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/567312884280605883/
It really depends on how intimate or close you are with the other person.  Here is my suggestion for how the levels can be broken down and how social networks can be used in the respective levels:
  • Intimate level
    • This level includes your close friends and family.  These are the people who you communicate on a regular basis.  Social media does not restrict you but you have all of them on all levels of your social media. 
  • Personal level
    • This level include your friends from school, previous work places, and family friends who you do not contact regularly.  You still wish to have them as contacts for old times sake, even though you might not have seen them for the last few years.  Hence you have them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar social media platforms to get regular updates of their daily lives, no matter how far they are from you.
  • Professional level
    • This level includes people from your current workplace that you are not too close with, and/or people whom you only contact for work purposes.  For the group of associates, lunch and work meetings are probably the only reasons you spend time alone with them.  For them, you would probably restrict them to your work emails, and probably LinkedIn.  For professional networking, LinkedIn is probably the preferred choice in Singapore. 
  • Acquaintance level
    • These are people who you would probably only meet once in your lifetime.  It would be preferably that you do not have them on any of your social media.
Social networking is undoubtedly very important to help you build personal and professional connections, however it is also equally important to distinguish the level and the respective social media to connect with the person.
You do not want strangers on your most intimate social media!

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

Image credit: http://www.eventnook.com/event/spsstudentforum
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:
Image credit: http://www.eventnook.com/event/spsstudentforum
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

Image credit: http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2014/1/20/cool-things-down-to-keep-your-relationship-hot-the-importanc.html
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:

Image credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ZDD48bLLsFc/maxresdefault.jpg
 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.

A

SGPsychStud: 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)!!


Image credit: http://bethechangecareers.com/the-process/
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."

SGPsychStud: 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? 
Image credit: http://bethechangecareers.com/the-process/

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 http://mystudio.bethechangecareers.com/resources/resources-2/]

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)...

SGPsychStud + MY Psychology: Sense of Emptiness Experienced by Undergraduate Students

This is the common feeling experienced by many new undergraduate graduates.  We cannot deny that it really happens, especially for those who do not have a job upon their graduation.

This sense of emptiness may stem from the fact that they have no clue of “What is Next?”;  they might have just put their goal at the point of finishing a degree.  But, “what is next” after completing the degree?  It may be an issue for them because there are uncertainties and too much unknowns for them especially when it comes to the point whether they want to pursue their Masters postgraduate degree or enter the workplace or take a “Work & Travel” experience overseas.  Sometimes, facing uncertainties lying before them, they may choose to stay in their comfort zones and avoid thinking about what will happen after their degrees.

Perhaps, these feelings could be due to the sudden change of lifestyle.  When they graduate, they are no longer students; they are no longer tied with assignments and university life.  It has come to another stage in life where they may need to apply for job interviews.  During the period of waiting for a reply from companies, they might experience emptiness and uncertainty;  sometimes they might even doubt about their choices and always wonder whether it is the right time to go for work, whether or not they are mentally prepared for that choice.

They may feel additional pressure when their peers start moving on in different directions, resulting in them being left alone without any clue of moving forward.  At this point, they may have also realized that they have not developed a very good understanding of their own interests and abilities in psychology, hence they did not know which psychological area they should specialise in.

“Been applying for jobs, and went for some interviews.  But I've been wondering "What could have gone wrong during the interviews?"  "Why can't I get a job, why is it so difficult here in Singapore?"  (Though I know the answers to those questions, I refuse to give in & keep persisting.)
All I just want is to get a job.  A job that's related to Psychology.  I do not mind starting from scratch, but this is clearly not something that can be done overnight.
I don't wish to waste my time.  I need to be out there, doing something productive, contributing to the society.  But right now, I'm still stuck in the rut.  Troubled.  The fear of being unemployed.  What can I do?”

Here are some suggestions for recent graduates:
  1. Keep connected with seniors who have furthered their studies or entered the workplace.  Listen to their experiences so that you know what to expect if you wish to follow the similar path.
  2. Always develop a short-term goal and a long-term goal for yourself.  Share with your friends about your goal and the future self which you aspire to be.  With that, develop an action-oriented plan to move towards your goal and always assess the progress of reaching your goal.
  3. Seek help from Career Counsellor to understand your own career interest, strength and capability so that you can assess the compatibility between your skills, interests with the career fields that you are looking for.
  4. Network!  Go and meet people, and talk to them at events or conferences.  Always try to network at every opportunity possible, either with your seniors, friends, or possible future bosses and colleagues!  SGPsychStud actually got his job in Singapore through networking.  From “Power of Networking”:
“It's all about the opportunities to know new people for your own career / research prospects, as well as others to know you (which is very important as well).  With networking, it will help you to largely expand your work opportunities and network of associates.  So always make sure to get your name-cards ready before the event and their name-cards during the event.  Quite many people actually go for events and conferences not only just for the talks, but also for the chances to do networking with others.”


“The journey may be tough but never ever give up.  Tough times don't last but tough men do.  One day you'll get there.  Make the most of any opportunity you get.  Don’t always hold out for ‘the best thing’;  sometimes the best thing is not what you expect.”

SGPsychStud: Career Planning for a Psychological Career (Part 1)

Image Credit: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/career-planning-best-fit/

"A job is very different from a career.  A job might be something that you may change from time to time, but a career is something you do for a lifetime."

Disclaimer:  Instead of discussing about jobs, this post will be discussing about one's career development, with tips interchangeable for both one's choice of career and jobs.

To have a good (and even wonderful) career, the best way is to have a good career fit, as illustrated in the figure above.  It is a combination of having a good fit between a "right amount" of education, having good information about the jobs outside, and critical self-awareness, which requires good career planning.  I hope that through these posts, it can help to educate psychology students and graduating students to help understand themselves better and do better job research and planning, in order to have some planning for their future careers.

We must understand that the situation now is unlike the past situations of our parents' generation that having "Good grades = Having a degree = Good job / career = Good life".
From "Fear of Failures in our Journey of Studying":
Though the formula can be commonly found and proven right in some people, it does not mean that this is absolute truth and can be applied to everyone.  This is because at any point of the above formula, it can be proven wrong.  A person can have excellent grades, but may not want or need a degree to reach his/her life goal (thinking of how an engineering degree would do any good for someone who desires to be a chef).  With a degree, it does not guarantee a good career; that comes with sheer hard work in the job, with the degree probably being a good stepping stone towards getting the job at the very most.  A good career does not equate to a good life, as a good life comprises of too many other things, e.g. family, friends, etc. 
Why are so many people are complaining that they cannot find jobs (or their ideal jobs)?
There are 3 main reasons (please read Jobs Part 4 for more details):
  1. Psychology degrees are general degrees. 
  2. Lack of experience in the field.
  3. Disparity of job expectancies and salaries
With worries arising from these reasons, recent graduates may have this question:
"So which job should I choose??" "Can I even choose?"
I have actually answered this in a previous post (Jobs Part 3 from 2011).  The conclusion from that post was "It also depends on your level of skills and knowledge which you have gained through your degrees, and your past work experience."  Many do not know this, but only having a degree is not going to give you an edge over other competitors for that same job that everyone is applying.

Due to the above reasons, it is typical and reasonable that recent graduates have a general psychology degree, and lack of psychological-related work experience.
However, everyone is different, equipped with different skills!  
We need to know and understand our own knowledge, skills, abilities, and strengths such that we can use that to our benefit towards getting our ideal jobs.  Hence other than the general psychological knowledge that you obtain from the degree, I would advise that you obtain or have another specialty (which is based on your current interest, skills or abilities).  This will help in guiding you towards finding your ideal career!

Your Career =  Your psychological knowledge and skills + Your speciality


The next Career Planning post will guide you on the steps towards finding and taking action to get your ideal career! Read Parts 2 and 3!

Miss Psychobabble: A Basic Introduction to SPSS

keep-calm-and-love-spss.png
Image Credits: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-love-spss
SPSS, originally produced by SPSS Inc., stands for Statistical Package for Social Sciences. It is one of the most widely used software, which can perform highly complex data analysis and manipulation. In 2009, IBM acquired its full rights and officially named it as IBM SPSS Statistics.

Aside from psychology and other social sciences, it is popularly used in the business, health, government, and banking sectors. With its pervasive nature, you cannot escape SPSS if you are a psychology major or a researcher. As nerdy as this might sound, I have to admit, I loved using SPSS during my school years, although majority of the students disliked it.
My fondness for the software can be rooted from my interest in programming, organizing, and analyzing data. If you are my complete opposite, I suggest for you to brush up on the basics of SPSS; only then can you finally appreciate its capabilities.

Functionalities of SPSS
The fundamental use of SPSS is to analyze your data in three ways namely:  
  1. Describe the data using descriptive statistics, 
  2. Examine the relationships between several variables, and 
  3. Compare the groups to determine if there are significant differences.
Some of its functionalities include:
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Contingency tables
  • Reliability tests
  • Correlation
  • T-tests
  • ANOVA
  • MANOVA
  • Forecasting
  • Survival analysis
  • Regression

Image Credits: http://diylol.com
SYNTAX LANGUAGE OF SPSS
The proprietary language of SPSS is known as the syntax command language or syntax, for short. Here is the full list of the syntax used:
  • Name
  • Type
  • Width
  • Decimals
  • Label
  • Values
  • Missing
  • Columns
  • Align
  • Measure
  • Role

Further Recommendations
Read more about everything SPSS in my favorite free online website here (https://statistics.laerd.com/features-overview.php). As a beginner, it is best to browse more on the basic steps in using SPSS.  Know the steps by watching an informative video here:


Website Resources:
http://www.uwindsor.ca/its/sites/uwindsor.ca.its/files/What%20is%20SPSS.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPSS
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/spss-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

SGPsychStud: Cognitive Psychology in Decision Making

Image fom: http://eintimex.org/4259-The-Steps-of-the-Decision-Making-Process-Poster
Yesterday (11 September 2015), Singaporeans had to make a  decision that will affect their lives for the next five year.  Results were out early this morning with the ruling party winning a landslide of 69.86% of votes and securing 83 out of 89 seats available in the Parliament.  This post is paying tribute to this SG50 event, with the examples given with reference to the elections and yet discussing about the topic of how cognitive psychology works in our everyday decision making.
So how did  you make that decision?  And what factors have affected you in making that decision?
The best steps to making that decision is as shown in the above picture:
  1. Identifying the clear goal or end result (this might be different for different people)
  2. Identifying all possible options (in this case, there might only be two, or at most three:  Ruling party or opposition parties in your constituency) 
  3. Study your options (understanding as much as possible 
  4. Select the best option and carry out the decision (that is to vote!)
  5. Evaluate your decision (A reflection of whether you have made the right choice)
However, even before we make that decision, there are five factors that will sway one's ideas and thoughts towards making a decision (Dietrich, 2010Exforsys, 2011):
  1. Past experiences
  2. Cognitive biases, such as belief bias, hindsight bias, omission bias, confirmation bias, etc. (Dietrich, 2010Exforsys, 2011)
  3. Individual differences
  4. Belief in personal relevance is where the decision is highly related to the individual and believe that his/her vote and opinion matters.
  5. Escalation of commitment is where the decision is based on the amount of commitment and investment that an individual has put into towards that decision.  This may result in the decision being made due to the large amount of commitment/investment, rather than a objective view of the situation.
How to make the best objective decision?
The main step to do this is Step 3: Study your options.  By having indepth analyses of  our options (i.e.an evaluation of each of the political parties and what they have done or going to do), we can then make the most objective decision to our best abilities.  In our analyses, it is unavoidable that we are highly affected by the five factors as mentioned above.  However, it is best that we take them into consideration, through understanding ourselves and the rationale for our decisions.

There are some individual characteristics would benefit you in making the most objective decision:
  • Do not fear  -  The fear of the consequences will make our decisions biased as it will be highly affected by the five factors.
  • Thirst of knowledge  -  The thirst of knowledge will allow us to do all the research that we need to evaluate the options in Step 3.
  • Curiosity  -  Having curiosity will allow us to ask the right questions and allows us to understand the situations better.
  • Positive mindset  -  Regardless of the results, having a positive mindset will help you to feel calm that things will still be okay.  Being calm will also help in making a more rational and objective decision.
Lastly, before we end, are you happy and proud of your decision (Step 5) and feel that you made the right decision?  Things cannot be changed now, since the election results are officially out.  You have another chance to make your most objective view in four to five years time!  So for the next election, make sure you go through this post again!!!


References
Dietrich, C. (2010).  Decision making: Factors that influence decision making, heuristics used, and decision outcomes.  Student Pulse, 2(02).  Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=180
Exforsys (February 24, 2011).  Factors and components of decision making.  Exforsys Inc.  Retrieved from http://www.exforsys.com/career-center/decision-making/decision-making-factors-and-components.html

Free Resources to Help in Writing Psychology Essays and Reports

As a student, other than having the ability to write your essays and reports, it is important that you know where to get the research articles, how to write your references and citations in APA style, how to analyse your data, and always improving your writing style.
Here are some FREE resources that you can use in helping you to do the above: Click on the words/links to access the resources

Databases:
If your university has subscribed to multiple databases, such as PsychArticle, Web of Science, or EBSCOHost, that is really good for you!!  However, if you do not have access to such paid databases, Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) is the one for you.  With the searching power of Google, Google Scholar has quite a large range of articles to choose from.  The only drawback is access to full articles might only be limited to free or older articles, as some articles are still restricted to the paid databases.

APA style citation and references:
APA style is the default referencing and formatting style for psychology writers and students.  Hence it is a must for all psychology learners to know the APA style, based on the Publication manual.
Cover of Sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
Learning APA style:
A Tutorial in Learning APA style (Flash player needed):  This is a summarised version of the actual book, and a good place to start learning from.  Other than from the APAstyle.org website, many universities have also written their own templates and guides based on the Publicaion Manual.  A good recommended one is Purdue Owl (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/), where they covered the APA style on writing the reference list, citations, the format for tables and figures, and even provided samples of APA papers.

Writing citations and reference list in APA style:
If you are too busy (or too lazy) to write your own reference list, there are actually resources to help you write them.  Such universities actually subscribe to Endnote (http://endnote.com/) and it is a really good tool to help you organise  and track your references, as well as help you write your reference list as you cite them in MS Word.  It is completely compatible with MS Word and able to bring wherever you go with its web version (https://www.myendnoteweb.com), which are some of its great selling points.
However, if you do not have access to the commerical Endnote, there is still hope!  Zotero (https://www.zotero.org/) is probably one of the next best choice, as it is a free desktop and web-based tool which can help you organise and cite (and even share) your references.  Hence it is probably the next best tool and resource you can have in your computer. 
Note: As the programs provide the APA references in the format it is written in the program, your article name should be in sentence case (correct e.g. "Obedience to authority: A case study), rather than having each first letter in capitals (wrong e.g. "Obedience to Authority: A Case Study).

If you only have a few references to cite and reference, as your assignment is only a short essay rather than a thesis or dissertation, I would also recommend you to use Google Scholar to do your references.  Here is an example of how to do it:
  1. Search for your article on Google Scholar.
  2. When it appears on the search engine, you will notice the link to "Cite" (See the last article in the picture below, there are a few choices:  "Cited by 7127; Related articles; All 18 versions; Cite (this is the one); Save; More"
  3. Click on Cite, and the small window will appear as below.
  4. Click on the APA citation, and copy and paste on your word processor.
  5. Reference list done!  However please note to arrange your references in alphabetical order and format it with a hanging indentation.

Finding DOIs:
Sometimes, the DOI (digital object identifier) might be missing in your reference article.  The best place to check for the DOI is CrossRef (http://www.crossref.org/SimpleTextQuery/).  Just by registering your email with them, and entering all your references into the box in the link, all the DOIs will be provided for you.  Just that simple!

Statistical Analysis:
We have always learn how to use SPSS for our statistical analyses.  However, since many versions of SPSS ago when IBM bought over SPSS, there is no longer a student version (where students can purchase at a cheaper rate) or a free trial version (which students can use free for two weeks).  Students are now only restricted to use the computers in their universities where SPSS is downloaded there,  or download SPSS from the universities' Computer Centres (however possible to be restricted to VPN or the school wireless network, resulting to only using the program in school).

Here's a solution for all these problems!  JASP (https://jasp-stats.org/) is a very new open-source and free statistical program which is a good alternative to SPSS.  It is able to provide descriptives statistics, as well as simple inferential analyses up to linear regression and ANCOVA.  Despite this limitation, it is more than sufficient for undergraduate students (and probably some Masters students).  The best part is it provides the output (tables and graphs) in APA format, which means that you can just copy and paste them in your report!  See the demonstration in the (soundless) video below.


Another free program that undergraduate (probably) and postgraduate students can use is G*Power (http://www.gpower.hhu.de/).  It is a tool to calculate statistical power and sample size for the different analyses.  As effect size and power analyses are required for publication, it is recommended that you learn how to use this program as you might need it.

Writing style:
To help improve your writing style, you can probably try Hemingway editor (http://www.hemingwayapp.com/) which also has a desktop version.  You can either type in or copy and paste your words on the web version.  From there, the editor will identify parts which you should improve on and indicate the level of readability of your writing (in terms of school grade).
Another website to check out readability and parts to improve writing is this Readability Calculator (http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp).
Side note: Both websites indicated that this post of more than 1000 words required a reader to have 11 years of formal education, hence indicating similar results!

Hope this free (or accessible) resources help you in your writing of essays and reports!!!