Ella Parkes

Psychology (Developmental and Educational) BSc (Hons)

View the course
  • Year of graduation: 2021
  • Current job title: Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner
  • Current employer: NHS Mental Health Support Teams in Schools
  • Industry sector: NHS Mental Healthcare

Your course of study

Why did you choose your course?

I chose to study Developmental and Educational Psychology because I knew I wanted to work within educational settings, and I had previously been interested in psychology and wanted to understand it on a deeper level.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most and why?

I really enjoyed learning about the developmental life stages, it taught me a lot about the way we develop from infancy into adulthood. I really enjoyed the psychology of Mental Health module in my final year, as that made me think more seriously about wanting to work within the mental health sector.

Your university/career journey

How do you think your studies have helped your career or personal development?

My degree has helped me massively as I don’t think I would be in the role I have now without my degree. I work in schools with children and young people supporting them with their Mental Health and a lot of the interventions we implement, are psychology based. The service is part of a government initiative to improve Mental Health through improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT Services).

Describe your career progression so far, and any plans you have for the future. Are there any particular hurdles you may face?

Before this role, I was a Youth Worker within the service, which helped me to understand the service, the processes and I was able to work alongside qualified mental health practitioners. There’s also a lot of progression in the sector I’m working in, so my future plan is to progress further in the service.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree are most useful in your current role?

I’d say the child and adolescent mental health module has really helped me in relation to my current role. A lot of what I learned from this module, has been relevant and helped me in my current post working day to day. Mindfulness is also something I learnt about on the course, and this is something I have implemented in my daily life.

Extra-curricular activities

What extra-curricular activities did you participate in whilst studying at UON, i.e. sports, societies, volunteering, working as a student ambassador?

I worked as a residential life assistant at the university during my second year on the course. This also helped me skills wise, as I was supporting 1st years with their wellbeing. I also took part in the National Mentoring Consortium Programme at the University, which was open to BAME students in which the University paired us up with a professional careers Mentor. This helped me to gain more confidence and I participated in public speaking at the end of the programme which is something I would have never done before.

How did these extra-curricular activities enhance your career prospects?

It gave me valuable communication skills and allowed me to work as part of a team – essential in my current role. Also, all of these skills were transferable, and I gained a lot of confidence.

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

Where I work, we link in closely with communities, faith leaders, teachers, youth groups and other organisations that work collaboratively in supporting the Mental Health of children and young people.

Your advice.

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path, e.g. tips on gaining entry, accessing opportunities, anything you wish you had known earlier?

Go for it. If you want to do something and you have the passion for it, go for it. I never thought I’d even get into university when I applied, but I did, I graduated, and I am now well on my way to a fulfilling career I’m passionate about.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

Fun, interesting, challenging but worth it.