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The power of placements: Meet psych grad Jennifer

This article appears in: Health, Psychology
Psychology grad Jennifer on campus

Born and raised in Darwin, it didn’t take long for Jennifer to feel called back to the Top End while living and studying in Melbourne. 

“I missed home and wanted to do my postgraduate studies in the NT,” she says. 

“It was always my intention to come back home to invest my training in the NT community where I could.”

She applied to Charles Darwin University to study a Bachelor of Psychological Science Honours, followed by a Master of Psychology (Clinical)

The connections she made throughout her CDU experience have made all the difference in her career. 

Jump-starting her career

As part of her degree, Jennifer completed placements with both headspace Darwin and NT Correctional Services. 

As her interests in the psychology space are varied, placements helped her build her skills across multiple areas.

“I enjoyed my placements and met a lot of hardworking and passionate people,” she says.

More importantly, her placements jump-started her career. Both workplaces offered her employment after graduation. 

“I currently work full-time at the Darwin Correctional Centre and conduct private provider work at headspace one day a week.”

From youth work to the diversity of psychological services required within prisons, Jennifer continues to challenge herself professionally by working with diverse clientele.

“The prison offered support in facilitating my participation in the clinical registrar program with them to further my career,” she says. “They offered flexibility to continue my work at headspace so I feel like I get to have a breadth of experience as a professional and options to work across different areas I feel need support.”

“headspace as well has been great at allowing me to work across the different spaces and youth work is an area that is important to invest our time and effort in.”

“Without the placement opportunities I would not have made the connections I did and built an understanding of the different areas my skills could be helpful in.”

Jennifer was particularly grateful to receive the Sabrina Di Lembo Memorial scholarship for the duration of her master’s degree and found great support from the team at Sabrina’s Reach4Life. The scholarship supports an NT local in need of financial support to become a health professional to help those in distress. 

Placement challenges

Though her postgraduate psychology degree provided clear employment outcomes, Jennifer notes that getting the right balance of study and life can be tricky at the time.

“Having to do placements, write a thesis, have a social life, and needing to work in order to put fuel in your car can end up feeling overwhelming,” she says. 

“A lot of overcoming it was just reminding myself that I am already all I need to achieve my goals.”

The personal connections she made with her psychology peers were also source of solidarity and comfort. 

“We built a very supportive environment and I’ve made lasting friendships from my psychology studies.”

“A life well spent”

By finding a career path she cared about during her degree, Jennifer had a head-start in the post-graduation landscape.

“It set me up well to build relationships in workplaces in Darwin and helped me in making that transition from student to professional.” 

Now, she has the skills and knowledge to make an impact on the lives of Territorians in need of psychological help.

“I think people are deeply complex and if I can help someone to understand themselves, what they need, and enable them to change in a way that benefits them I think that is a life well spent."

“Having someone trust you with their thoughts and feelings is a privilege I don’t take lightly.”

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