Sitting in a classroom and being lectured, I often felt a sense that I should not question what I am being taught. This was not due to any fault of the lecturers who mostly were very welcoming of students’ opinions. However, simply knowing that this was an area that they had spent years researching and seeing them sharing at their computers screen, or head in a book every time you look through their office window gave the sense that they must have all the answers and have a justified reason for their opinions whereas mine always felt too subjective to be taken seriously. During my undergraduate degree, my essays became more and more focused on the areas which we had been taught in class and less inclusive of the breath of what were my own opinions. This was simply because having a controversial argument seemed to lead to more frustration in conceiving the lecturer’s than arguing what was the ‘popular’ approach.
My undergraduate degree did not go according to plan and I did not leave with the mark I was expecting. This resulted in a loss of self-confidence and I was prepared to dismiss Psychology altogether afterwards. Due to this I was initially reluctant to apply for a position as a temporary psychology research assistant, as I believed that I would competing against those I was no rival over. My confidence was also dampened by my confusion that some marks felt overgenerous, while some felt very much the opposite. Despite this, the initial application only required five hundred words on why I wanted the position and I decided there was nothing lost in applying. I set about exploring the research proposal set out in the brief and used this to compare how it had a similar aspect to my undergraduate dissertation.
To my surprise, I got to the interview stage and was feeling more motivated and decided that there was no point in wasting this opportunity, although still convinced I would not be given the role. I set about researching the area to show my interest. This was very much more independent than when researching for assigned essays as I had no guidance on what other researchers had already found as I only had the brief outlined in the advert to go on. However, I found this a lot more interesting as I did not feel restricted as to what argument to support.
The interview seemed to go well and I explained that the research area was on a similar topic to my undergraduate dissertation project, what I had found previous research had already researched and their findings and my ideas on future methodology. When I left I was surprised that it had lasted forty minutes and didn’t know whether to take this as a good sign or that I’d rambled on for too long. To my disbelief, I was soon emailed that I’d received the post. Although I was overjoyed and excited about this, I also felt dread at the prospect of working with a senior lecturer, as I was worried he would regret his offer.
I found the initial research progress to be very different to a student assignment as I had no recommended reading or presentation slides to rely upon. I asked for ideas but was told to just review the relevant research area, presumably because at this stage the methodology was still flexible and my didn’t want my research review to be restricted to what he had already found. With no real guidance, as when a student where you can begin research by basing it around what you have been taught, I did another general literature review to establish in further detail what had already been found and what gaps had been missing.
Upon finishing my undergraduate degree I had many mixed feelings and a large part of me wanted to go through it all again. I felt a lack of confidence that I hadn’t achieved enough and I wanted to prove that I could do better. The research assistant role gave me a lot of my confidence back as I worked well with my supervisor and I felt I was having a positive influence on the research. I would recommend anyone who may be reluctant to apply to do so anyway. My main point of sharing this experience is to highlight that it is worthwhile to apply for a role even if you feel lack of self-confidence. I am still not sure why I was offered the role over other people as I never asked and still assume it’s either because no one else applied. I decided however not to focus on why I was offered the job because it was in the past and rather to focus on achievements during the post.
Due to the confidence this post has given me I am now considering doing a masters in transpersonal psychology, continuing my interest in how people rationalize, hopefully doing research on those that are prone to addiction.
Zoey Hudson graduated from Anglia Ruskin University with a BSc (Hons) Psychology in 2012. She is currently working with Dr. Richard Piech researching on reciprocity in the trust. When Zoey is not at work, she is volunteering for a charity, helping them to find means of funding. Rationality is a particular interest of Zoey’s and one which she would like to pursue further research in. As applying for financial funding is necessary to conduct research, Zoey hopes that her work and volunteering experiences will be useful in her career in psychology research.