"My top tip for students is… persevere!"
I was already working as a Forensic Psychologist (in training) at the time of studying, and completed the course part time in conjunction with work. On completion of the degree I continued to work in the same role, though was then eligible to commence Stage 2 of the route to Chartership as a Forensic Psychologist.
The MSc provided the academic basis for my current role as it was a requirement as part of the BPS route to Chartership. Without completing it, I would have been ineligible to continue with my forensic psychology training. I have since completed an MSc in Occupational Psychology to be able to support the organisation and staff within it from a different psychological perspective.
The MSc gave me the confidence to apply my knowledge of the field of Forensic Psychology to my clinical practice. For example, using my learning to influence treatment decisions and inform risk decisions. I am also a Team Leader for a large exam board, with responsibility for GCSE and A-level psychology papers. The academic modules of the MSc also provided me with knowledge that I can apply when developing exam mark schemes each year.
Persevere! If you are not already working in a forensic setting, it can be competitive to gain work in this field. It is helpful to have a clear idea about what field you want to work in, i.e. female, male offenders etc., though be open-minded to gain experience in any area if the opportunity arises. Be creative with where you apply – forensic psychology does not just relate to prisons. Try also secure hospitals or probation services as well. Getting experience as a support worker can help to give you an understanding of the working environment which can be invaluable at interviews.
I’d also suggest students develop an understanding of appropriate treatment approaches for working with various offender groups. Having confidence in being able to clearly communicate your evidence-based decisions about risk related issues is important.
The University gave me the opportunity to interact with others working in the same field as I, and sharing experiences amongst peers at the same stage of their career as myself was beneficial.