It is June 2016, a little over 5 years since I returned home from being a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September 2011 I started my undergraduate psychology degree at Bangor University, and in August 2015 I finished my masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at The University of York.
When I started at Bangor I had visions of coming to be a clinical psychologist and writing regular blog articles about the fascinating things I learned. As it happens, neither of those happened. University life turned out to be quite hectic, as I tried to juggle my university life in remote Bangor, my church life and my part time job in the local supermarket. I didn’t manage to get into the aspiring culture of volunteering in the right places to enhance potential applications to the highly competitive clinical psychology courses. I also felt weary over the routes into academic and psychotherapy careers. Plenty of people told me I had the potential, but while the things I learned interested me, I just wasn’t overly motivated to pursue an academic career in them.
Fortunately, I did find one thing very fascinating: programming. I did my masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. Cog Neuro is an area where a lot of new and novel analyses are performed. In many cases, the software doesn’t exist to analyse the results. It is up to the researcher to write the programs to perform the calculations. My final project involved a lot of coding and a novel approach to analysing data. It awoke a dormant part of me that I haven’t visited for a long time.
My masters project showed me what I was good at, and what I enjoyed. Before I went to Germany to be a missionary for my church, I did lots of programming and different IT projects, but since returning and deciding to pursue a psychology career I’d put it on the back burner. But it all came back to me pretty quickly, and it motivates me to the extent that I don’t always want to put it down.
I decided that a programming and analytics career would be for me, and I have since been fortunate in finding employment with Callcredit Information Group. I won’t go into too much detail about my job, because I think it’s important to respect my companies privacy, but it has been a terrific opportunity to develop my programming knowledge and apply my analytics skills to some interesting problems.
The other thing I mentioned at the top was my dream of blogging my learning at university. It’s a wonderful ideal that I didn’t manage anywhere near as often as I had hoped to. Apart from where it was a mandatory requirement for passing a course, time tended to get the better of me. I also didn’t want to give away too many details on the research projects we were doing, in case I jeopardised potential publication opportunities in the future.
So here I stand, having made a lot of progress yet ending up in an entirely place from where I intended. That is fine, because I’ve learned to play to my strengths and discover what motivates me. If you read back through my blogging history, you’ll see that I write a lot about academic motivation. Knowing how to manage knowledge and experience is key to keeping up with an unpredictable economic climate. I have a job I enjoy, where every day is different, where I have problems to solve and where I made a meaningful contribution to company processes. It sounds like the perfect cliché!
As for the blogging, it’s still a goal to write a meaningful and interesting blog about something. I’m just not entirely sure what. I’ll just take an open ended direction for now.