Veronika Solloway, Postgraduate Occupational Psychology Placement
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets PLC
I started with Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited as a volunteer assisting on a Situational Judgment Test (SJT) validity project. I then joined full-time as an Assistant Occupational Psychologist, working alongside Sainsbury’s in house Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Peter Burnham. Much of my experience has fallen in designing, validating and analysing SJT’s. In doing so, I got the opportunity to apply my knowledge of research methods and statistical analysis taught on the Psychology BSc and Occupational Psychology MSc, and this has been invaluable in preparing me towards chartered status and supporting me in my current job search. I also learnt a number of new skills including:
Critical incident technique job analysis
Interview and assessment skills
Conducting longitudinal research
Applied statistical techniques
I have also developed a number of assessments for the graduate scheme and HR Shared Services (including interviews, coaching exercises and group exercises). Lastly, I have designed a team building exercise based on the Belbin team roles for, the team I was working in. This placement has given me an invaluable insight into the world of Occupational Psychology in commerce; a vision that was not so clear from the lecture hall. I have gained a number of new skills and sharpened others that have enabled me to design valid and fair assessments. In terms of career progression, this placement has brought me a step closer to being a Chartered Occupational Psychologist.
Where possible, organisations running Occupational Psychology placements should explore incorporating rotations so that postgraduates could get experience across the HR business functions e.g. health & safety, selection & assessment, organisational development & change and training & development etc. Rotations will provide much of the necessary experience to become a chartered occupational psychologist. The return for running a placement will be an occupational psychologist who has been trained for your organisation, who understands your culture and priorities.
Peter Burnham, Occupational Psychologist
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets PLC
After attending a meeting at the DOP conference, I was reminded of a need for post graduate training schemes in Occupational Psychology. The meeting was made up of Psychologists from all of the big consultancies, but only a few who represented Psychologists who work ‘In house’. A few months later I was approached by Veronika Solloway, an MSc student at Birkbeck College, University of London.
She offered to work for free, 3 days a week, to help me gather and analyse date for a paper I was writing. I was so impressed by her determination; I decided to offer Veronika a one year paid, post graduate placement. This was an excellent opportunity for Veronika, who gained experience in: Job analysis, assessment design, test design, statistical analysis, executive recruitment practices and large scale project management. This was good for her, but even better for Sainsbury’s. The insight and academic knowledge that she brought kept us all on our toes; it was refreshing to be challenged.
I would definitely recommend this to other ‘in house’ psychologists, but also to the consultancies. There were of course challenges in employing a trainee psychologist, who had excellent academic knowledge, but limited practical experience. It took time to show Veronika how to do some of the basics, and the challenges the consultancies face when putting trainees in front of clients, are no less pertinent for ‘in house psychologists. However, with some careful coaching and explanation, I felt comfortable letting Veronika ‘loose’. In light of this, I still feel strongly that it was worthwhile. As a society we can not expect MSc graduates to magic experience out of thin air, without offering them the opportunities to learn a profession. Veronika will be finishing her one year placement in September and we fully intend to be recruiting another intern before then.
Inga Pioro, Consultant
PDI Ninth House
PDI Ninth House is a global human resources consulting firm who partner with the world's leading organisations, enabling them to make consistently effective talent decisions about leaders. PDI Ninth House have an established intern programme in Australia, and wanted to experience the same level of success in their London office.
The London programme has been running since January 2009 and interns work on a flexible basis depending on their commitments and the business needs, but typically around 3 days per month. They get involved in administering assessments, supporting and shadowing consultants, candidate care, and ongoing projects or research.
From our point of view, it's a win-win situation - interns get intensive experience in a professional environment, and get the opportunity to work toward their chartership, and PDI Ninth House get to work with and learn from highly motivated individuals. In Australia it's already created a pipeline of talent for future roles, and early indications show that we can achieve this in the UK. We used the DOP Job Board to find suitable candidates, and found the process straightforward, quick and appreciated the fact that it was free to use in the current environment. We received numerous applications from a range of qualified and high quality candidates and are very happy with the five successful interns.