Aneta Nastaj – BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate

Current Employer: Plymouth University

Current Job Title: Information Administrator

Current Location: Plymouth

“During my degree I had many opportunities to be involved in world class research: through summer research apprenticeships and academic industrial placements.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduating in September 2016, I'm now undertaking a masters in Social Policy and Research at London School of Economics and Political Science. The reason why I chose this course is because I want to be part of policy implementation on environmental and social issues. I believe that research is critical for policy planning and this course fulfils both of my interests.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

During my degree I had many opportunities to be involved in world class research: through summer research apprenticeships and academic industrial placements. I also presented research that I conducted as part of my dissertation at British undergraduate psychology conferences, such as the Cracking Earth 2015: Building Sustainability Research with Foundations conference and the Sustainable Earth 2016 conference.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

The most difficult thing I have faced in my career is probably juggling both full-time studies and part-time work. Having two commitments meant that this has been tough at times. However, it has taught me great time-management skills which is definitely a transferable skill.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

The most exciting thing I have done so far in my career would have to be attending conferences. During those events I met a myriad of academics who are passionate about their research and about communicating it to the public in order to improve society’s welfare. This has inspired me to carry on with my education in the hope that in the future I will also be able to help with society's well-being.

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

If I were to start university again, with the benefit of hindsight, I would get involved in more societies. We have over 100 societies at Plymouth University and if someone is interested in starting a new one they are always encouraged to do so. I think they are a great way to meet like-minded people, encouraging you to leave the library once in a while!

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

As I mentioned before, I'm interested in environmental and social psychology. Studying at Britain's Ocean City means that we have access to natural settings on our doorstep! Academics at Plymouth offer great support and advice; without them, I wouldn't have had a clue at how to proceed with my education and career after graduating.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I think the most valuable lesson I was taught was during my first ever lecture which was on animal psychology by Dr Phil Gee, and it has nothing to do with animals or psychology! At the beginning of the lesson Phil had a sentence on his slide which read, "Question everything you read.” I must admit that I did not think much of it at the time, but this sentence has stuck with me until now and probably will for a long time. Once I started to plan my own research and gain experience from placements, I started to question everything that I was reading. This advice was very handy then – probably crucial, and it is certainly useful in all facets of life.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

Undertaking a placement during my degree had many benefits. During my placement I worked as a Research Assistant at Plymouth University in the Psychology Department. Often, I was working in a team of five people on eViz Energy Visualisation for Carbon Reduction projects which introduced me to all aspects of academic research. I was carrying out secondary research and primary research, designing studies, conducting experiments on participants, calculating the results, and writing reports. The benefits I gained are countless. Thanks to the support from my supervisor, Dr Sabine Pahl, I'm now more confident in person and in my abilities.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

One of my favourite memories from Plymouth is probably attending Summer Balls, when the campus is completely transformed with themed marquees, stages, and roller coaster rides. Plymouth always attracts big musicians: among others, I got to see Craig David and Labrinth. They are great events with which to end an academic year and celebrate achievements.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

I met my best friend at an Open Day and, at that time, we both weren't sure which university to choose. We saw each other again at the induction to the course and we have been really close friends ever since! I would really recommend going to Open Days and talking to everyone you can. I have met many lovely people, students and lectures, at Plymouth and I keep in touch with most of them. I'm also part of the Psychology and Sustainability group which has fortnightly meetings. Although I'm relocating to London and I won't be able to make every meeting, I'm planning to come down few times a year.  

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

I would definitely recommend undertaking a psychology course at Plymouth University. The lecturers there are passionate about their subject and make you feel welcome. For year one and two we were given free e-books worth over £1500 which made studying 'on the go' so much easier and of course helped with budgeting!

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Make the most out of your time at Plymouth University: get a part time job, volunteer, sign up to societies! Try to have a go at as many things as you possibly can because this is the best time to explore. If you feel like you don't have the time, make the time: it will be worth it!

Inspired by this story?

For more information about our range of psychology courses within the School of Psychology, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni are currently doing, please visit the psychology and social sciences interest area.