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Is it worth me applying for this job in autism research?

(15 Posts)
nikos Mon 26-Oct-09 13:12:01

I know there are a few people here who are involved in research. I'm a PhD scientist (environmental science)although have been out of my field for some time now. Am currently working in a finance position.
But have for a long time wanted to get back into research, particularly in autism since ds has been diagnosed. Have read widely round the subject as only a passionate parent can!!! There are a couple of research jobs have come up at our local university.
Is it worth me applying? If there is a lot of competition are they more likely to take someone with a psychology or social science background? Or will my life experience of real autism count for something? Both posts involve quite practical aspects of autism (meeting parents and people with autism).

BobbingForPeachys Mon 26-Oct-09 13:19:19

I would email them Nikos andsee if you can go in for a chat first; even if they then say (and they may well not) that you need a different background, they should be able to advise you on how to fill the gap.

IME as well t gives you the chance to show enthusiasm if you do this.

nikos Mon 26-Oct-09 13:56:18

Do you think they would be willing to see me or would they want to just chat on the phone?

Niecie Mon 26-Oct-09 14:05:13

Your research skills are completely transferable which is a big bonus. Did any of your past research involve working with people rather than in a lab iyswim? That would be useful to draw to their attention.

I would phone up first to make sure you stood some chance of your application being read but I don't see what you have to lose by applying. Make sure you know exactly what research they are doing and know what literature they are basing it on so that you can drop it into the conversation.

nikos Mon 26-Oct-09 14:23:21

Subsequent work involved lots of work with people (haven't been in a lab for soem time). Definitely have a researchers head and am confident I can transfer lots of skills. But don't know if they will see it that way or indeed if competition is so tough for these posts I haven't got a chance.

Niecie Mon 26-Oct-09 15:06:18

I really don't think you have anything to lose by applying. If you don't apply you definitely won't get the job.

If you apply you stand a chance I would say. Phone them, ask them if it worth it - they will have a feel for whether they will be swamped by candidates or not. In psychology, life experience and dare I say it, age, is a useful thing. I would have thought it puts you streaks ahead of a youngster fresh out of their BSc or MSc course without having done any real work, any day of the week.

Can you play up your people skills from your current role too?

He who dares wins.grin

nikos Mon 26-Oct-09 15:19:20

I've definitely got age in my favour grin

BobbingForPeachys Mon 26-Oct-09 17:08:56

Nikos, I know the people at my Uni would love to see you (spec. the old Head os SEN Research chap), although of course attitudes and parsonalities vary.


saintlydamemrsturnip Mon 26-Oct-09 23:20:30

I contacted my local university when in your position a few years ago. I was invited in for a chat over lunch with an academic. I ended up doing an MSc - and then after that applied for various bits and pieces of funding - a funded PhD came up (luckily stipends have increased a bit since my first one!) and so I've ended up in the route.

When I had that first chat he said PhD subject area didn't really matter. The main problem I had was that no-one was doing the sort of research I wanted to do, so I ended up with the long winded way in.

I'd ring for a chat. Psychology departments can be a bit fixated on employing Psychologists. There are conversion degrees you can do which allow you to register as a psychologist after extra study. I think the OU may do one. I've ended up working in social sciences (my original degree was in Zoology and first PhD was Biology) - The MSc was psychological research methods, but I have still found that psychologists can be a bit suspicious of me.

nikos Tue 27-Oct-09 09:40:24

Thanks for that. I think I'll ring for a chat when I'm off work tommorrow. It's a medical sciences department so not all psychologists I think. but they are advertising for someone with a psychology degree or other social/health related degree.
Is it pretty flexible working in an academic department these days. Back in the days of yore when I was in one, you were pretty much your own boss and fitted the work around your own schedule.

Niecie Tue 27-Oct-09 10:06:57

Yeap, the OU do a postgrad conversion - takes about 3 yrs though. You have to 4 courses although if you have any psychology in your background you can get exemptions. I did a psych subsidiary course when I did my original degree (law and economics) so I was exempt the intro to psychology.

The results give you a converted degree, i.e. you have kind of changed your orginal degree into a psych one without actually taking the full 360 point psych degree. This gives you the Graduate Basis of Registration with the BPS which allows you to train as a psychologist. I would be surprised if it were a prerequisite of the sort of thing you want to do though. You could check as part of your conversation but it isn't really an option if the jobs are available now and it does seem like an awful lot of work for nothing - why do the social psych for example, when all you need are the developmental and probably the cognitive bits?

The OU isn't the only place that does it - you can do it elsewhere, probably in less time but full time study.

Good luck with your chat tomorrow. Let us know what they say. <nosey emoticon> smile

nikos Tue 27-Oct-09 10:41:25

Thanks Niecie. Yes don't particularly think I need to qualify as a psychologist to do what I want to do. think living with an autistic child must have given me years of psychology experience of autism!!! When I'm talking to professionals in the field who have a child with autism I certainly feel there is a depth of understanding which isn't there with those that don't. Think life experience must count for a lot.

saintlydamemrsturnip Wed 28-Oct-09 21:50:52

Medical sciences might be fine - I'm in health now with no problems. Trying to work in a psychology dept without BPS registration is fairly impossible ime though- although I agree that hands on experience is worth far more. The BPS doesn't agree though!

nikos Thu 29-Oct-09 20:01:46

Just an update - phoned the two contacts given on the job spec and no answer at either. They are both profs so not surprised really. Have emailed one of them but no reply yet. Will give it till end of tommorrow and if no word, will probably just apply anyway. Nothing to lose I suppose but a night at the 'puter trying to put together an up to date CV.
Thanks for all your input everyone.

sc13 Fri 30-Oct-09 14:11:40

Go for it, and please let us know how it went. Good luck!!!

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