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Victoria Gumbrell

Graduated 2012

Psychology graduate, Victoria Gumbrell

To me, psychology is understanding the human mind and behaviour. Being able to understand behaviour means we can help find way to teach appropriate behaviours, and increase socially significant behaviours. This can have an incredibly huge impact on an individuals quality of life, and psychology is the development of an understanding of this process.

Solent gave me a brilliant background of knowledge to start me off in my career. Having a base of knowledge to build upon was so helpful when I moved into my first post-degree job, and was invaluable at helping me progress in my workplace.

Our education pathway classes were a particular highlight of mine. The introduction to autism in some of these sessions really highlighted what I wanted to do. And the weekly baking I and my course mates did helped too!

When I left university I got a job working as an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) teacher in a specialist school for children on the autistic spectrum disorder. I worked with several different age groups from 10-19 over the next year, following the principles of ABA to help teach important and functional skills.

After a year I was promoted to a lead teacher, and had responsibility of a class of pupils and the teachers within it. During my time at the school I worked through two qualifications in ABA and well as completing my master's degree in high incidence disabilities.

After four years at the school, I moved to the adult services department to work as a team leader, responsible for a team of client and support workers. I developed and implemented behaviour support plans and programmes to help teach critical and required skills, and organised timetables of different activities including trampoline, swimming, cooking and gardening.

My degree taught me so many important skills, not just about psychology, but also about education, its history and the effects it can have.

My career highlight so far is a tough one to pick out. I am so proud of myself for completing my master's while working a full-time job, but within work it would have to be teaching a pupil to tie his shoes independently.

This was a skill we worked on over a number of months and he was so exceptionally proud when he finally realised he could do it on his own! That small bit of independence meant so much to him, and his mum was over the moon at his persistence to learn.

We also had many pupils who had a high level of challenging behaviour, and teaching one in particular to use a communication system was so rewarding. Once he was able to communicate his own wants and needs, the number of episodes of challenging behaviour reduced from more than 200 daily to zero. And he was so much happier being able to tell us what he wanted, and to be understood.

To someone wanting a career in this industry I would say focus on behaviour. Understanding why people behave in the way they do, and what they might be trying to communicate is essential to being able to help them and to progress in your career.

Volunteer and get as much experience as you can. Speak to people who have experience in any field you might be interested in. Learn as much as you can from them.