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Deakin University

  • #6 in Computing & Information Systems
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Alicia Russo

I wanted a more "hands on" approach to help people which is why I decided to do my post grad in counselling.

What did you study at the undergraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now? Are you studying and working at the same time?

Undergraduate was a Bachelor of Science (Psychology major). Graduated 2011. Postgraduate was a Graduate Diploma of Counselling and I graduated from that in 2014. I'm not currently studying.    

What have been the most important stages of your life?

Majority of my life has been surrounded by studying, so I completed high school and was accepted into a Bachelor of Science with a psychology major. After I completed this course, I wanted a more "hands-on" approach to help people which is why I decided to do my post-grad in counselling. I focused a lot of my studies and furthered my knowledge, but this didn't allow me to have any experiences travelling, unfortunately.    

How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and how long have you been working there?

I applied for my most recent job and had to undergo a two-phase interview along with completing a psychological assessment. I have been in my current job for roughly 3 years. 

What made you decide to progress with further study?

I felt that my undergraduate wasn't enough to get a job in the field that I wanted, and it was also very heavily theoretically based. I wanted to have a more "hands-on" approach to helping people which is why I decided to complete my postgraduate studies and keep studying. I also felt after my undergraduate I didn't have the skills I needed to go out into the workforce I had studied for. 

How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

I had decided on a graduate diploma in counselling as I had decided to complete a short course on it at Holmesglen Tafe. I really enjoyed the introduction into the topic and really felt as if I had found my path on where I wanted to go and how I could help others.  In retrospect, I wish I had searched a little more as I would've decided to complete a social work degree as it opens up more avenues. 

What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?

There weren't many prerequisites from what I can remember - basically I had to have studied and completed my undergraduate course with a psychology background to be eligible.  I had to submit a few stat dec documents - certificate of my undergrad degree along with my official grades for each subject I studied. 

What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)

Study involved initially going into uni to attend classes - small sized which was nice weekly, but this changed to more of an online style teaching - more lecture style. Depending on the unit there may have been a quiz but more often than not, it involved submitting 2 essays per unit. 

Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.

Yes, I can register now as an accredited counsellor and really could open up my own private practice if I choose too. Or considering the wide range of subject studied I could become a school counselling, drug and alcohol counsellor, I could do case work or anything else related to mental health field. 

What do you love the most about your course? 

Small class sizes, good people who are like minded and supportive. Lecturers/teachers were hit and miss as they all had very different teaching styles and expectations. It was convenient to be able to listen to lectures online but the times I had to attend some classes weren't the best as I would finish at 9pm

What are the limitations of your course?

I can't really apply for any positions where they require a qualified psychologist or social worker - I think there is a misconception that being a counsellor is "less" than the other two in that perhaps we don't have enough knowledge to deal with certain clients or situations which is true in a sense. It just depends on what they're after.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.

Apply for as much volunteer work in your related field as possible! It opens up a lot of avenues for you as well as helping with networking. Sometimes it's not what you know but who you know!