Aoife Lyons, Psychology Manager with the Verbal Arts Centre.

 4 December 2018

Aoife used her background in psychology to run and evaluate a community engagement project based on short stories and poetry with the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry/Londonderry. After a few months she went from Intern to Manager.

"It gave me the opportunity to use my skills and qualifications in a meaningful and purposeful job"

What is your hometown? 

Ballybofey, Co Donegal 

What is your job title? 

Current: Psychology Manager (April 2018- Present), Previous: Psychology Intern (Sep 2017-Mar 2018) with the Verbal Arts Centre.

How did you find out about the job and what was the application process?  

I applied for my current position internally at the end of my internship with Verbal. I found out about the internship when it was advertised by a Lecturer in my university. 

What qualifications do you have?  

I have a BSc and MSc in Psychology and I am a qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (Practitioner who delivers CBT to people with common mental health problems) 

What are you responsible for in your internship– what have you helped to deliver?  

I was responsible for aiding in the development of the Reading Rooms model. I ran and evaluated a mental wellbeing Reading Rooms programme in Verbal. I carried out research and evaluations and wrote several reports and a research paper.

I attended regular training to help improve my skills for the role (provided by Verbal). I worked with one other team member to develop and create ‘annotations’ for the Reading Rooms. 

What have you learnt?  

I have learned a range of skills from working independently and with others in this fast paced, professional environment. I’ve improved my time management, organisational and communication skills. I’ve learned how to lead others in a professional setting.

The greatest thing I have learned is to be confident in my own skills and abilities. 

I have gained a new love of short stories and poetry through this role and gained insight to what it is like to work in an industry/ company that relies on external funding. The greatest thing I have learned is to be confident in my own skills and abilities. 

I feel like a trusted and valued part of the team, which was demonstrated in my success in getting a new role within the organisation at the end of my internship.  

What's the best thing about your internship/apprenticeship? 

To work in an area where I can use my training and qualifications, that has a vision that is in line with my personal and professional values and goals (i.e., to create a world where every story matters).

I had the opportunity to work with a multidisciplinary team, to attend conferences and training and work on projects that are relevant to my career goals. This has given me the opportunity to develop my CV and improve my professional contacts, knowledge and skills. 

What's the worst thing about your work?  

The salary was very uncompetitive for a job for someone with my educational background. The job is very demanding at times. Working with so many different people on a programme so new can be challenging. 

What advice would you now give to employers and young people considering an internship?

I would tell them all that it is an incredible opportunity. It gave me the opportunity to use my skills and qualifications in a meaningful and purposeful job.  

For a young person, it gives you the opportunity to get your foot in the door of a company, which in my case paid off! In six months I went from intern to team manager, I earn a competitive salary and manage a team. I have attended so much training and have built up a range of professional contacts and skills that will no doubt be of great value in the future. 

In six months I went from intern to team manager, I earn a competitive salary and manage a team.

For an employer, it gives them the opportunity to take a risk. I am from a psychology background, and I was the first person from my professional area to be hired in the Verbal Arts Centre. I proved to this organisation the value someone with my skillset can add to an arts organisation.

Since my internship the Verbal have invested in two more staff from psychology backgrounds, and we hope to expand our team in the future. 

What do you want to do next? 

I want to continue working with the Verbal for the foreseeable future, and continue working in a similar sector. 

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