It’s not just a 9 to 5

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This week I interviewed Dr. Katy Tapper, who specialises in Health Psychology. Katy’s PhD research was about aggression in schools, and her Post-Doc was on health eating in schools. Katy reflected that the reason she stayed in the area of Health Psychology was because there were many things about that appealed to her. Health Psychology can be applied, or experimental work can be carried out. Theories can be made and developed, and can also be related to topics such as social inequalities and government policies.

“It is a broad field, and there is lots of interesting literature to get stuck into.”

One of the best parts of the job for Katy is ultimately the research, and being able to study things that she is interested in. Katy articulates that teaching Health Psychology is a nice opportunity for her to read around areas that she wouldn’t directly be researching in. Katy also likes project supervision, as she gets to know her students better. The worst part of the role for Katy is marking exams. Although the Health coursework is interesting to mark as everybody does something a little bit different as they have to invent their own health intervention. Katy admits that marking exams scripts are not as fun, and that generally academics in the field feel they don’t get enough time to do their own research as they have a lot of general admin work at times.

I often worry whether I put enough time into my own studies, so I was interested to see how many hours a week Katy works. Katy replied that the hours she works varies, and it really depends on what deadlines she has that week. Some weeks Katy would work evenings and weekends, if she is trying to meet a particular deadline. There will be other weeks where, maybe it is not so intense and therefore she can work more flexibly.

As I have interviewed a few academics now, naturally I was beginning to wonder if there are common similarities between them in their success in the academic field. I asked Katy for her opinion and she revealed that people who go into academia have a high interest in what they study, and therefore it is not just a 9 to 5 job, it is something they really enjoy doing. She also mentioned that a lot of academics like the freedom to work in what they are interested ini

“I’d say academics don’t tend to like being told what to do very much. I guess it attracts people who like to organise things how they want to.”

Katy’s advice to students:

“My advice would be to read a lot. Something that would definitely improve a student’s writing is to read as they possibly can and I think that would then come out in their writing. Also, try to study things that you enjoy, and perhaps even if it is something that you don’t enjoy so much – try and find something about it that you can relate to your own life. Everyone does so much better if they study something they are interested in and enjoying.”

What is your favourite clothing shop? Hush

Beach Holiday or a city break? Beach holiday, although I do love cities.

Favourite movie genre? Real historical events but dramatized. For example: “Fair Game” and “The insider”.

Written by Dionne St Rose

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