Sneha Salel is a Master’s Psychology Student who took on a three-month summer placement at DECIPHer
I have always had a keen interest in people, their behaviours, and understanding why they do the things that they do. I picked up Psychology in high school and completed my Bachelors in Psychology, Communications and English Literature. I am currently a student on the MSc Psychology course at Cardiff University. While I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in psychology, I was unsure about what kind of role I would want to work in. The course I am currently doing is very research intensive, which was when I realised I enjoyed research and wanted to further explore it! I secured a three-month summer placement at DECIPHer as the work they did aligned with my interests.
Dr. Jemma Hawkins was my supervisor. She ensured I had a warm welcome and introduced me to the staff at DECIPHer. Jai, another student from my course, was also doing a placement there and having each other around helped us settle in pretty quick. I was primarily working on the Healthy Working Wales project with Jemma, Dr. Kelly Morgan and Dr. Sara Long. I also expressed that I would like to work on multiple projects to further develop different skills. Jemma put me in touch with staff on other projects, after which I got to work on the reports from the recent School Health Research Network survey in primary schools and help with literature searches for a publication from another project. I attended the monthly DECIPHer Forum where researchers presented their work. This gave me an insight into how they go about conducting research.
‘The Spark building was a great place to work at and it helped me be even more productive. Networking was encouraged and I met a bunch of new people with similar interests.‘
I also got to help Sara facilitate a training course for Healthy Schools Coordinators. I was impressed by the range of work that was being done at DECIPHer. While I was able to work on things I have always been interested in, I also got to pick up new skills, for example in qualitative research. We had limited seminars and projects on qualitative research on my course, and before my placement I was quite apprehensive about it. However, Jemma gave me the opportunity to work on projects with qualitative research and I enjoyed it!
It was a great experience being in a work environment surrounded by other researchers, who were very friendly and always open to answer any question I had throughout my placement. The Sbarc | Spark building was a great place to work at and it helped me be even more productive. Networking was encouraged and I met a bunch of new people with similar interests.
I also had the opportunity to meet other placement students working at different research centres within Spark. It was interesting to speak to people in different fields, and one of the centres held an interdisciplinary challenge, which was an event where we got to work together. It was hard for me to come out of my shell as I was new to the UK and I usually take some time to be comfortable, but DECIPHer helped accelerate that process, which has had an impact not only on my professional life, but my personal life as well.
I should mention that Jemma was a great supervisor! She created a safe space for me, was always in touch and had weekly meetings with me, kept me accountable and motivated me to do the work that I did. Overall, I have learnt so much from my time with DECIPHer and I have so many great memories I will forever cherish.
A month has passed since I completed my placement and on reflection, I am feeling so much gratitude for the opportunity I had to work with DECIPHer. I am now confident in my decision to work in research, and I am currently working as a Research Assistant in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. I highly recommend doing a placement at DECIPHer.