Graduate profile

Hannah Oldham

Hannah, a primary school teacher in Hampshire, shares her Surrey experience. 

Graduation year

What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?

I really wanted to come to Surrey because of the chance to spend a year in industry. Once I visited the campus, it was a dead cert; the grounds are beautiful, everything you need is on the main campus, which is ideal. The Psychology degree is absolutely spot on - so much variation yet a decent degree of richness.

What is your strongest memory of your time at Surrey - what do you picture first when you think of being here?

My final year was without a doubt the best year of my time at Surrey. Working for my placement year really changed me. I was more focused and more grown up. I enjoyed throwing myself into the study and being so much more independent. My stand-out memory is the heavy snowfalls blanketing the campus, followed by the visit to the cathedral by the Queen!

What were the best things about your course?

I loved being able to indulge in so much curiosity. I wanted to go down an education route yet I also loved neuroscience. Often you would have to choose between these, but I had the opportunity to study both. The staff are clearly very knowledgeable in their fields and did their utmost to keep lectures engaging and interesting.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?

I have just embarked on my fourth year in Primary school teaching in an outstanding junior school in Hampshire. I have taught year 6 and, more recently, year 3. Every day is so varied, often utterly hilarious, plus it is surprising in a way just how much a Psychology degree was a perfect degree to undertake before postgraduate teacher training. Things surprise me every day, for example last week, the year 5s helped me to rescue a young and undersized hedgehog which we then took to a rescue centre. We are sharing updates on its progress!

How did you decide what career to go into? How did your time at Surrey help you to decide?

I took part in the Tutoring and Mentoring scheme, working a morning a week in a local infant school. This sparked intrigue into the education system, coupled with the cognitive and developmental facets of psychology. I undertook my placement year at an Educational Psychology service, helping me to realise that I wanted to be in the classroom rather that popping in and out, consulting.

If you completed a Professional Training Year/Placement, can you tell us how this impacted upon your ability to get a graduate job?

My experience during my placement year definitely boosted my chances of being accepted onto the coveted PGCE course at Winchester University, as I had built a wealth of experience of spending time in a variety of schools.

What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important or of most interest to you and why?

I love to see how the university and the field of psychology is developing. Plus, if I can assist or encourage somebody to consider primary teaching as a career, I will certainly try!

What are your top tips for students aspiring to work in your profession?

Experience helps loads. Take the placement year; it was an invaluable opportunity. Get yourself out there, volunteer, try as many different things as possible.

Learn more about our degrees in the field of psychology.

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