Part 4: Catherine Chen’s Post Graduation Journey–What life is like!

Graduation ceremony

Recent weeks have been eventful for me, marked by attending the graduation ceremony and celebrating this significant milestone with loved ones. Around the same time, after several months of exploring opportunities in the non-profit sector, I was fortunate enough to secure a position as a Counsellor within the Gambler’s Help Program at a community health organisation. I thought it would be helpful to share my experience and the critical factors I believe contributed to landing this role. 

  • Know my strengths and interests  

The Master of Counselling that I completed over two years has been incredibly beneficial in enabling me to explore my passion and strengths, both in the classroom and during practical placements. It equipped me with essential knowledge about the counselling profession, which was particularly valuable as I came from a finance background rather than pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Apart from my interest in counselling for trauma and grief, I found addiction counselling to be particularly fascinating while studying. Although grades do not reveal the whole story, my best unit score was in addiction counselling, and I remember being genuinely interested in learning more about this field. I was particularly amazed by the neurobiology of addiction and the use of motivational enhancement therapy, particularly the technique of motivational interviewing. This interest has kept me open to job opportunities in addiction counselling. 

  • Keep my professional connections and reach out  

When preparing for the interview, I contacted my postgraduate counselling course chair for further insights, knowing that problem gambling is one of his areas of expertise and research interest. He generously gave me a brief overview of the topic’s history, current statistics, and key research findings. Thanks to my course chair’s invaluable guidance, I gained a deeper understanding of problem gambling and its effects. With this knowledge, I felt more confident and prepared for my interview. Additionally, I spoke to a former classmate who works as a Counsellor at Gambler’s Help in a different community organisation to discuss her experience in the role. She also became one of my references and spoke about my strengths, which backed up what I mentioned in the interview, which the employer highlighted when offering me the position. 

  • Highlight my strengths in the interview  

Apart from answering the typical interview questions, I emphasised my eagerness to learn and active community engagement. These qualities have been developed through experiences beyond formal placements, including some unrelated to counselling. I also highlighted my values and how they align with those of the organisation and team, which was well received. Despite my limited practical experience in gambling addiction counselling, the organisation has shown a willingness to support my development. This sentiment has been echoed by others who have navigated similar career transitions or pursued direct entry into master’s programmes following their bachelor’s degrees. 

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