US Postgraduate Testimonial Series: MA in Positive Psychology and Coaching

Name: Elyse Neubauer

Hometown: Newbury, VT, USA

Undergraduate Institution and Major: BA in Psychology at Bard College

Postgraduate Program at UCC (and focus if possible!): MA in Positive Psychology and Coaching (can be thought of as “life coaching”)

Career Aspirations: I’m not completely sure yet !! It could go in many different directions. One option is to become a psychological coach or consultant. This would mean I would provide a one-on-one service in which a client would get the opportunity to talk through their life goals and what could be getting in the way of those goals. Basically, I could set up a business where I help people find ways of becoming the best version of themselves. Ideally, I would have my own small coaching service along with a part time psychology-based job ( such as in research administration).

What about this postgraduate experience has been the most rewarding and/or eye-opening for you thus far? I really appreciate the opportunity to strengthen my independent learning skills. Being expected to create my own college structure (in service of completing assignments and the dissertation) and to decide what materials are most important to read has increased my confidence in these skills and I think that confidence will help me in later life. I have also been taught many mindfulness/meditation skills and wellness-boosting positive psychology interventions in class. They are very helpful both personally and professionally.

What about this postgraduate experience has been the most challenging for you thus far? How did you overcome or how are you working to overcome this challenge? The lack of incremental feedback on how I am grasping the material was very challenging. It is a different system than I am used to and I hadn’t realized how much I had previously relied on feedback on early assignments to feel I am doing well in a class. Although it has increased my independent learning skills, I still find it frustrating at times. I will also add that the practice of having your class grade be based off of one or two assignments due at the very end of the semester made me pretty anxious, especially in the first semester. This was related to the lack of feedback. This combination makes it almost impossible to gauge how you are doing in a class (you have to be confident in your own grasp of the content).  I overcame this by leaning on my classmates (as well as friends and family) for support and working through everything in small steps. So far, it has worked! The sense of accomplishment at the end is huge.

Beyond your postgraduate experience, in what activities, clubs, societies, etc. are you involved? I am part of an Action for Happiness workshop that some of my classmates volunteered to participate in. It is an 8 week workshop designed to raise awareness about the importance of increasing happiness and wellbeing in society. Another classmate and I are currently scheduled to run a smaller version of this workshop with a retirement group at the end of April. 

If you could give future postgraduate students in your program one piece of advice, what would it be? Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the structure of classes and how assignments work. I assumed that the structure would be more similar to the USA and  I had some anxiety getting used to it .That being said- I have classmates and lecturers who are amazingly warm and supportive and being in the course feels like I am part of a community. If I were to do the year over again, I would have shared my anxieties with my classmates earlier than I did because the support I got from them has been lovely. And remember, the most rewarding journeys we take in life are not always the easiest. 


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