Double, Double, Toil and Trouble - Combining Two Placements

Posted in: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements

Before I even fully start this post let me set two things out. 1) I am very aware that this is a strange and unusual position to be in, simultaneously having two placements. I am amazingly grateful for the range of experience and opportunities it is affording me, and I can't at all guarantee that anyone else will ever have this same placement. 2) Yes Lady Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare heroine.


Getting onto a placement is hard. Even if you've previously gone through the whole rigmarole of applying for jobs, waiting for interviews, sweating your way through them, and then waiting for that all telling email - placement applications are different. You are told that you must write a stellar CV, that your cover letter must be run over and and over until perfect, your interviewer could hit you with any question they'd like no matter how much or little experience you have in these things (if I was a vegetable, I'd be broccoli fyi), and then you must also always accept your first placement offer. Phew. Take a deep breath. How did we get here ?

I'd be lying if getting into a double placement was planned, it was a total fluke. I had already had an interview for the CFR and was currently making up a short PowerPoint about HIFAMS to try to get through, when I had my interview for the Babylab. A bit into the interview, I was asked a question along the line of why I wanted to apply and I just gushed. I think kids are really neat, I'm really interested in accessibility of education, I have a cool yet niche interest in executive dysfunction as a transdiagnostic symptom and how it is handled in schools dependent on whichever condition it is related to I- I pause for air and I've clearly impressed Dr. D'Souza for having a keen idea of what I am interested in. I am also incredibly nervous. The rest of the interview passes without issue (that I can remember at least!), and I am virtually sat with a current student to ask questions. I got my offer to have my placement there before I have even finished asking her any questions. Flash forward a week or two, and I am bracing against the cold winds walking back from a seasonal job when I try to call back Dr D'Souza. With a scrambled signal due to the weather, I hear barely a thing. She sends an email, and I find out I am being split between the Babylab and the CFR. If I'd like that. I do, and I accept.

old sepia drawing of a family searching for something in bushes. circling text says 'centre for family research'

I spend most of my physical time at the CFR, thanks to bigger floorspace and higher ceilings, COVID regulations weren't as strict when we first came in September and I even have my own desk and desktop to work on. It is easy to get around here, and I have all the resources I need at my fingertips - from a massive printer-copier (the same model we have in the Library at Bath!) to cupboard at the end of my desk I meticulously labelled and cleaned - thanks for the templates Canva. Here, I am primarily affiliated to the Ready or Not study, which focuses on the experiences of children's transition to school (and not the vaccine, as one Facebook comment said). I spend time coding from transcripts, managing social media, and getting elbow deep in recruitment - calling parents, sending packs, and live coding calls.

Old drawing of children with the words 'cambridge babylab' on the lower right

Just how the CFR has room to spare, the Babylab does not. At the time of writing, I am only testing now and again, mainly doing shadowing in order to ensure I know what I am doing by the time I take over when two placement students leave in March after starting so early last summer. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time recruiting for LENA, posting them out, and handling all the data when they get back. The LENAs are adorable little devices about the same size as your card reader from the bank which record the child's language environment and spit out numbers to us at the other end. I also adore the journal clubs, often hosted online or basking in the sun that streams into the rooms at Newnham College, whereby someone chooses (or is given!) a paper and needs to essentially break it down and criticise it. It may not sound all too fun, but it is an amazing thing to see how people process what is written down in front of them.


Splitting time between the two has proven to be a feat, and while I started with day allocation at the start, sometimes you simply need more time at one place than the other. As I start getting more into testing at the Babylab, I feel I might have to shamefully shimmy back to this system - but only time will tell.

Posted in: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements


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