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Psychology or social work degree for humanitarian work?

March 21, 2018

Q. Hi Nick,
I just came across your webpage and read every bit of it! Thanks very much for sharing your experiences and setting up this page it’s a massive inspiration. I’m also very passionate about humanitarian work and would love to gain some experience. I’m nearly done with my undergraduate degree in psychology and was wondering whether there are any chances to use my degree for helping others in developing countries.

So far I‘ve looked at organizations that mainly look for medical staff but have you got any tips where I could apply to? Or as for an internship? Sometimes I feel a background in social work would have been far better. If you have any advice this would be highly appreciated!

Sarah

A. Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the kind words Sarah, sorry to take a while to respond to this! I actually have a degree in psychology, for what it’s worth, and I have a couple of observations about it. First of all, no one has ever asked me about it in a professional context. I have never had an interviewer ask about my degree, and while I don’t know for sure that I have not been declined for jobs over it, no one has ever told me that. So I’m going to give you my usual advice – unless your work requires it (finance, medicine, engineering, HR etc) I don’t think your degree matters much. (I’m assuming that you are not wanting to work as a clinical psychologist).

That said, I actually do use many of the skills I learned through psychology on a daily basis. Understanding the scientific method and statistics as they are applied in the social sciences is tremendously useful in monitoring and evaluation, and a lot of the concepts that come up in psychology are useful in understanding human behavior.

I would definitely encourage you to seek out internships, and as much volunteer experience as you can.

Good luck!

Nick

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