Claire Harries graduated from Exeter in 2016 with an MSc in Psychological Research Methods. She’s currently a Recruitment Advisor with Exeter-based recruitment agency Cathedral Appointments She talked to us about how her MSc shaped her career path.
What academic skills did you get from your time at Exeter, and how do they transfer to the workplace?
Although the competing academic, clinical, social, and extra-curricular activities that the course demanded allowed me to develop a skill-set directly applicable to the field of psychological practice and research, these skills have also been highly transferable within professional business environments. In particular, the skills developed through working collaboratively on multiple projects with other students, academics, organisations, and businesses, alongside the skills I developed within data management and analysis have been particularly valuable. My primary role requires me to analyse business and person-specific information and data quickly and accurately, and to apply the information in a structured way by simultaneously understanding business, client, and candidate requirements. The emphasis that my Master’s placed on developing accurate and creative analytical and problem-solving skills has equipped me well to manage these competing and fast-paced demands. Further, managing competing demands throughout the Master’s has equipped me to manage, prioritise, and organise my workload well. The Master’s also helped me to develop strong verbal and written communication skills that have been invaluable.
“The skills I developed through working collaboratively on multiple projects with other students, academics, and organisations have been particularly valuable.”
How did you get into your current role?
I had been studying psychology at University level for 5 years. A large part of my MSc was spent analysing numerical data: something that I did not specifically want to pursue. However, I loved the aspect of critical thinking required within psychology: discovering differences in personalities or organisational designs, and resolving them. I approached an Exeter-based recruitment agency in search of work. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I did know that I wanted to work with people, to utilise my analytical skills, and to be able to solve problems effectively and creatively. I met with a consultant who throughout the interview was quickly gathering and understanding information about my skills, preferences, and work experiences, while simultaneously applying it to jobs on her caseload. I found the process of understanding, analysing, and applying information about people exciting, and I expressed this within the interview. The consultant asked if I would be interested in joining their team: I started the following Monday!
What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is to source candidates for the latest vacancies our company has. Integral to my role is to understand the requirements of a job and finding the right person to fill those requirements. An ability to understand and communicate well with people and businesses is key. It’s all about building relationships – not only with candidates, but with clients too. On a day-to-day basis, I am required to analyse and understand job specifications, write creative and appealing job adverts, advertise jobs, and then use a variety of different resources and databases to find the right candidate for the advertised roles.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
An important transition has been to adopt a more business-focused lens through which I view decisions, challenges, and negotiations. My MSc taught me to view situations and challenges through a person-cantered lens: focusing on how organisations, research, and clinicians can specifically help the individual. My new role requires me to respond and manage the specific needs and expectations of businesses while also meeting the needs of individual candidates. This new environment has required me to shift the way in which I view situations and make decisions. While this has been the biggest challenge in my new role, I have capitalised on the critical thinking skills developed through my MSc to transfer to these situations. In particular, throughout my MSc I spent a considerable amount of time examining how different psychological treatments work for different individuals and disorders, why they work, and when they work. I have utilised this mindset of thinking about the demands of my role that require immediate attention, for whom, and when, within my new role to help with my transition to developing a more business-focused lens.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to current students and recent graduates?
Don’t fear expressing your ideas. As young people with creative and analytical minds we should take responsibility for driving change, facilitating service delivery, transforming practice, and redesigning and building leadership when change is needed. Take responsibility for your abilities and ideas and apply them.
What’s the best thing about your time at Exeter Uni?
Something that will always stay with me is the confidence I developed to express my own ideas and confidence to drive change… Although it would be too easy to say Camper Coffee!
Claire is happy to hear from current Exeter students and recent graduates. You can email her at