My Time as an Occupational Psychology Intern with Zircon

August 20th, 2013 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

I have been fascinated by psychology for many years and so thought it would be a perfect undergraduate course at university. I was familiar with clinical and experimental psychology but before these few weeks I knew little about other branches of the discipline such as occupational psychology. I met Dr Amanda Potter, the founder and Managing Director of Zircon, and she explained what occupational psychology was about and mentioned the internship her company offers. After researching Zircon further I decided the internship would be a perfect opportunity to understand what practical applications psychology could have in a corporate environment. This I believed initially to have been through increasing productivity by looking at the most unproductive sectors of a firm and developing them, whereas by researching Zircon I learnt that it was in practice by talent management, helping corporations attract, develop, promote and retain employees to maximize the business objectives. From the very first glance at Zircon I was developing my knowledge.

I was invited for a telephone interview with Sarah Linton and although very nervous, I was also excited. To my surprise I was successful and invited for a second interview, after this I was contacted very quickly with the news of the success of my application. Zircon offered me a summer internship, and so eagerly accepted – before they changed their mind!

I arrived to a warm welcome and after a short introduction I began my first research task on ‘challenges faced by HR and Talent Directors’, I worked on this throughout my time with Zircon. It was for a new research paper they are producing, researching various topics relating to it such as the ‘MICRO and MACRO challenges facing HR and Talent Directors’ as well as assimilating data they collected from over 30 interviews of HR and Talent Directors. My initial research started by a quick internet search and I was then shown how to find the articles and papers from sections of the BPS and the Harvard Business Review. This has been my favourite project, especially as their last paper, ‘The Future of Talent Management’, was such a success in gaining them publicity and I wanted to live up to that standard.

I was soon given more tasks and was surprised with the quantity, diversity and importance of the work I had been entrusted with. Over the next couple of weeks I helped with creating questions templates for recruitment interviews designed specifically for companies and the levels of authority in the firm, proof read many documents and researched many topics, compiling the information I had found. These topics included ‘Influencing models’, looking at how people with little authority can influence others within a firm, ‘Psychometric tests for sales and HR’, ‘Team dynamics’ and ‘The differences between Generations in the work place’. This last one was very interesting, especially seeing how ‘Traditionalists’ (born 1925 – 1945) are motivated by self-worth but ‘Generation Y’ (born 1980 – 2000) are motivated by maintaining personal life.

One piece of research that I did on my third day was on ‘The differences between the Wilsher Group’s Colour and Insight Discovery’s colour assigning personality tests’. This research was very difficult as there was little information to find about one of the tests and so I used this to show how it was still developing as a tool, but I was complimented on the thoroughness of the work by the client which boosted my confidence immensely.

My experience with Zircon has been wonderful and I have really enjoyed it, in particular the feeling that the tasks I was doing really contributed to their work, the team is lovely, very welcoming and always helpful. During my time at Zircon I was lucky enough to have been offered more work experience for the next few summers which I am really looking forward to. I achieved everything I set out to with this internship with the bonus of being able to repeat this experience next year and I would like to thank Amanda and the team for this incredible opportunity.

Thank you!

Written by Lucy Elmer

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