Congratulations! You’ve decided to study psychology. Exploring which learning path to pick can be pretty daunting, though – right? With so many awesome institutions out there, which one should you choose?
Academic curriculums are important. Developing skills to put what you’ve learnt into practise are critical, too. All the knowledge in the world won’t nurture your performance in the work place. Unless you’ve honed the skills to apply it, that is.
Fortunately, SACAP has an excellent track record in offering students real-world, applied psychology experience. In fact, practical Work Integrated Learning (WIL) modules are essential components in most of SACAP’s qualifications.
What is work-integrated learning? Why is it so important? And how can it benefit your psychology journey? We asked Bachelor of Applied Social Science graduates Zelna Faurie, 44, and Dané Snyman, 26, to weigh in…
Zelna is currently studying for her Bachelor of Social Science Honours (Psychology) at SACAP’s Pretoria campus. Dané is saving up to do her honours next year.
During their Bachelor of Applied Social Science studies in 2020, the pair joined forces to fulfil their WIL module requirements. They chose to work with the Angel Wings Care Centre in Johannesburg. “It’s an NPC that provides underprivileged individuals with food, clothing, accommodation and employment,” Dané explains.
Zelna and Dané led a group of eight student volunteers in an initiative called the Angel Wings Project. “It was an opportunity to use the knowledge we’d learned throughout our degree in a real-world South African context,” Zelna says.
At the outset of the project they visited the care centre and spoke with community members to ascertain their needs, Dané says. “We realised that many of the children were unable to attend school and some struggled academically but could not afford extra help.”
“Our group focused on community upliftment and empowerment,” Zelna notes. “To mitigate the negative impact of poverty on the children’s wellbeing we developed a life-course theory with a biopsychosocial approach.”
To do this the team assessed the environment, family context and community relationships. “We determined a need for a homework facility for the children to do their homework in the afternoons,” Zelna says.
“Our project plan was to build a classroom. A safe space for the kids that would also encourage them to learn and help each other,” says Dané.
The Angel Wings crew sought out three different sponsors to achieve this goal. “Egoli Traffic Signals donated a moveable contractor’s site office and converted it into a classroom,” Zelna says. “PD Nixon Containers transported and installed the structure, and Elect Assure SA (Pty) Ltd donated paint.”
“We received R15, 000 in donated funds, too” Zelna adds. “This money was used to obtain the necessary décor, cleaning and educational supplies – stationery, etc. – for the project.”
The team connected with different groups and individuals to execute their plan. “We built relationships with lots of caring people. Community members, organisation directors, employees, volunteer students and members of non-profit organisations,” Zelna says.
“We received so many donations!” Dané exclaims. “And we were able to provide the kids with much more than we anticipated. Beyond classroom necessities each child received their own school bag with clothes and toiletries.”
“What’s more,” Dané continues, “another NPC called A Way Out contacted us and donated food and clothing to the broader Angel Wings community.”
Benefits to bank
Zelna feels her WIL experience on the project has informed her psychology journey enormously.
“I used to think it was impossible to make a difference. Especially in relation to the vast number of vulnerable communities in our country,” she says. “However, I’ve learned that making a small change on one level causes a ripple effect that results in a positive change on another.”
For Dané, learning about the ethical side of psychology first-hand has been hugely beneficial, she says.
“A number of steps had to be taken before and during our interaction with the children, for example. Our supervisor taught us how to set practical boundaries and instilled ways to work effectively with our peers. She made me aware of triggers I might come across on my psychology path and how to effectively handle them in the future.”
Practice makes perfect
Both Zelna and Dané attest to the value of practising skills in a real-world environment before graduating.
“My WIL experience really broadened my knowledge of what it truly means to help others,” says Dané who hopes to pursue her dream of becoming a neuropsychologist one day.
Fortified by the techniques she’s honed, Zelna believes she’s becoming a confident psychosocial worker. “I’ve opened a private counselling practice in Benoni,” she says. “I’m also in the process of opening another counselling centre with other counsellors in Pretoria.”
As you can tell from the success of Zelna and Dané’s stories, SACAP’s unique approach to WIL was an essential element of their training and development. Want to gain valuable practical experience before you graduate, too?
SACAP has a nationwide network of placement sites that cover a diverse range of environments. You too can gain invaluable practical experience, network with industry professionals and enjoy the support of an expert supervisor.
Want to sign up?
Hurry! SACAP course applications are now open. Don’t miss the opportunity to enrol – a SACAP programme might be just the catalyst to kick start your career. Keen to know more? Email email@example.com, call 0860 77 11 11 or learn about SACAP courses here.