Learning to learn (again)

Posted by Kathryn Walker

A bit about me

I don’t believe in doing things by halves. This year I’ve changed jobs, got a dog, planned a wedding, and in July I went back to school. 

I have an undergrad degree in Psychology & Employment Relations and an honours degree in Management. While a career in psychology has always been of interest, I was daunted at the age of 21 by the idea of doing a post-grad, masters, and diploma, which would take an additional 4 – 5 years of full-time study. 

Now in my (earlyish) 30s I’ve been reflecting on my life and career and asking myself what was next. It feels right to return to my passion and pursue further study in psychology, which may also have benefits for me at work... 


The next step

The next step was figuring out what sort of psychology I wanted to study and where. I decided pretty quickly that Industrial Organisation or ‘I-O psychology’ was the right path for me. 

I-O psychologists are experts in human behaviour in the workplace and as my career to date has focused on finding the right people for different businesses, so this felt like it was a good match. I knew I wanted to continue working full-time, so I looked for part-time study options. 

A shameless plug here for Massey University. The course coordinator, Lisa, who I spoke to was absolutely awesome – encouraging, supportive and clear on the requirements. So I enrolled in my very first post-grad paper – Psychological Wellbeing in Organisations. 


Back to the books 

Returning to study after 10 years was quite nerve-wracking. The first thing I had to do was learn how to study again. It sounds crazy but the ability to absorb information, analyse, and interpret readings on everything from the psychobiology of stress to the role of positive emotions in positive psychology, was something I’d lost! 

The stuff that I was reading was super interesting, but it was also draining working a full day and then going home and hitting the books for a couple of hours. It was also isolating to go from regularly seeing friends to always either having to be at home or work – hence getting the dog to keep me company! 

Putting the challenges to one side, there have been some incredibly rewarding things which make me feel like I’ve made the right decision. I feel smarter, more clued up and I’m more confidently consulting with clients with strong evidence to back me up. 

At Sprout, we offer things like psychometric testing, employee engagement and clarity workshops, all of which I’ve been able to apply my learnings too, which has benefitted me and growing business owners. 


My advice 

My advice to both business owners and employees would be to continue embracing learning. Full-time work and everything else life throws at you can make it seem like a daunting proposition, but the rewards outweigh the hard yards. 

For individuals, learning opens up parts of your brain you may have forgotten you had! For business owners, you’ll find you have a more engaged, confident and motivated workforce. 

In a nutshell, learning is an extremely positive thing. 


So what next…

I’m really lucky to have the support of my family, friends, and partner who are all cheering me on from the sidelines, and of course the team at Sprout who have been so flexible and encouraging.

Going back to study isn’t an easy decision to make, but with the right support around you, it’s a rewarding one. Looking at my papers for next semester, I’m already excited and determined to continue towards my goal of qualifying as an I-O psychologist, while continuing to deliver relevant and related work with Sprout.

Kathryn is based in our Auckland Central Hub, it makes sense that she is continuing her study as she has a curious mindset!  If you would like to learn more about the work Kathryn is doing to apply her learnings at Sprout you can reach her on kathryn@sproutnz.com.



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