A day in the life: Psychology lecturer

Dr Rebecca Owens joined Sunderland as a mature student – and never left

How long have you been in your job?

I have been a full-time lecturer for four years and before that I taught alongside doing my part-time PhD for seven years.

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Knowing how much I have to do! I really enjoy feeling productive and proactive so I like to be able to tick things off my list and have something to show for it.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into work?

With work being at home now, I typically start my day with coffee, the school run, the gym, and then going through my emails.

Who are the two or three people you talk to on a daily basis?

Aside from my family (who actually just talk at me!), I talk to my wonderful colleagues Amy and Sophie most days.

What’s the best thing about your job?

My job can be relentless at times, always pushing me to do better and to do more, but every now and then I can see my work pay off. One time I saw an ex-student on a night out and she told me I got her through her degree when I was doing my PhD. Getting emails of appreciation from students. Things like that make it feel like it is all worth it.

And the worst?

When it feels relentless! Sometimes it feels like fire-fighting and like there is too much juggling of various things that I can’t see how I can keep up.

Your number one most vital prop/tool/piece of equipment?

If I have prepared, then I feel I can manage with whatever props or equipment I do or do not have.

How did you get into your job?

I started my undergraduate as a ‘mature student’ with two young children (I was only 21). I got divorced in my final year and I just knew that no matter what, I wanted to do a PhD. I didn’t know why and I wasn’t really planning too far into the future, but I knew I wanted to do it. I started my PhD straight after finishing my undergraduate degree and, luckily, they needed someone to help with some teaching on a casual basis. Essentially, I never left! My PhD sometimes felt like training to be a lecturer and I was very lucky to have the opportunities during that time that I did, for example, I got to develop teaching materials and I even achieved Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy through my experience.

What is it about your personality that makes you suitable for the role?

Probably that I am pragmatic, fair and friendly. I am very supportive of my colleagues and students. I am efficient and stubborn… apparently!

Which five words sum up your typical day?

Diverse, coffee, productive, organisation, diligence.

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be?

This is difficult! I had wanted to be a hairdresser when I was younger, and I trained in childcare before I started university. But I absolutely couldn’t manage either of those professions now!

Dr Rebecca Owens is a lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland

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