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The University of Southampton

Dulcie Wyatt BSc Psychology, 2015

Research Officer, Office for National Statistics

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Hi, my name is Dulcie Wyatt and I studied BSc Psychology within Psychology at the University of Southampton.

My Psychology degree really equipped me with the skills I need for my role with the Office for National Statistics; you have to have a degree with a formal statistical component, and the BSc Psychology satisfies that requirement.

What did you enjoy about your time at Southampton?

Throughout my degree, there was so much on offer, not only in terms of subject topics and modules, but also the equipment and the fact that we were taught by leading researchers in their fields. My final-year dissertation involved using the eye-tracking equipment, which was a fantastic and exciting opportunity. I also opted to learn Spanish during my final year, which I thoroughly enjoyed; not only was it fun, but it was a great way to broaden my skills, and add variety into my weekly timetable.

I was also involved in Jazzmanix, the student-run pop and gospel choir. I really enjoyed the weekly rehearsals, performing in concerts, and travelling to a different country each year for the annual tour – a highlight was singing on stage at Disneyland on our tour to Paris! In my final year I was elected as secretary to the committee - it was great to take an even more hands-on role in a society that made my time at Southampton so much fun.

What does your graduate role involve?

I work within the Population Statistics Research Unit, which is part of the Population Statistics Division of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). My job involves researching, evaluating and helping to improve ONS population estimates.

It’s a fantastic place to work, with such a variety of different opportunities – I’m a huge advocate for ONS and would encourage anyone who is thinking about what to do after University to apply.

How did your degree help you to gain your graduate role? 

Although it doesn’t sound directly related, my Psychology degree really equipped me with the skills I need; for this role you have to have a degree with a formal statistical component, and the BSc Psychology satisfies that requirement. So, without my degree, I wouldn’t have been successful in my application for the job.

When I started at university I didn’t think I’d end up working with the statistical element of the degree, but I’ve really come to love it. It’s a good feeling to gain confidence and expertise in something you didn’t think you would ever see yourself pursuing.

What projects have you worked on to date?

I’m currently working on a project looking at how to improve our methodology for estimating internal migration within England and Wales at local authority level. It’s a really exciting project that will have a big impact on the way we produce population statistics, and will ultimately inform the way resources are allocated to public services at local level.

My first project involved evaluating the accuracy of the division’s population estimates at local authority level and below. These estimates are used to inform local policy and local authority funding decisions; the aim of the evaluation was to provide an objective measure of their accuracy. I learned how to use statistical coding software to analyse the data. My report was published on the ONS website within my first two months here, which was very satisfying.

The ONS’s work is monitored and evaluated by the UK Statistics Authority, which sets out the necessary principles and practices in order for our estimates to be designated as ‘National Statistics’ so that users know they are trustworthy, high quality and of public value. My second piece of work here was a report for the UK Statistics Authority comparing the different methodologies used by the devolved administrations of the UK, in order to identify differences and assess whether they were justifiable.

Do you have any additional roles in the workplace?

I sit on the staff engagement team, which ensures that: any changes within the division are communicated effectively, staff are able to feed back, and everyone is engaged and involved. It’s been a really good way to get to know other members of staff and integrate with everyone in the division.

Why is volunteering important to you?

My interest in understanding people was behind my decision to study Psychology and also drives my passion for volunteering. I like the fact that what I do at ONS is socially important, but it makes a difference in quite an indirect way. Through volunteering I can have a more tangible impact.

I’m lucky that I have flexi-time at work, which means I can make time for volunteering. I volunteer with Hampshire County Council Children’s Services, as a mentor to a young person on the edge of care. As one strand of a range of support that social services has put in place, I meet with her weekly to be a consistent, impartial and reliable influence, discussing and listening to whatever she wants to share with me. I’m also trained in family support and in doing interviews with young people who have returned having gone missing from care.

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