Student Profile: Dawn Chai

We asked Dawn Chai, Psychology with a Placement Year student about her student experiences at Kent as a final year Psychology student.


What made you choose to study Psychology at Kent?

I really liked how Kent allowed us to pick ‘wild’ modules in first year, which not all Universities offered. This was important to me because I wanted to take more business modules (you can read Dawn’s blog here). I know other people took wild modules in foreign languages, sociology, and criminology to state a few.

I also really liked how Kent has a big international student population, which is important to me as an international student myself! I loved how there were so many interesting societies to get involved in. I also liked how Kent offered a placement year option you can apply for before admission, but also during your first year if you decide to change your mind. Being just an hour away to London was another factor that drew me in. 

Kent had really generous scholarship schemes for applicants, and I am fortunate to be granted the Kent Academic Excellence Scholarship and Kent International Scholarship throughout my studies.

Can you give some insight into your placement year?

Yes, of course! I did my placement as a Cognitive Research Assistant with Dr Amir-Hamayoun Javadi from 2020-2021. Due to COVID, this placement was taken remotely. Despite that, I still gained valuable skills for employability. I conducted my research project based on an experiment I assisted with. It was an experiment about how individuals perceive tension during electronic dance music (EDM) passages.

The data collection had to be done virtually- which had some challenges and benefits in itself! I also partook in writing two systematic reviews: one related to the cognitive benefits of aerobic exercise amongst children and adolescents, and another on improving the efficacy and adherence of mental health mobile phone apps.

I noticed that because of this research placement, I felt more confident administering and designing my final year project and completed my all my assignments more efficiently. 

Tell us a bit about your final year project (FYP)!

My final year project investigated the effectiveness of body-ideal vs. body-positive influencer marketing on purchase intention, as well as their effects on individuals’ benign envy. I wanted to tailor my FYP to marketing due to my interest and career aspiration, and I’m grateful for Amir’s openness and flexibility. We conceptualised and designed the research study from scratch, and I was responsible for every aspect of the project.

Using Instagram influencer marketing content, we found that benign envy significantly predicts purchase intention, rather than body-ideal vs. body-positive influencer. The FYP significantly expanded on my past SPSS and Excel data analysis skills acquired from my placement!

What aspects of the course did you enjoy most?

Asides from my placement year and FYP, I really enjoyed the Research Experience Scheme (RES) in second year. Working alongside another student and Professor Kathleen M Quinlan,  I assisted with data collection for a qualitative study about factors that influence University students’ decisions to study Psychology and Biology at University, and how University further shapes their future career aspirations. I was trained in semi-structured qualitative interviews for this, and gained experience in coding qualitative responses and formatting data for research purposes. This experience definitely gave me a head-start in data analysis and research, which is super valuable to me.

RES also offered multiple research opportunities in other fields like cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, and social psychology- I definitely recommend every single student to apply for the RES!

What was your favourite module?

Asides from the RES, I want to add that the Kent Psychology staff are always so supportive, approachable, and passionate about their fields. They are always happy to help and clarify questions about content/coursework, and some also offer additional drop-in hours and resources to support us! I particularly enjoyed the Groups In Action module in my final year. Dr Tim Hopthrow and Dr Dawn Nicholson structured and taught the module in really engaging ways that are relevant to current topics in society right now. The coursework tasks were shaped to give some insight into possible situations we would encounter in our future workplaces (e.g. recommending interventions), which I really appreciated.

Did you stay in student accommodation? What was it like?

I stayed at Keynes Flats in my first year. I liked being close to lectures (they’re all in Keynes) as well as the main bus stop. I recommend all first years to live on campus to get familiar with other facilities on Campus, it makes meeting other people easier too! There are many accommodation options for your budget and needs (e.g. ensuite vs. shared toilets, catered vs. part-catered etc.). 

What are your future plans after graduation?
I have accepted an offer from Imperial College London for their Strategic Marketing MSc programme this September. I also accepted a two-week marketing work experience with I Do Marketing Ltd. under the employability scheme to gain more marketing experience prior to starting my MSc. My future career goal is to be a marketing consultant/manager at a reputable marketing agency in the UK!
Any advice for those thinking of coming to Kent?

When it comes to picking Universities, have a look at their website and social media profiles to get a feel of what being a student is like there. Read their student and alumni profiles, and talk to current/past students if possible (through LinkedIn or similar!).

For personal statements, I recommend conveying your passion and interest for Psychology, as well as any current experiences/skills you possess that is relevant to succeeding as a Psychology student.

Once you’re at Uni, sign up for societies that interest you, make the most of the Uni’s careers and employability service, and engage as much as you can with the events and schemes the School of Psychology offers!

I am privileged to have been a student ambassador and digital media ambassador for the School of Psychology for the past few years. Helping others navigate through their university application journey by sharing my positive experiences as an international student has been highly enjoyable for me.

Is there anything you would like to share about your time at Kent?

My time as Kent has been amazing. From being a Stage 1 and 2 Psychology student rep, ambassadorial roles, and career workshops and 1:1 sessions, I definitely have progressed immensely professionally. Pushing myself to pursue things that interested me such as Model United Nations and Pole Fitness has also allowed me to develop personally into a more risk-taking and adventurous person.

Find out more about a Psychology with a Placement Year BSc at the University of Kent.