Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

How to make the most of "your careers service".

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Careers Service Update

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We are really looking forward to welcoming you at Bath. I understand amid all the excitement you may also have moments of being nervous about this stage of your life. I thought I would pen some hints and tips about how to make the most the careers service and what to expect.

  1. University careers support is different to what you may have experienced at school. You can make an appointment as soon as you arrive and you don't have to know what you want to do. Instead, we can help you clarify your thinking and most importantly we won't tell you what to do.
  2. Throughout Freshers week, our careers advisers will pop up during lectures or as part of formal induction talks. This way you'll know who they are and how to make contact.
  3. Your engagement with the careers service doesn't have to be face-to-face. We arrange loads of skills training events and talks. You will also be able to meet employers on campus.
  4. You can come and see us as often as you like! (even after you graduate).
  5. Its OK for your career thinking to change, just give yourself the time and space to consider different options. Don’t rely on student gossip about what to do when. Make sure that you have the time frames and application windows clear in your mind. Your careers adviser will know.

 

The Early career bird lands a job!

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📥  Advice, Applications, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs

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I can picture the scenario, you've had a super summer and it can be a bit of a drag getting back into academic studies. This is even harder if you're a finalist and returning from placement as adjusting from the freedom of work (and earning money) to being a student is tough. Fear not, you have 9 months after which the big wide world beckons. So, what can you do to harness the career early bird and bag yourself a job before you graduate? Some of the big graduate schemes are already open for business, so there’s no time to waste if you want to get ahead of the pack.

  1. Make a list: yep, that old chestnut! However, making a list of the key employers you are interested in by application deadline will help you plan and prioritise your applications. The Careers Service's MyFuture site along with GradDiary are really useful. You can search by company and sort by application deadline. Key is to make a start and actually apply, especially as many employers recruit on a rolling basis.
  2. Haste makes waste: before you rush off to start writing your applications, just pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a graduate recruiter.  Many employers will sift through thousands of applications - its a pretty monotonous task. Therefore they'll be looking for reasons to reject, not select, applicants and nearly all will carry out a rapid “first cut” to remove the worst offenders. Spelling, grammar and general attention to detail are key when writing applications.
  3. Get it checked: the best thing you can do is get a second opinion against your applications. A fresh pair of eyes will spot little mistakes that you didn't event notice. Simply, book a quick query with one of our careers advisers.
  4. Go to stuff: our employer team have been busy bees over the summer putting together an excellent programme of employer events. This includes a two-day careers fair, skills sessions and information presentations. Really worth attending as you'll pick up little tips and insights that will not only make your application stand out but will also help you articulate your motivation to future employers.
  5. Believe in yourself: Many of us watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon this year. He plainly believed in himself and his ability and was able to put his past disappointments to one side. The same personal confidence is essential to successful job hunting. If you don’t believe that you can do a good job, then you stand no chance of being able to convince an interview panel that this is the case!

 

What do research staff do next?

📥  Academic Career, Career Development, For PhDs, Uncategorized

I've just finished reading Vitae's newly-published report on where postdoctoral research staff go when they leave academia. The report is based on a largely qualitative survey of researchers' career paths and experiences on leaving academic research posts, and includes insights into how people made decisions around whether to leave and what to do next, how they adjusted to new cultures and environments, what they find satisfying about their new roles and what they miss about academia.

Now, as I've been reading the report I've been thinking constantly about how some of these ideas and data can input into my own thinking, workshops and the ways I support our research staff here at Bath. But, useful as this report is for people like me, the primary intended audience is the current postdoctoral research community, so I've also been asking myself the question, 'how can research staff use this report?'

Given that you probably don't have the time or inclination to wade through forty-nine pages, here are some quick thoughts as to how you can make use of this report:

  • scan through the sections on 'Making the transition' and 'Advice to other researchers' sections (pp.12-17). Read any sub sections that grab your attention. Notice the practical and emotional challenges people faced in moving into new roles and contexts and how they dealt with these.
  • gather some data and insights into roles and sectors you might want to explore further. There are short sections of the report with overviews of popular sectors with research staff, namely research outside of HE, research policy and administration, professional roles in HE, public engagement and science communication, teaching, writing and publishing, and 'other' occupations including business analysts, financial economists and patent attorneys.
  • look at sample job titles and possible employers within sectors of interest.
  • Check out the 'competencies old and new' section within each sector overview to get a sense of how researchers used their existing skills in a new context and which skills they needed to develop.
  • Read the mini case studies to find out how people find their new roles and what helped them make the transition.
  • Full case studies are available on the Vitae website.
  • Many of these case studies include a link to the person's LinkedIn profile. Use this to see where they have worked, what experience they built up, which groups they are part of (so you can join groups relevant to sectors of interest) and how you might be connected to them. See if you have any mutual connections and ask them to introduce you.
  • Have a think about how you can develop skills and knowledge within your current role
  • Research sectors and roles of interest further using our web pages for researchers, Bath Connection, and a one-to-one chat with the Researcher Career Development Adviser.

 

Investment banking - application deadlines

📥  Uncategorized

If you're interested in applying for graduate programmes or internships in investment banking for 2017 you'll need to take action quickly - most schemes close by October/ November, if not earlier. Efinancial Careers have just published a helpful list of application deadlines bank-by-bank:

http://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/careers-in-finance/223976/bank-by-bank-graduate-and-internship-application-deadlines-london-2015-2016

 

Returning to academia after a career break

📥  Academic Career, Diversity, For PhDs

I've been reading this research report by jobs.ac.uk on views around returning to academia after a career break. A welcome and fascinating report on a much-discussed but under-researched topic.

Key findings of the report include:

-89% of respondents who had taken a career break returned to an academic role
- 34% of respondents had taken more than one career break
- the main reasons for taking a career break are maternity leave and redundancy/reaching the end of a contract.
- People's perceptions of career breaks are much more negative prior to taking it.
- a long career break is more likely to result in someone returning to work part-time
- the majority of academics stayed in contact with people in their field during their career break.
- 39% returned to their former role
- 45% returned to work with a different employer

If you are currently taking a break from an academic or research career or are considering doing so, there are lots of schemes and organisations offering advice and support:

The University of Manchester have a list of fellowships and bursaries for people who have had career breaks, as well as a list of case studies. The Daphne Jackson Trust and the Dorothy Hodgkins Fellowship Scheme in particular offer opportunities for scientists to return from a career break and to work flexibly.

The Wellcome Trust have produced a guide to getting back into research after a career break.

The Royal Society have produced some excellent case studies of researchers who successfully combine academic careers with family life as part of their parent-carer-scientist campaign.

WISE have role models and career stories of women who have returned to science after a break.

 

How LinkedIn can help you find employers

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📥  Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Social Media, Tips & Hints

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We are going to shamelessly link to the University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog as they have done an excellent job, through three blog posts, in writing about how you can use LinkedIn to find relevant employers. Thank you Team Leeds!

"Whether you’re looking for experience, placements or a graduate job, it can sometimes be hard to identify potential relevant employers.  This is particularly so if you’re looking outside of the large multi-national organisations. Opportunities with other types of employers, or in other sectors, may not be as widely advertised, and many people actually find jobs and experience by pro-actively approaching employers of interest on a speculative basis. In this 3-part mini series, we’ll show you 3 easy ways you can leverage LinkedIn to identify potential employers of interest."

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find relevant employers: Part 1 - outlines how the advanced people search function can help you identify potential employers.

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find relevant employers: Part 2 - outlines how you can use the company search feature to identify employers by location and sector.

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find potential employers: Part 3 - shows how you can use two features of LinkedIn to help you find similar organisations to those you have already discovered.

 

 

Tips for transitioning out of academia

📥  Career Development, For PhDs

I've been reading this excellent post on the Research Whisperer about one postdoc's gradual transition into a non-research role (specifically science writing). Do read it for yourself, but it inspired some general thoughts about career transitions that I wanted to share with you:

  • Start small. As Ian's story shows, career transitions often happen in small steps. In his case that meant starting a blog (which I can testify is a highly satisfying and therapeutic thing to do, and becomes a lot less scary after a little practice). In your case a small step might be learning a new programming language (there are lots of online courses around which Ian also made use of), booking onto a training course, or arranging to shadow someone working in a field or role that interests you for a day or two.
  • Re-write the narrative. Ian mentioned an 'anxiety narrative' that kept playing in his mind when he was in the early stages of trying out science writing. From him the narrative was: 'Anyone could do this', other common negative stories I've heard people tell themselves (and me) regarding a possible change of career direction include: 'Isn't it too late to change direction?'; 'I don't have the necessary skills'; 'but that's really competitive isn't it?' If you hear yourself recounting a negative story that might be stopping you from working towards where you want to be, ask yourself whether the story can be reframed (i.e. you can get the skills you need) or whether you have all the facts or are basing your assumptions on narrow perspectives.
  • You may not have to leave everything behind. There may be aspects of your research skills and knowledge that you do want to use in a future career. 'Which aspects of now do you want to take into the future?' is question I ask often in 1:1 career conversations with researchers. In Ian's case he wanted to use the writing and problem-solving skills; in yours it might be data analysis, oral communication or budget management. Researchers gain a wide variety of skills that can be applied in various contexts. This lovely post from my colleague Clare Jones at the University of Nottingham explains how you can identify the skills you have and want to use in as little as ten minutes. If you have a little more time, draw yourself a timeline of a fixed period of your life (say the last five years) and map out the highlights and challenges. Are there any themes that emerge around what is important to you or when you have felt most satisfied?
  • Broaden your experience. This could be through getting involved in research-related activities such as organising a conference, helping at an Open Day or explaining your passion for your subject to a group of six year olds. Online courses, for example in programming languages, project management or science communication, can be a great way to boost your skills. For some sectors and roles it would be worth getting some short-term experience; speak to a careers adviser about how to identify suitable opportunities and employers.
  • Network online. An effective social media presence will help to raise your profile, develop your networks, keep up to date with developments potential target sectors, and even lead to experience or employment. In Ian's words: 'Most of the opportunities to expand my portfolio have come up organically through my presence on Twitter and connecting with people there.' For guidance take a look at the University's Social Media Toolkit and the Careers Service website.
  • Take opportunities when they come up. Say yes to everything and you may have your supervisor or research manager at your back; say no to everything and you may miss out on invaluable opportunities to develop your networks and skills portfolio, as well as have a refreshing break from your research project.
  • Identify your personal impact. Employers don't only look for people who can do the job; they also want people who are results-orientated and can make a positive contribution to their organisation. Reflect on your current and past experience not only in terms of duties and responsibilities but also in terms of achievements. What wouldn't happen if you weren't around? Be specific and quantify achievements wherever you can: how much money did you raise, what feedback did you receive from clients/students, what new initiative did you persuade your department to implement?
  • Build resilience. Career transitions can take time and may well involve disappointments along the way. Follow Ian's example and identify where you've made progress, surround yourself with a support network, stay flexible and just keep going.

So what next? To get some ideas of potential options outside of academia, take a look at our tailored web resources, look at some career stories of other researchers, and speak to a careers adviser.

 

Beyond the Lab: Developing your Industrial Biotechnology Career

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📥  Academic Career, Career Choice, Finding a Job, For PhDs, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints

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An interesting blog worth reading from the University of Bath's Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies:

Beyond the Lab: Developing your Industrial Biotechnology Career

 

 

The DFID Graduate Development Scheme closes 22nd June

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📥  Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

This has come to our notice rather late:

The DFID Graduate Development Scheme was launched in January 2012 to provide graduates with work experience to assist them in obtaining future employment. DFID is also keen to bring fresh thinking into the organisation. The scheme offers challenging and rewarding opportunities and a step into the international development sector and working in the Civil Service. We have 16 placements from across all areas of DFID.

Applicants should only choose one placement to apply for. We will not accept duplicate applications.

how to apply This link we tell you which opportunities are available
promotional leaflet (PDF, 6.4MB, 2 pages)
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 346KB, 9 pages)

Applications close on 22 June 2016 at 1pm.

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PhD Career Stories

📥  For PhDs, inspire, Sector Insight

The third of our career stories from researchers now working in non-research roles in Higher Education.

Dr Julian Rose - communication and collaboration

What do I do now?

In May 2015 I began a new role as the Network Manager for the EPSRC-funded Directed Assembly Network. In 2010, the Network was tasked with building an inter-disciplinary academic community and set about developing a strategic roadmap, looking towards tackling the grand challenges facing science over the next 50 years: depleting natural resources, antibiotic & drug resistance and an ageing population to name a few.

My role is to bring people together, to inspire and provoke new ideas, fostering new collaborations. I have designed and delivered strategies to both evolve and broaden the Network and overseen growth to nearly 1,000 members. At the heart of the Network lies regular community-engagement and as a major part of my role, I structure, facilitate and deliver meetings nationally to multi-disciplinary audiences. Day-to-day I manage and develop the communication strategy through events and digital & social media.

I promote the brand, vision and aims through regular engagement with industry, government and world-leading academics. I manage the quarterly Network funding awards, which are designed to support early career researchers towards developing their portfolio’s by providing funding for collaborative proof of concept projects. Many of these projects have led on to major Research Council UK (RCUK) grants and since the Network’s inception, £50 Million grants are linked to and/or supported by the Network.

What about right after my PhD?

I continued working in research as a Knowledge Transfer Fellow and postdoctoral research officer for almost 3 years. During this period, I particularly enjoyed public engagement, working with leading-edge businesses and expanding the reach of my work.

Bath Science Cafe 2012

What led me to my current role?

Following my passions led me on to a role within the University of Bath’s School of Management’s Marketing and External Relations team. Here I worked closely with corporate contacts & senior alumni and developed a wealth of knowledge in digital communications and marketing. I also designed and delivered lectures for MSc students titled ‘LinkedIn, Your Career and Networking’.

After almost 2 years I came across the opportunity to blend my engineering and science background, with my innate passion for communication and bringing people together, as the Network Manager for the Directed Assembly Network.

Are the skills I learnt during my PhD still useful…?

…Yes! My PhD transformed my life and I use the skills that I honed and developed every day. One of the most important areas of my development throughout my PhD was my communication skills and with it, the ability to get across ‘my message’ to any audience: from speaking at world-leading conferences and business meetings, to engaging with school children at the London Science Museum and presenting at the Bath Science Café ‘GPS, the Sun and the Human Race’.

Set for Britain Don Foster

Learning how to communicate the work that you pursue during your PhD is vital and my advice would be to say ‘yes’, say yes to opportunities: collaborate with someone new, work with people that are different to you and accept the invitations to present and promote your work. This will help you to build connections, develop relationships and hone your skills.

London Science Museum

Despite not choosing to pursue a research career, the skills that I learnt analysing data, programming and scrutinising results are invaluable and have given me excellent problem solving techniques which continue to be applicable today. My first-hand knowledge and understanding of being ‘an academic’ has been really helpful in both of my roles that have followed my research career.

I work closely with academics on a daily basis and understanding the nature of the role, the workload and indeed the pressures that they face, really helps me to develop strong relationships with Network members (in my current role) and of course colleagues. This comes in handy towards nurturing strong two-way relationships between myself and others; always ready to help each-other when needed.

What about you and your next step?

Do you have a talent for working with people and bringing people together? Are you passionate about a variety of research and about working in an innovative environment? And, is the freedom to pursue creativity and manage your own time something that you have relished during your PhD?

If so, it may be worth considering the multitude of non-academic roles within universities, which may also afford some freedom. In any case, transitioning on from your PhD will require some thought.

You may not realise it yet, but your PhD will have equipped you with a host of skills that may fast track you through industry, or place you in good stead to work in Higher Education.

My advice to you is to take some time out and reflect on your feelings and experiences of the past few years. Write down what you are good at, highlight the items you really like doing and after some Googling, try to match these to potential job titles & descriptions. Most of all, remember the wealth of information at your fingertips – seek out and speak to your colleagues (even the ones you don’t know yet), and, good luck!