Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

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

LinkedIn-left-behind

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!

 

Career essentials for research postgraduates

📥  For PhDs, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago we had our first informal 'coffee and careers' session for research postgraduates. This was a great opportunity to meet research postgrads informally and hear some of their careers questions and concerns. In particular we talked about moving from academia into industry and when is a good time to start thinking about your career.

Here are some particular questions our guests had, and ideas for finding the answers:

How do I know what jobs and employers are available in the South West?

Our Finding a Graduate Job Guide has a section on the labour market in the South West. Also check out our web resources, which include an A-Z list of local employers, Target Jobs city profiles and my colleague's previous post on the local labour market. The Local Employer Partnership has detailed information on the main sectors and industries in the region. The company search function on LinkedIn can also be useful for identifying employers in specific regions and sectors.

How do I locate employers I might want to work for?

If you want to stay close to your research field, your supervisor and others in your network may be able to suggest relevant employers. Our Find out about employers web page has some great advice on how to generate your own lists of employers; in particular the Library Management databases which link to company reports and histories and sector research reports. Again, LinkedIn can be useful for identifying organisations in particular sectors and industries. Professional Bodies and Learned Societies (e.g. the Institute of Physics , the Social Research Association and the Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry; see the HMRC website for a full list) sometimes have lists of member organisations and recruiters, and offer access to employer networks, mentors and careers events which can help you to identify and connect with potential employers. Business directories such as Kompass are worth checking out. To identify lists of scientific recruiters, try labhoo, the UK Science Park Association and Airto. Look at specialist publications/websites related to your area of interest, and at our subject-specific web pages for researchers.

How do I find out what previous PhD researchers have gone on to do?

We collect this information on our PhD graduates six months after they've graduated as part of the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey; summary sheets from each Department are available on our website. Also have a look at the national picture through the labour market information and 'What do researchers do?' publications on the Vitae website. Career stories of other researchers  can be useful sources of information; and don't forget to use Bath Connection, our database of Bath alumni contacts, to get some insights from people already working in sectors and organisations that might interest you.

When is a good time to start thinking about my career?

I'm honestly not sure there's a right answer to this one. Obviously thinking about it sooner rather than later will give you time and space to research and make yourself marketable for roles and sectors that might appeal to you. My advice? Get involved where you can, find some way of organising and recording what you do in and outside of research, and pay attention to the things that motivate and matter to you. Our career planning timeline has suggestions of career and development opportunities you can get involved with at each stage of your PhD.

How can I market my doctoral skills to employers?

We run a workshop which answers this very question and it's coming up soon on 1st June.

Can I still use the Careers Service after I've finished my PhD?

Yes. We offer on-going access to our graduates, and if you can't easily make it to campus you can speak to an adviser over the phone or on Skype.

Full details of how we support research postgraduates are available on our website.

 

 

Interview practice - any time, anywhere!

  

📥  Interviews

Student Overview Video.mov

Ah, interviews. Sooner or later, we all have to have them - whether it's for a placement, a summer internship, postgraduate study or the graduate job of your dreams. But they are not the most looked-forward-to of events. Or the most thoughtfully timed.

Does this sound like you?

"Yay! I have an interview! Oh no, it's the day after tomorrow and I really need some practice!"

Or...

"Oh no, it says that the interview is a video one and I have no idea how that will work let alone how I am going to come over on camera...."

As you know, in the Careers Service we are always very happy to help with interview preparation and do offer practice interviews, but there are times when we don't have the slots free, or you don't have gaps in your timetables, or actually you really really want to practice using the video interview format.

So, we are delighted to announce that we can now help you with that!

InterviewStream is a video interview platform which offers you the opportunity to build your own video interview from a bank of thousands of questions, take the interview, and review your performance and comment on it at a later date. We have also built you a portfolio of ready-made interviews that you can choose from.

Thanks to the generosity of the Alumni Fund, and supported by the MBA Careers Office, all registered Bath students can access this package on an unlimited basis. Simply register using your Computing Services email and take it from there. You'll find fuller details and login instructions on this page.

There is even a handy 'um, like' counter to use when you watch back your interview so you can see how many of those dreaded filler words you are using!

So, have a go! And do tell us if there are targeted interview sets that you would like us to build. Your feedback will be very gratefully received and it will help us build a more useful service.

 

Time management tips around exams!

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

I was in the library a few days back, it was heaving! You lot, hunched over your textbooks, sunlight deprived and looking visibly stressed. I have been there, albeit a long time ago and know the feeling of living off cups of coffee and pot noodles. It really does take its toll on your mind and body, fueling anxiety and stress. I really mean it when I say, it doesn't need to be this way. Much comes down to that old chestnut "time management" and here are some tips to help you make the most of the limited revision time you have left:

  1. Make a list: sounds obvious but much comes down to how you use the list! First, list absolutely everything you have to do (coursework, revision, sports commitment, work, calling your mum etc). Make a 2x2 grid with ‘Important’ and ‘Not important’ across the top and ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not urgent’ down the side. Allocate your tasks to the four squares in the grid. Bam! you have prioritised whats important and along the way gained a bit of perspective.
  2. Must-should-want-will: alternatively, organise your master to do list under the following headings: ‘Must do’, ‘Should do’, ‘Want to do’. Now make a ‘Will do’ list for today taking items from each list. Only add things you know you will do. Reward yourself for the ‘must do’ and ‘should do’ items by allowing yourself a ‘want to do’ item.
  3. Smarter revision using a timer: Buy a kitchen timer or use a timer app on your phone. Set the timer for a period of 40 minutes. Work on one task without stopping until the timer goes off. Set the timer for 10 minutes and have a break. Set another 40 minutes and repeat. This technique will not only help you focus but will also ensure you are keeping the old enemy 'procrastination' at bay.
  4. Visual nagging: Put up a sign by your desk with the question ‘What is the best thing you could be working on now?’ Alternatively, put something that will remind you about a task in a place where you have to notice it like your mirror or on top of your phone...
  5. Batching: Group tasks by similarity, e.g. same location, involving same people, using same resources. Do similar tasks together and maximise your time.
  6. Energy scheduling: Try to schedule particularly demanding tasks or revision for times in the day when you tend to have most energy. Take advantage of times when you are feeling productive to tackle stuff that is most challenging.
  7. Motivation by action: Don’t wait for motivation to strike. Whatever you are putting off, just start it and allow yourself to stop after a fixed time period (it can be as little as 5 minutes). It doesn’t matter if you haven’t made much progress. See if starting it has made you more motivated to engage with it.
  8. Change your location: If you’re having trouble starting a task, go somewhere else to do it. The change of location could produce a change in thinking or attitude which makes it easier to do the thing you have been putting off.
  9. Eliminate time wasters: be honest, what do you waste time on? Facebook? Twitter? Emails? Stop checking them so often. One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links, switch off notifications and your phone. Schedule set times to browse and perhaps reward yourself with social media time when you tick an action off your to-do-list.
  10. Realistic last minute: When you are given coursework or a project with a deadline, work out when is the last point at which you could start the task and have a realistic hope of getting it done. Add a bit of extra time for bad luck.

Finally, make sure you eat (not just pot noodle but something wholesome), get fresh air, sleep and support. Contact Counselling & Wellbeing for the support bit, especially if you find your levels of anxiety are rocketing leading up to exams. If the job hunting side of things is weighing on your mind, then please be assured we are here all year round and you can use our service even after you graduate.

 

Top tips to get the most out of the careers fair tomorrow!

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

The Graduate Recruitment Fair takes place tomorrow in Founders Hall from 10:00am to 3:00pm. We know this is a busy week for a lot of you with dissertation deadlines and exams looming - however investing half an hour to attend the fair tomorrow could open doors, enhance your future applications and help you feel more in control of your future career post-graduation.

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So, here are our top tips to get the most out of the fair:

  • Do your research: have a look at the fair programme and explore company websites. This way you won't waste time asking basic questions.
  • Ask the right questions: make a list of the key questions you want to ask. Think about asking questions that will help you glean useful insights about the company such as: What is the culture like?, What are the key challenges / trends facing the industry? or What are the key skills you look for in applicants?
  • Take your CV: the fair is an opportunity for you to market yourself, therefore take a recent copy of your CV and if the opportunity arises do hand it to potential employers.
  • Dress appropriately: whilst there is no need to be suited and booted, do dress professionally! After all first impressions really matter.
  • Follow up: where possible ask for the recruiters business card and follow up! Thank them for the advice they offered or email them your CV. It may also be useful to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Finally and most importantly, avoid going around the fair in a pack! This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to potential employers you are a capable and independent individual.

For more tips, check out our handy help-sheet on how to prepare for the careers fair. Good luck and hope to see you in Founders Hall tomorrow.