Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

China Disability Scholarship!

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📥  Diversity, Internships, Work Experience

Applications for the 2016 CRCC Asia and the British Council China Disability Scholarship are now open.

Now running for a fourth year, the scholarship was established in January 2013 to offer students with a disability the opportunity to participate in CRCC Asia’s award-winning China Internship Program. With the support of the British Council in China, CRCC Asia is able to offer two fully-funded places on the 2016 China Disability Scholarship, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.
The Disability Scholarship Program is run in conjunction with the British Council in China and is specifically designed for academically excellent students with a disability. The successful candidates will undertake a two month internship working with the British Council in Beijing or Shanghai in summer 2016. The interns will live in the centre of each city, gaining transferable business skills and hands-on experience whilst working in an international setting. They will also benefit from CRCC Asia’s full social program with cultural activities, Chinese language classes, and professional networking events. Upon completion of the program, the students will be able to boost their CVs with their international internship experience, stand out from the crowd and prepare for their career ahead.

The recipients of the 2015 Disability Scholarship were Laura Gillhespy (Beijing) and Jasmine Rahman (Shanghai), graduates of the University of York and Durham University respectively. Both Laura and Jasmine recorded their time in China through weekly blogs. Since completing their internships, both Laura and Jasmine have returned to China to pursue their careers. To find out how they got on, you can read Laura’s blog here and Jasmine’s blog here.

Application deadline is 1st April 2016. 


Our #pledgeforparity is to achieve equal confidence

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📥  Advice, Diversity, inspire

All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Pledge for Parity is the theme for the 2016 International Women's Day, encouraging everyone (men and women) to take concrete steps to help achieve gender parity more quickly. Within the careers service we are making a pledge to achieve equality in self-confidence as we believe lack of self-belief is holding women back from achieving their full potential.

The Institution of Leadership & Management's research 'Ambition & Gender at Work' suggests that over 50% of women report feelings of self-doubt about their performance and careers. Time and time again research shows that  women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.  According to the Huffington Post, confidence is what allows you to start acting and risking and failing, to stop mumbling and apologising and hesitating. With it you can take on the world; without it you remain stuck on the starting block of your own potential.

So how can women develop confidence?

  • Use empowering language: Aston Universities Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King  says  women tend to use more cautious, less aggressive/assertive language, and often apologise for what they are about to say  - ‘This isn't quite my subject area, but perhaps you might consider…’ ‘I am not sure this is exactly relevant, but…’ This can be interpreted as weakness and makes what women say easier to dismiss or ignore.
  • Banish Negative Self-Talk: It is amazing how self-talk can lead us in to or out of a situation. If you can, take time to visualise the discussion or event going well rather than thinking of the things that may go wrong.  Ask yourself, 'whats the worst that could happen?' - when you do this,  you get a clarity and a bit of fear vanishes.
  • Take a risk: Become comfortable with things that you don’t know, and turn your fear into an eagerness to learn new skills.
  • Celebrate your successes: The best confidence boost is to celebrate your successes and keep reminding yourself of it by writing them on post-it notes. Then have them displayed in an area that you can view each day e.g. kitchen, wardrobe, medicine cabinet etc.
  • Invest in your development: This afternoon we are supporting the Bath Students Union by delivering a workshop designed to enable women to identify their strengths and values and to harness these to pursue positions of leadership. There are plenty of such training opportunities that women can harness on campus from attending skills development events to participating in the Sprint personal development programme.


Phd Career Stories

📥  Careers Resources, For PhDs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers, Uncategorized

 The first of our career stories from researchers now working in roles outside of research in Higher Education.

Dr Helen Featherstone - from science communication to public engagement


Helen 2


What is your current role?

I’m the joint Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath. I job share with Dr Joanna Coleman. We head the Public Engagement Unit which supports Bath’s culture of public engagement with research.


Give a brief overview of your career history to date, and any steps you feel were important to you

I’ve gone from being a science communicator to working with others to develop their engagement skills and more recently developing strategic support for public engagement with research. During that time, I also did my PhD.

Helen 1

I work with researchers to help them make sense of public engagement

I got into this sector a couple of years after graduating from my BSc. I attended Edinburgh International Science Festival and realised that there was the possibility of getting paid to have fun with science. I did an MSc in Science Communication in Cardiff which opened up a whole new world to me. I stayed largely in the interactive/science centre field, but also have interests in creativity and collaboration in public engagement.

Roles that I’ve had over the years include: Project Manager, Education Manager (Public Programmes), and Content and Visitor Researcher alongside a really wide range of voluntary and freelance positions. Whilst working in science centres I’ve done so many different things: developing content for interactive exhibits, undertaking audience research to inform exhibit development, writing proposals, evaluating activities, running training courses, and delivering science demonstration and planetarium shows. All this involves working with researchers and a wide variety of creatives such as designers, theatre producers, illustrators, animators… It’s a fascinating sector to be in – no two days are the same.

Helen 3

I’ve spent many years making interactive exhibits

I’ve always had a strong interest in “the public” in public engagement: who are they, why do they get involved and what do they take from the experiences? The opportunity to do a PhD to explore this is in more detail was too good an opportunity to miss. It was also based with one of the key research groups in the country which helped in making the move from working full time (with the associated salary) to researching full time (with the associated bursary).

Throughout my career I’ve taken on relevant voluntary roles from being secretary of the local branch of the British Science Association to Chair of the Visitor Studies Group and more recently being a mentor on the Public Engagement Academy. These have provided me with opportunities to develop skills and experience beyond those of the day job which has been critical for me.

 How did you decide what you wanted to do after your PhD?

It was more circumstances and opportunity rather than a deliberate choice. I was working on both research and practice (in two different institutions) when I finished. I enjoyed both environments and also realised that I was spending more and more time working with others to develop their public engagement. When both contracts ended at a similar time it coincided with me applying for my role at University of Exeter where I led the RCUK Catalyst Project*. This meant I got to continue working with others, be in a university and also still be involved with the practical aspects of public Engagement.

*The Public Engagement Unit at Bath was formed because Bath also secured RCUK funding through the same scheme.


How do you use the skills from your PhD in your current role?

I use the concepts from my PhD on an almost daily basis – which is really satisfying. In reality though, it’s my combination of research and practice that is essential for my current role. Research experience means I have some understanding of the working life of the academics I work with whilst also being able to help them with really solid, practical advice on their public engagement activities.


Helen 4

I couldn't do my work without post-it notes!


What advice would you give to researchers interested in working in similar roles?

Understand the communities you work with both within the university and beyond – spend some serious time outside of the university. The ability to operate credibly with everyone you meet is essential to being in this role. Being something of an outsider helps too.

My MSc was a critical starting point for me and is something that is essential as part of a science communication / public engagement career. Entry level jobs may not specify having a post-graduate course, but many of the applicants will have an MSc. Getting into the field without a post-graduate certificate is possible, but practical experience alone may hinder career progression within the sector. It’s worth thinking about if / when to do a post-graduate course if you’re considering a career in science communication.

Drinking tea and eating cake are key skills for this role!


National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement

Careers Service Guide to Science Alternatives - information and advice on non lab-based roles for scientists

Getting into science communication - excellent blog post from the University of Leeds Careers Service - jisc mail list for science communicators. Used for discussions, sharing ideas, promoting events and advertising work experience, competitions and vacancies.


Top tips for pre-reg pharmacy applications

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources

Its that time of the year when our Placements team at Bath are busy organising careers talks and events for our Pharmacy students as the deadlines for pre-reg applications start looming. So, I thought I would share some tips to make impactful applications.

pharmacy cross
  1. If you are applying for a particular sector, then we can assume that you are keen to work there. If this is the case, then enthusiasm counts for a lot. Try to get this across in your statement. What is it that attracts you to this sector? What experiences have you had in the past?
  2. Your CV should be a maximum of 2-pages, succinct and mistake-free. It is always good to have a few people review it before you start applying. After you’ve seen it time and again, the tendency is to gloss over typos or grammatical errors that a fresh pair of eyes might catch. So, run it past your tutors or book an appointment with one of our careers advisers.
  3. For set application forms, make sure that you read the question carefully. Think about what information is being asked for. Most application forms are electronic these days and in some cases, free text answers may have limited space, so try to be concise with your answer and make sure you are answering the question asked.
  4. Prioritise relevant experience and consider ways you can differentiate your experience from your peers. For example, you have all done some amount of clinical activity and gained pharmacy experience. The key to a unique application is to highlight activities that other candidates may not have experienced. For example, in a community setting did you experience working in a travel clinic, were you involved in the management of asthma or did blood pressure testing? Within a hospital, were you involved in drug manufacturing or any specialist work for example in mental health or pediatrics.
  5. Don't forget to highlight any research you were involved in or extra-curricular activities such as being a student rep for your year group.
  6.  Tailor your cover letter to the company or hospital trust you are applying to. You really want to convey your motivation for the role and demonstrate an understanding of what you'll be doing day-to-day. So, if you are applying to a particular NHS trust you may want to look at their annual report, have an understanding of their specialism and also the patient demographics. The 'about us' section on the Trust website is usually a good starting point.That said, do not just copy and paste information from the relevant websites. You need to try and interpret the information you have read and why this is important to you.

Check in next week when we will share our tips for pre-reg interviews!



Eight good international careers web sites for International Careers Week!

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, International Students, Tips & Hints

organised files

To celebrate our International Careers Week, we thought you might like to step away from your search engine of choice, and take a look at these hand-picked (by Tracey Wells, Head of Careers) international-relevant resources.

1.      GradlinkUK

Let’s start with the award-winning GradlinkUK from our friends down the road at UWE Bristol. It’s actually 6 different careers sites covering Africa, ASEAN, China, Canada, India and Bangladesh. Jobs, CV and careers advice. There are some nice case studies too.

2.      Targetjobs

Covering 40 different countries from Australia to the US, these handy quick overviews give an insight into the jobs market, applying for jobs and even some background on the countries themselves.

3.      EURES

The European Job Mobility Portal. More than just a web site with 1 million+ jobs in Europe. You can also chat online to a EURES Adviser. That’s new.

4.      GoinGlobal

Even without a subscription you can still access careers information on 35 countries. One day we’d love to subscribe to this site!

5.      LinkedIn

Not just for networking, there are thousands of jobs and internships around the world on LinkedIn. Use it for company research as well as networking. Don’t neglect your profile either – you never know who’s looking for a candidate like you.

6.      EURAXESS

Researchers in Motion…research and funding opportunities in Europe and further afield. There are nearly 9000 opportunities advertised at the moment.

7.      Prospects

Country profiles from Prospects cover 30 different countries including European countries, the USA, China and more. Sections on work experience and internships as well as general careers information. Beautiful photos on the homepage.

8.      The University of Bath Careers Service 

And finally, we’ve brought together loads more fantastic international careers resources in our online catalogue. Some of these are actual books that you can access here in the Careers Service. Yes, books. Other listings include some of the best web sites for both work and study internationally.


Extra events for International Careers Week!

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📥  Careers Service Update, Event


We have been finalising some last-minute details, but are now pleased to announce some extra events as part of International Careers Week.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will have the return of our popular One-stop CV clinic run jointly with the Academic Skills Centre. Just drop in between 3.15 and 4.15 and our team of experts will be able to give you feedback on your CVs according to your needs - either for English language or structure and content, or both.

And on Thursday lunchtime, Becky Gallagher from the Students' Union Joblink service is doing a presentation on internships and work experience with local companies, highlighting the Santander internship scheme they have been running for the last few years. This scheme is open to international students, several of whom have taken it up, hence its inclusion in this week's events.

To have a look at the full schedule, do visit our events listing, I'm sure there will be something there to interest you. And if not, please do get in touch with us using the Comments facility - we'd love to know what you'd like next year's International Careers Week to contain!


Get Connected in International Careers Week

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Event, Finding a Job, International Students, Networking, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints


We know that one of the best sources of career advice and inspiration is someone who is doing, or has done, the thing you are wanting to do. So we are delighted that Alumni Relations have organised another of their highly successful Get Connected events this week - and to make it even better, it is right here on campus and has an international theme to match the week!

Students will be offered short, informal appointments with alumni to ask any burning questions about their future career. There will also be opportunities for general networking and staff from our Career Service will offer advice on CVs and the evening will conclude with an informal networking opportunity.

Advice will be available from the alumni experts on how to start your working life around the world, including international students looking for tips on how to enter careers in the UK. The volunteers come from varied careers and can give advice on staying in the UK and working abroad in many different career areas.

Get Connected - International Careers will be this Thursday 3 March between 6pm and 8pm in the Plug Bar in the Students' Union. It's free to attend but you will need to register in advance to claim your free drink! A list of those who have already registered is available on our website - so if you're a little shy about going and want to know if any of your friends or classmates are going, you can have a look! (And if they're not - why not tell them about it?)

Opportunities to ask one-to-one career questions of alumni are very rare, and people before have found this a very valuable experience – not just for the advice but for getting some experience in the important skill of networking.

Find out more about the alumni volunteers - and make sure you book your place in order to meet the alumni experts and also a free drink!




Am I wasting my PhD?

📥  Advice, Career Development, For PhDs

One of the things my colleagues and I hear most often in 1:1 conversations with research postgraduates is 'I don't want to waste my PhD'. Usually this is said in the context of someone not wanting to consider what they feel is a move away from academia or research; it can be easier to see how a PhD is 'needed' or applicable when it's an essential requirement of the job you would be using the research knowledge or technical skills you have acquired day-to-day. Nevertheless, my usual response to 'I don't want to waste my PhD' is to inwardly yell 'You wouldn't be!'. The broad range of skills and attributes you develop through conducting doctoral research will be highly sought after by employers - more on this later.

However, a conversation with someone yesterday and reading this excellent career story on the Nature Jobs Blog reminded me that this can be a complex and emotionally-charged question, so I wanted to unpick it a little, based on my own knowledge, personal experience and the experiences of others I've come across, with a healthy dose of career development theory thrown in.

- you've invested huge amounts of time, energy, intellect and possibly cash into doing a PhD, and it's perfectly understandable that you don't want to feel that that is wasted. It can, however, be helpful to unpick a little (on your own, with a friend or one of our friendly, impartial careers advisers), what you mean by wasting the PhD and why that matters to you. What motivated you to do a PhD in the first place and have your motivations/feelings about it changed over time? Are you assuming you'd be wasting your PhD in particular career paths or contexts without having checked this out? What is important to you in a career? What light does this shed on how much it matters whether the PhD is 'wasted'?
-there are different ways to think about your PhD. Most people I talk to underestimate the broad range of skills they develop through completing a PhD. The Researcher Development Framework is a useful tool for mapping out all the skills and attributes you acquire - take a good look at this, and also map out everything you do as part of your PhD and research-related activities, and then think about the skills, behaviours and attributes you are using. Almost certainly you would be using some of these in any future career moves.
- not all jobs require a PhD. This doesn't mean that the skills you have developed won't be sought after by employers, but employers may vary considerably in how much they know about what a research degree involves, and it's important that you can market your PhD effectively for the context and organisation you are targeting. The previous point should help you convince yourself of the value of your PhD so you can convince others. Also, whilst the PhD may have taken up most of your time and energy over the past three or four years, don't discount non-research interests and activities - they may be your most important selling points for particular roles.

- for some roles, organisations or sectors, you may find yourself starting at the same entry point as other graduates or new entrants. Whilst that can be galling, it would also be true of other people wanting to take a change of career direction. It may be the case that having a higher degree can enable you to progress more quickly, even if you start in a 'lower-grade' or entry-level position. As Virginia did, setting yourself some short and long-term goals can help you to see future career moves in a positive light and generate some control in the midst of uncertainty.

- we are influenced by other people, and people will inevitably have different views on what you should do next, so develop effective strategies for dealing with and processing these. For me it was a mixture of nodding and smiling, avoiding the subject at times, trying to listen to and understand others' points of view, and (over time) developing a positive answer as to why I wasn't staying in academia. Think proactively about who it might be helpful to connect with and how. Who could give you useful advice, access to opportunities or help you to check out some of your assumptions? Who needs to know you exist? Find yourself a cheerleader - someone who can encourage you to recognise your value, keep going in the face of setbacks and give you a nudge to book on that training course or learn that new programming language.

- don't under-estimate the emotional and psychological side of career transitions, be open to working through change (and change often involves loss), and to developing resilience, optimism and flexibility in your approach to future career moves.

Just a few thoughts on a big topic for a Thursday morning - we would welcome feedback and personal examples.



Get ready for International Careers Week!

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📥  Career Development, Event, International Students, Networking, Uncategorized


Next week sees the return of our annual internationally-themed week of events. We have tried to have a little bit of something for everyone so do have a look at our events for that week to see what takes your fancy!

The week kicks off with Mars China coming in to talk about their management leadership opportunities for Chinese students wanting to return home after their studies.

We then focus on Japan, with DISCO International talking about opportunities for Japanese bilinguals - as well as PwC talking specifically about their opportunities for international students. With UK recruitment currently tightening up for international students, this is a great opportunity to meet a company who embraces internationalism. Also that day we host Withers & Rogers talking about the future of global organisations and how IP Offerings and protection are a key way to enhance that.

Thursday brings the Fulbright Commission here, offering their annual tips session on Postgraduate Study in the USA. We know that many of you are interested in this, so do come in and speak to the experts!

Added to all these external presentations, our Careers Service experts are offering a programme of workshops to help students both home and international prepare themselves for an international career. There are two assessment centre group exercise sessions - it's peak season for assessment days just now so book your slot soon. We also have repeat sessions of our popular workshops for international students looking at covering letters and also interview skills. If you are finding these hard to master then come along and learn how to demystify them and feel more in control of your approach.

You may have heard us talk about networking and advise you to develop and make best use of your LinkedIn profile. If you know you should but aren't sure how, book onto our workshop on Wednesday afternoon which will give you tips and strategies to boost your profile and show you how to extend your reach by leveraging the Bath Connection.

Finally, we are delighted to say that this year we are working with Alumni Relations who are offering one of their highly successful Get Connected sessions right here on campus on Thursday evening. It also has an international focus and the experts are all either international alumni or alumni who have worked overseas during their careers. Added to this they are launching a Get Connected webinar on Friday, for those of you who'd like the chance to ask your questions remotely.

Hopefully this will have whetted your appetite but do remember, if you'd rather just come in and ask one of our Advisers your questions, we are available every day for 1:1 appointments - we're looking forward to seeing you!


Higher Education: careers outside of academia


📥  For PhDs, Sector Insight, Uncategorized

I talk to quite a few people who want to move outside of research but enjoy being in a university environment; if that's you, then a non-academic role in HE may be worth considering.

So what kinds of roles exist? A surprising variety, often broadly categorised as 'administration', though it's worth noting that that term often has a broader application in HE than it would elsewhere, and that as you progress you are likely to be able to contribute to decision-making and strategic planning.  At the University of Bath there are PhD holders in wide of range of departments including Student Services, Registry, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Research and Innovation Services, the Widening Participation Office, support and managerial roles in academic Departments, Faculties and research centres, as well as right here in the Careers Service. Roles and non-academic departments within a university include student support, student records and admissions, quality assurance, policy and governance, estates and facilities, library, finance, research support and business development, HR, training and development, community outreach, engagement and widening participation, Information Technology

... to name a few.

Getting in

Usually it will be a case of applying for individual roles, though Imperial College run a Finance and Management Graduate Training Scheme which incorporates rotations in a variety of departments. If you are currently a member of research staff and are interested in staying at the University in a non-research role, then you could apply as an internal candidate or through the University's redeployment process.

In order to demonstrate your suitability for non-research roles, you need to engage in a little self-reflection and identify the things that are important to you in a future career move, as well as the broad range of skills you have developed as a researcher. Whilst you may not use your research knowledge and technical research skills in non-research roles, many of the generic research and transferable skills you develop - project management, the ability to handle, analyse and interpret data, solve problems, think critically, and work independently and as part of a team, will be invaluable, as will your ability to communicate with and understand academics, students, and other stakeholders, and your understanding of broader issues in HE. As with any career move there will be value in getting involved in activities outside of research, such as Departmental Committees, student support, training and mentoring, organizing conferences and research seminars, Departmental open days, outreach activities, research commercialisation, and potentially part-time administrative roles, as well as voluntary activities and non-university interests. Some roles, such as counselling, will require an additional professional qualification, and others may benefit from some additional training or skills development; check out the training opportunities offered by the Researcher Development Unit Staff Development, and the Students' Union.

If there are roles you think you might be interested in, talk to people already doing them and find out exactly what they do day-to-day and what skills, knowledge and experience would be required follow a similar path. To give you a helping hand, over the next few weeks we'll be posting a series of case studies of former researchers now working in non-research roles across the University. also have some case studies.