Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: Research

Researching employers using library databases

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📥  Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Researching employers using library databases

I recently went along to a careers skills session delivered by Management Librarian Helen Rhodes. The aim of the session was to look at some useful tools to help students find business and industry information through several useful databases which are found through the library website. Even though I had some basic knowledge about the databases before, I was surprised about the extensive and detailed information you could find on employers, including developments and issues, competitors, tweet mentions and news, but also covering sector and industry information, country profiles and lifestyle analyses. At the end you can usually print out a detailed summary as a PDF report! The information you find can absolutely give you an advantage in that graduate interview and your commercial awareness will increase immensely, which is exactly the skill employers say graduates lack the most!

So here is a summary of some useful databases, what they can do and where you can find them. Be aware that there are many different usages of each database and I am just covering a few examples below.

All of these databases and more can be found on our library website.

hoover

Hoovers is a database of 84 million companies and industries. It offers financial and executive details plus a description of activities and competitors of public, private, and government-run enterprises.  By using the search engine on top of the page you search by companies, people and also industries. For example, a quick search for “wind power generation” under industries gave me detailed information about the top companies within the industry, the business challenges and key insights into industry facts and developments. You can also search industries by location. A great tool!

marketline

Marketline has 31000 detailed company profiles, SWOT analyses and industry reports with PESTLE analyses. This is another very useful database, which is useful for researching companies but also for researching a specific industry or sector. For example a search for chocolate confectionary under industry gave me detailed industry reports from all around the world regarding the chocolate confectionary industry!  A detailed pdf report including graphs and tables was available within seconds as well.

passport

Passport also has many company profiles and industry reports, however with passport you can get detailed reports across 80 countries including country reports, market share information and consumer trends and lifestyle analysis. If you are thinking of applying to work in another country, Passport is an invaluable tool for you.

nexis

Nexis provides access to the latest business news and data. It features profiles of 46 million global companies and 3 million UK companies. It includes UK national newspapers and trade press, plus hundreds of newspapers and magazines published worldwide.  A great resource before that very important interview!


Helen Rhodes offers regular workshops on how to use these databases effectively, both through Faculty and through Careers. Have a look at MyFuture in the new year for workshops and talks arranged in the Spring term.

The Careers Service has an excellent help guide on researching employers:

http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/docs/research.pdf

 

 

Apply for a scholarship to attend the European Forum in Alpbach, Austria

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📥  Commercial Awareness, Event, inspire

Are you under 32 years of age and want to immerse yourself in an environment with new ideas, ways of thinking and opportunities for making new contacts? Then apply for a scholarship to attend the European Forum 2016 in Alpbach in Austria, a conference that brings together students and professionals from across Europe.

What is the European Forum Alpbach?
Often called the European version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Forum Alpbach has been attracting leading thinkers and practitioners since 1945: economist Friedrich Hayek, physicist Erwin Schrödinger and philosopher Theodor Adorno attended regularly, as have more recently UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and economist Jeffrey Sachs. Every year, about 5,000 participants from over 60 countries meet to discuss emerging trends in eight broad fields: technology; law; European and international affairs; financial markets; the economy; public health; higher education; and architecture and urban planning. Each of these fields has a dedicated “symposium” in the conference schedule. All of the events, however, are united by a loose, overarching theme: in 2016, the European Forum Alpbach takes on the question of “New Enlightenment”.

What distinguishes the European Forum Alpbach from other international conferences is the involvement of hundreds of young people from across Europe through the clubs of the Forum Alpbach Network and their scholarships. The first week of the conference – the “Seminar Week” – is dedicated entirely to the scholars: senior experts, government officials and academics “pitch” their week-long seminars to you, and you pick and mix the ones you want to attend. Moreover, throughout the Forum, the clubs invite senior conference participants to informal, small-scale discussions with scholars, so-called “fireside talks”. These can be very short-notice, so it’s essential to keep an ear to the ground, and an eye on Twitter and Facebook. And, of course, there’s a lively social scene, a football tournament (which has been known to field government ministers), beach volleyball and tennis courts, a pristine Alpine lake, and the Tyrolean mountains all around you for an afternoon’s escape. The Club Alpbach London awards scholarships to cover the conference fees. They will also reserve a place for you in the shared club accommodation in the center of Alpbach. The costs for accommodation (roughly £400) and travel are usually not included. However, support with additional costs is available.

Eligibility
Students and recent graduates up to the age of 32 who study or work in the UK are eligible to apply.
Individuals who represent a wide spectrum of opinions, and academic and professional backgrounds.
Ideally you plan to be in London from September 2016, as Alpbach hope you will continue to play an active role in the Club. However, this is no mandatory requirement to apply.
Almost all of the Forum’s events are conducted in English so there’s no requirement to speak German. Please note that they require scholars to attend the European Forum Alpbach 2016 in its entirety, so please only apply if you are available for the whole period.

How to apply
Please send an email to scholarships@clubalpbachlondon.eu with a single PDF file attached, containing a motivation letter, your CV and, a confirmation of your studies (eg. scanned degree, transcript or confirmation of study). In your motivation letter, in no more than 200 words each (so no more than 800 in total):

  • your reasons for applying
  • which aspects of this year’s conference programme you find particularly interesting
  • why we should pick you
  • what you plan to do after graduating (if applicable), and whether you plan to be in London from September 201

The deadline for applications is Thursday 31 March 2016 at 5pm.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email contact@clubalpbachlondon.eu. You can also find out more about the Club Alpbach London, on their website.

 

Applying for research jobs in industry

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📥  Applications, For PhDs

I was speaking to a recruiter to research roles in industry recently, and she shared some useful feedback on what does and doesn’t work in applications for industry:

Do: - Research the company thoroughly. In cover letters and personal statements it’s very important to not just talk about your current and past experience and achievements; you need to demonstrate how what you have to offer would add value to the organisation you are applying to. You also need to have clear reasons why you are applying to that company, which takes careful research via the company website, newsletters, social media and professional contacts. Check out these articles on researching companies and explaining why you want to work for a particular company. Keep your reasons positive; you may be thinking that you want to leave academia because of the lack of security or high levels of competition, but prospective industrial employers will want to hear about your pull factors, not your push factors. What do you know about how working in industry is different and why does this appeal to you? Who have you talked to or collaborated with from industry? It's probably best not mention personal circumstances; the recruiter doesn't need to know that you have relocated with your family.

Do: - keep your CV to two pages for outside of academia. Take a look at the researcher CV examples on the Vitae website, and also Sarah Blackford’s advice on CVs for industry and academia.

Do: - expand on examples and provide clear and specific evidence that you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Use the STAR technique (Situation, task, action, result) to structure your examples, and talk about measurable outcomes and impact of your efforts and projects.

Do: - be aware of the broad range of skills, both technical and transferable, that you have gained as part of the PhD, and be prepared to explain these clearly and confidently to the employer. I've read a lovely article this week from Cheeky Scientist about the transferable skills that recruiters in industry are looking for; if you don't think you have all these skills, YOU DO; come and have a chat with a careers adviser and we'll help you identify them.

Do: - be positive and confident about your experience in both applications and interviews. Steer clear of apologetic and negative phrases (‘While I don’t have any industrial experience…’) and, don’t undersell or underestimate the value of both your technical research and broader skills. Just because you have never had ‘programmer’ in your job title doesn’t mean you don’t have the high level programming skills that are exactly what the company is looking for.

Do: - break cover letters and CVs down into separate paragraphs. Lack chunks of text will seem intimidating to a busy recruiter. The same principle applies to CVs.

Do: - proof-read all application materials carefully. Typos look unprofessional and hint at laziness.

Don’t: - repeat information. Busy recruiters don’t have time to read the same information twice. If you’ve written in earlier sections of an application form that you have a relevant undergraduate or Masters degree it isn’t necessary to repeat this in a personal statement.

Don’t: - include long lists of publications/conferences/posters. At most you could include one or two examples of particular interest to the company you are applying to; it can be better to briefly refer to having a strong publication record as evidence of communication skills or scientific impact, and include a link to your LinkedIn or Research Gate profile that the employer can look at if they choose.

Don’t: - include a photo with your CV for UK recruiters.

Don’t: - make the employer dig for the information they really need – use clear formatting, relevant subheading (e.g. research experience, research techniques, project management), and appropriate (though not excessive) use of bold to draw attention to your key skills and achievements, which should be tailored to the skills the employer is looking for.

 

Applying for jobs in academia - resources round up

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📥  Applications, For PhDs

As the time of year is approaching when I spend quite a bit of my time giving feedback on academic job applications, I thought it would be a good time to draw together some useful resources on applying for jobs in academia. I doubt very much that this is an exhaustive list; do share any other resources you have found useful in the comments.

Vitae - sample academic CVs from across the disciplines, an extensive list of interview questions, advice on writing a statement of research interests and finding funding

Manchester Academic Careers website - advice on CVs, covering letters, personal statements and interview presentations, as well as video career stories of current academics

jobs.ac.uk - articles on a range of topics relating to careers in academia, including this one on writing personal statements for academic jobs. They also have a range of free e-books on topics including academic job interviews and covering letters for research jobs, and last year ran a Google Hangout on academic job interviews.

Cambridge Early Career Blog - Steve Joy writes engagingly on a range of topics. I particularly liked his advice on talking about teaching in interviews and academic cover letters.

The New Academic - tips and stories from Nadine Muller and other early-career lecturers, including a detailed article on academic interviews.

Check out also our in-house guide to finding postdoctoral research positions, which includes on applications and interviews.

I appreciate that most of these resources are UK focussed. Our vacancies web page for researchers contains links to vacancy and information sites on academic jobs outside of the UK, and a previous post also contains resources on global academic careers.

Careers advisers can provide 1:1 support with academic job applications, including CV feedback and practice interviews and presentation practice.

 

 

Research Funding and your career

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📥  Academic Career, Careers Resources, For PhDs, Tips & Hints

If you're planning a longer term academic career, be aware that academic employers will look for evidence of your ability to attract research funding. Depending on your research field it may not be easy for you to be a Principal Investigator on a grant, but it's still important to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the grant writing process and can get invloved in bids, as well as plans for future research and knowledge about possible funding sources. In the AGCAS report on Getting the First Lecturing Job that I've referenced in a previous post, responses on the extent and types of experience in obtaining research funding that recruiters would look for varied across disciplines. Respondents in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering were more likely to look for evidence of larger independent grants and fellowships, whereas respondents from Social Sciences gave a broader range of answers, highlighting the value of travel grants, small project grants and joint grant applications.* Before tackling a larger grant or Fellowship application yourself, it could be a good idea to bid for some smaller funding or try to be involved in a grant application another academic is writing.

Even if you're not planning a longer-term academic career, or want to stay flexible, involvement in funding applications is highly transferable to other settings and will build your skills in budgeting, planning and logical and persuasive writing, as well as your collaborative skills if you're involved in joint funding bids with other researchers.

Depending on your specialism, funding may be available from research councils, trusts, charities, or industrial partners or sponsors. It's really important to speak to academics in your field, as they are best placed to know the most appropriate funding sources for your research area, and can give advice and feedback on any research proposals.
I'd never attempt to put together a 'list' of funding sources, but here are some suggestions for starting places to look:

- Research Professional is a searchable database of both large and small funding sources from a wide range of sources

- Research and Innovation Services  list funding opportunities and send out newsletters with upcoming funding sources

- The Research Councils provide small and large-scale funding for research projects, including grants and Fellowships. Some research councils only allow permament acaemic staff to be Principal or Co-Investigators on a grant, so check the eligibility criteria carefully. Even if you are not able to be a named PI or Co-I on a grant proposal, it can be possible for you to have an input into the grant writing process. Some Research Councils offer 'Researcher Co-Investigator' status to PhDs or postdocs who have made a significant contribtion to writing the funding application, so look out for this.

- Independent Fellowships (career development opportunities which give you the chance to develop, and secure funding for, your own independent research projects), are provided by the Research Councils, and other organisations including the European Commission, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and The Royal Society. See this University of Manchester Guide for more sources and advice on Fellowships. Some Fellowship schemes ask for a specific amount of postdoctoral research experience first. If you're applying to a Fellowship with Bath as your host institution, our colleagues in Research and Innovation Services can provide guidance and feedback on your application.

- The vacancies section of our web pages for researchers include other places to look for funding.

- small grants, including travel grants, may be available from a range of sources including the relevant learned society/professional body relating to your discipline.

- look out for internal funding sources, such as funding for public engagment activiites, or the Researcher Development Fund.

The Researcher Development Unit runs courses on grant writiing, so do check these out too.

*Do look at the relevant sections of the report for a fuller picture and interesting qualitiative comments. Views on this will vary so do talk to academics in your Department and research area.

 

 

 

 

Just finished your PhD?

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📥  Advice, For PhDs, Tips & Hints

We're seeing quite a few people at the moment who have recently finished their PhD thesis or are close to finishing. If that's you, you're probably exepriencing a range of emotions, which will vary according to the time of day, your caffeine levels and how many times in the last twenty-four hours someone has asked you when you will be finishing. We see people in various states of blearly-eyed exhaustion, relief, and uncertainty about the future. It's vital to manage your stress levels and to seek help from a range of sources (friends, family, supervisors, the University Health and Wellbeing Service). Questions about 'what's next' will almost certainly be in your mind, and people manage these in different ways, perhaps setting aside a little time each day or each week (perhaps not at the most optimimum time for thesis writing) to look for jobs and plan your career next steps. I read a helpful article a few months ago on the benfits of having a 'Career Exit Strategy'; a short term plan to get you through the period immediately following a PhD thesis or research contract which can help pay the rent, build experience and give you some thinking time while you plan your longer-term career strategy.

If you are in the final stages of your PhD and are confused about your career direction, try asking yourself:

What kinds of activities motivate and energise me?

Where/how does work fit with the other aspects of my life?

Which aspects of my PhD (if any) do I want to take in to the future? (Think broadly here; the Researcher Development framework can help you identify the wide range of skills you've gained throughout your PhD). Think of all the people you've interacted with throughout your thesis, and how.

If I want to continue in research, what does 'research' mean to me? (working in a lab, analysing data, literature searching, conducting interviews? Where and how might my research be useful?

Do I want to use my subject? In what ways? Why or why not?

Do I want to live in any particular geographical area? If so, what work opportunities are available in that area? Our jobhunting by UK region webpages will be useful here.

Here's how we can support you as a Careers Service if you are finishing or have just finished your PhD:

- an impartial, confidential listening ear. Sometimes it's enough to articulate the contents of your brain to someone else. Careers advisers are trained listeners who work in a non-judgemental framework.

- talking through your options, whether you have a clear idea of where you want to go next or no idea at all. We can help you clarify what you want from a job and create effective plans for next steps. Book a guidance appointment .

- support with identifying the most appropriate job-seeking strategies for areas that interest you. Our vacancies web page for researchers has some links that will be of interest. Our Finding a Graduate Job guide also has lots of useful advice on job search strategies, networking and speculative applications. Our in-house MyFuture vacancy database includes a section specifically for PhDs.

- support with creating effective CVs, covering letters and applications for jobs inside and outside of academia. Book a Quick Query appointment for one-to-one feedback, and check out our web advice on marketing yourself, and the researcher CV examples on the Vitae website.

- support with interview preparation and practice interviews. Check out the Vitae website and the Manchester Aacademic Careers website for advice and sample questions for academic jobs. If your next step will be a postdoc, check out our guide to How to Find a postdoc.

- a wealth of information resources on career options; our careers web pages for researchers have discipline-specific advice, and information on what previous Bath PhD graduates have gone on to do. The Graduate Prospects Occupational Profiles, Beyong the PhD, and the Vitae researcher career case studies also provide examples and inspiration.

Your access to the Careers Service doesn't end when you submit; you can register with us as a graduate for indefinite access.

Finally, once the sleepless nights have come to an end, go for a walk or take a hot bath and remind yourself of what it was that inspired/motivated you about the thesis - you might need to communicate that enthusiasim to an employer sometime soon...

 

First Year PhD - too early to plan for your future?

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📥  Career Choice, Career Development, For PhDs

I was running the Careers Service stand at the University Induction sessions for new research postgraduates. While waiting eagerly for conversations with keen new researchers, my ear caught the following comment from someone walking by: 'Careers? It's a bit early, isn't it?' Ever since, the question 'Is the first year of a PhD too early to be thinking about your career?' has been buzzing round in my head. Typically for someone with an academic background in Arts and Humanities, the conclusion I've reached is yes...and no.

Realistically, PhD researchers come and see us in the Careers Service at all stages of their doctorate, and we will never turn you away or tell you off because 'you should have thought about this earlier'. It's a reasonable point in many ways to suggest that the first few months of a PhD need to be spent settling in to the research and getting to know supervisors and collaborators. However, here are a few reasons why it can be beneficial to engage with your own career development sooner rather than later:

1. Setting a clear line between the present and the future can be a false distinction. In workshops with researchers I've started doing a 'time line' activitiy which aims to help people see how past activities, events and achievements can impact on current behaviour and future descisions. Right from first year, you will be engaging in many activities - the research itself, skills training, outside interests - that will contribute to your career development. All you need to do is consciously articulate - to yourself, friends, supervisors, a careers adviser - what you have learned/developed/achieved and what this means to you. Our Career Planning Timeline suggests career development activities you can be doing right from first year. Many of them are very small steps.

2. For many people, thinking about their career is a process rather than a one-off descision. Starting to consider career options early gives you more space and freedom to have a think, do some research into opportunities, build your networks, and allow some doors to close and your feelings and life circumstances to change. Choosing not to think about 'what next' until the last few weeks of your PhD can lead to panic at a time when you're probably panicking anyway.

3. Thinking about career planning early gives you the opportunity to build experience. A circular argument in some ways - as noted above, you are engaging in career development as you participate in research and other activities. Do make the most of your doctoral experience (and I know the research itself is time-consuming) to engage in a range of activities, such as internships, work shadowing, volunteering, entrepreneurship competitions, consultancy and public engagement, which builds your skills and networks.

4. You're probably thinking about it anyway. Those thoughts of 'What am I going to do after the PhD?' can creep in at unexpected moments. Sometimes (particularly in the middle of an experiment) it's best to push them away, at other times it's best to roll with them and take action. Turn anxiety into proactivity.

5. You're not alone. The Careers Service provides tailored support for research postgraduates, including a wealth of web resources just for you, workshops and 1:1 support.

Next time you see me on a stand, come and have a chat!