Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: science careers

Alternatives to Grad Schemes and Public Sector Grad Schemes

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📥  Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

Just a quick note today in response to some comments from students that all the jobs being advertised are for business roles. It is not strictly true as MyFuture carries many opportunities with a wide range of employers.  We strongly recommend that you look our two job hunting guides:

Public Sector Graduate Schemes

There are some great public sector schemes either open or about to open some of which are already in MyFuture:

Civil Service Fast Stream (various different streams) open now closing date 30th November
National Graduate Development Programme (local government) opens 24 October 2016 and close on 11 January 2017
Frontline (working with vulnerable children and families) closes 21st November
NHS Graduate Scheme (four different schemes) Opens in around 11th October closes early December
Think Ahead ( fast track scheme for mental health social work) closes 1st December
Teach First (Teach First Leadership Development Programme) closes 30th June 2017
Imperial College London's Graduate Management Training Scheme closing date 30th October 2016
Ofcom Graduate Scheme 2017 closing date Jan 3rd 2017
Health and Social Care Information Centre Graduate Scheme ran in 2016 and opened in February, no information yet if the scheme is running this year.
IntoUniversity Trainee Graduate Education Worker closes 7th January 2017

Charity Sector

Check out Careers in the Charity Sector on Moodle for resources.

Two Grad schemes open at the moment:

EVENT: Working in the Not for Profit/Charity Sector - 2 Bath Alumina stories
1-Dec-2016 at 1:15 - 2.05 pm We have invited two Bath alumni to come and talk to you. One has a senior role in a national charity and the other is part of the CharityWorks Graduate Scheme.

Graduate Jobs other than Grad Schemes

Whilst many employers come to Bath to recruit our students there are many other areas of work that graduates can work in which have alternative or less visible ways of recruiting. Our Careers Advisers have produced a series of information sheets to help students with some of these areas. They can all be downloaded from the information resources section of our website:

  • Alternative careers in science
  •  Careers for modern linguists
  •  Careers for those studying economics
  • Careers in biosciences & pharmaceuticals
  • Careers in medicine, dentistry & allied health
  • Careers in scientific analysis and R&D
  • Careers in sport
  • International development, international organisations and international relations careers
  • Politics careers, including working in Westminster and Europe
  • Social policy, social sciences and sociology careers
  • Working in the charity sector


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




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

Beyond the Lab: Developing your Industrial Biotechnology Career



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.


PhD to publishing....two Science alumni share their stories

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📥  For PhDs, Sector Insight

I was recently invited to the Faculty of Science Career Pathways event. These are held regularly, and involve a couple of past Bath Science Graduate School alumni coming back in to talk about their career paths so far.
The theme of this event was scientific publishing. Now of course, this is a subject all PhD students know only too well, from the reader's and also the writer's perspective. So how would it be to get a job in the sector and attain  the perspective of....The Editor?


Darran Yates, Chief Editor, Nature reviews Neuroscience

Darran Yates did both his MBiochem and PhD here, graduating in 2003, and then completed 2 postdocs in neuroscience. Towards the end of his second postdoc he started to lose his love for lab science and, wanting something still in science but more stable, he explored careers in publishing.

He found a job as Associate Editor for Nature Reviews Neuroscience, a clinically-focused journal carrying reviews, editorials, opinion pieces and news stories. After doing that for 2 years, he secured his present job: Chief Editor for Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

His job involves a mix of the following:

  • identifying subjects for future articles, and potential authors for them
  • doing research into current issues and trends to identify potential articles
  • providing feedback on synopses
  • 'macroediting' - does a draft fit the brief, does it make sense, is it brief enough?
  • co-ordinating peer review
  • making decisions on revised manuscripts (focus, clarity, language)
  • signing off articles
  • writing research highlights
  • conferences - he attends at least one a month and there is lots of travel and networking involved
  • projects: themed issues etc
  • staff and publication management responsibilities

So, as you can see, the job is really varied and there is a lot to balance.

How could you get into a similar job?

To get into an Associate Editor's job, you would normally need a PhD at least, although a Masters degree and industry experience might suffice. The rationale behind this is they want their editors to understand the journal process from the writer's side.

He also said that there were a wide variety of roles available within Nature Publishing Group - again, more of that later.


Emily Skinner, Publishing Ethics Specialist, RSC

The second speaker was Emily Skinner, who also did her undergraduate and PhD degrees here, although in Chemistry. She is now a Publishing Ethics Specialist at the Royal Society of Chemistry.

As she progressed through her PhD, as well as experimental science, she published a couple of papers. She found she really enjoyed the challenge of translating the results into a paper and making it read well and of a high enough standard to get published. Other non-lab things she enjoyed were organising conferences and science communication.

So, come the end of her PhD, she realised that a career in lab science was not actually what she wanted, and she explored careers in the things that had drawn her during her PhD. When she came across the RSC as an employer rather than a learned society, she was pleasantly surprised at the breadth of opportunities on offer.

The Publishing Editor role she applied for, and obtained, is a really interesting role and open to graduates, postdocs and career changers, so less strict criteria than NPG - although having the PhD definitely gave her an advantage.

In this role, she was trained in

  • peer review processes
  • technical editing and proofing (how to help authors with poor English, line-by-line editing, working on style, content, 'understandability')
  • journal co-ordination
  • working with Associate Editors and the Editorial Board

She said it is totally different from a PhD - but it is a refreshing change, as at the end of the week there is a feeling that a lot has been achieved!

Following a year as the Editor in charge of training the new intake of Publishing Editors, Emily has now moved into a newly-created role as Publishing Ethics Specialist.

As this is a new role, it is constantly evolving and she is really enjoying the challenge this brings. However, the main tasks she is involved with at the moment are:

  • promoting ethical publishing practices
  • collaborating with Editors to set policy
  • Maintaining integrity of the scientific record
  • Liaising with universities to resolve potential misconduct cases

As with NPG, there are many and diverse roles available for PhD students and research staff looking to move into publishing, including the senior roles of Publisher (who runs the whole Journals department) and Editor-in-chief (responsible for a portfolio of journals).


After their talks, there was a lively Q&A session. I've put summary information, and combined information to avoid repetition, but there were some useful extra points:


What kind of experience is helpful to get into publishing?

For both organisations, a PhD was really helpful although it is possible that a Masters and several years of industrial experience might be useful for some publications. It is, as you would expect, beneficial to have experience of writing. In general this is preferred to be via having written publications, although science writing and/or blogging about related issues is also useful experience.

What are the possibilities like for moving sideways, or for promotion?

Publishing is a very 'fluid' sector and there is a lot of scope for moving between publishing houses or within them. To some extent that is the only way to achieve promotion. It is a fairly 'young' profession, and has an even gender mix, almost tending to be female-dominated. There is definitely the possibility of international moves, or for travel within the job, as different journals can be based at different offices. Additionally, there are lots of maternity cover secondments, which are great for gaining experience in another position for a limited period of time.

What are the hours like, and the work-life balance?

There is definitely pressure, as the journals have fixed deadlines and these cannot be missed. However, the pressure comes from having several tasks that have to be done within a short space of time rather than any culture of having to work long hours. In fact, hours do no tend to be long, except for the senior posts who can find their job extends beyond a regular working day.


What can you do with a Science Degree?

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📥  Careers Resources, Sector Insight

This week the campus will be a hive of activity as the Bath Taps into Science events kick off.  The University is hosting a Family Talk and a Schools Fair on Campus. The week ends with a Family Science Day which will take place in the center of town in Bath.

The Careers team wanted to shine a spotlight on the wide range of opportunities that are open to Science grads both in and out of the lab. There are a variety of fascinating careers in science which combine analytical thinking with creativity. Whether you wish to solve the mysteries of the universe or want to work as a skeleton hunter; there is something to suit all interests.  There are also plenty of vacancies. The current science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills shortage means 39% of UK companies are still struggling to fill these roles. Similarly, there is a shortfall of women in science, with 87% of STEM jobs in the UK currently occupied by men.

A useful starting point is to explore the wide range of  careers pursued by University of Bath graduates. You may also want to explore career options with your degree subject on the TargetJobs and Prospects website. A science based degree will help you develop invaluable transferable skills making a wide range of alternative sectors a viable option. Finally the careers team here at Bath have put together a helpful careers guide for scientists. 


Science careers: options, job hunting and how to succeed!

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📥  Sector Insight

From audiologists to astrophysicists, there are a variety of fascinating careers in science which combine analytical thinking with creativity. Whether you wish to help patients learn to hear or solve the mysteries of the universe, there is something to suit all interests. There are also plenty of vacancies. The number of jobs for audiologists, for example, is expected to jump by 34% between 2012-22. And the current science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) skills shortage means 39% of UK companies are still struggling to fill these roles. Similarly, there is a shortfall of women in science, with 87% of Stem jobs in the UK currently occupied by men. So, if it is your dream to work in science and technology, what are your options? And what will you need to succeed?

Guardian Careers are hosting a live chat with the experts on Thursday 4 December from 1-3pm and will be discussing:

  • How to break into a career in science
  • The best ways to find and secure science jobs
  • How to encourage more women into science careers
  • How to build up your CV for a scientific career

For more information and to participate in the live chat visit the Guardian Careers website.