Who can I talk to about my career?

Posted in: For PhDs

When I shared a previous post about career planning for first year PhD researchers on a LinkedIn group, someone requested a follow-up post on who researchers can talk to about their careers, apart from Careers Services. I completely agreed with the comment that effective career planning usually involves engagement with a range of people for the approriate information, advice, encouragement, networks and support. Here are some ideas for groups and people you can access for careers support:

1. Peers. Career planning and job-searching can be isolating businessess, and it can be useful to access others who are going through similar situations. If you're actively job searching, think about finding a 'buddy' who can hold you to goals you've set and motivate you to keep going in the face of setbacks. Attending departmental research seminars and researcher development training sessions can be good ways to meet other Bath researchers. It's also valuable to build connections with early career researchers outside of Bath. LinkedIn groups such as PhD Careers Outside of Academia and The PostDoc Forum will give you the opportunity to connect with researchers and professionals looking to make, or who have recently made, similar transitions to you. Questions around specific career options or advice on how to market yourself can be posted as discussion groups. Also check out relevant Twitter feeds such as ECR Chat and academic networking sites such as ResearchGate.

2. Alumni. An easy way to connect with Bath alumni working in fields or organisations that may interests you is through registering for the Bath Connection, a recently-launched database of Bath graduates who are happy to be connected by current students and research staff with questions about their career paths and areas of work; see our recent post on how to register and make the most of the Bath Connection. The Department of Alumni Relations also has a list of LinkedIn groups for Bath alumni.

3. Employers. We have lots of employers coming on to campus throughout the year; check out the events section on MyFuture to see who's coming soon.  Professional Bodies and Learned Societies often organise careers fairs, events and information sessions relevant to particular areas of specialism and career options. See Directory of the Professions for a list, and check out the web page for your discipline on the researchers section of our website. Connecting with employers via social media, whether by following companies that interest you on Twitter, or joining relevant groups on LinkedIn and posting your career questions as discussions topics, is also vital. Jisc Mail lists are another way to keep in touch with others in your field, and if you're interested in science communication, psci.com is a must.

4. Supervisors/academics. Hopefully this goes without saying if you're interested in a career in academia. Academics are busy people, so realistically you may need to take the initiative to open up a conversation about your career development. If you're a research postgraduate, opening up this conversation at key points in your doctorate, for example during an end-of-year review, can be a good way forward. If you're a member of research staff, your SDPR is an ideal time to have a conversation about your broader career development and goals. Make yourself visible by attending departmental research seminars and conferences, and ask for half an hour of someone's time to discuss your mutual research interests.

5. Mentors? There is a lot of discussion around the value of a mentor if you're trying to establish an academic career. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard is, rather than asking an academic to be your mentor, which can sound like another role in addition to the seventeen they already have, ask for permission to pick someone's brains occasionally. Most people will happily agree to this, especially if you throw in the offer of coffee.

6. As we noted in another post, blogs are a great way to open up a two-way conversation about people's experiences. This web page has a list of our favourite blogs written by early career academics and researchers who have transitioned outside of academia.

Our guide to accessing employers for researchers has more tips on effective networking and a brief list of career events relevant to you.



Posted in: For PhDs


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