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.