I've just finished reading Vitae's newly-published report on where postdoctoral research staff go when they leave academia. The report is based on a largely qualitative survey of researchers' career paths and experiences on leaving academic research posts, and includes insights into how people made decisions around whether to leave and what to do next, how they adjusted to new cultures and environments, what they find satisfying about their new roles and what they miss about academia.
Now, as I've been reading the report I've been thinking constantly about how some of these ideas and data can input into my own thinking, workshops and the ways I support our research staff here at Bath. But, useful as this report is for people like me, the primary intended audience is the current postdoctoral research community, so I've also been asking myself the question, 'how can research staff use this report?'
Given that you probably don't have the time or inclination to wade through forty-nine pages, here are some quick thoughts as to how you can make use of this report:
- scan through the sections on 'Making the transition' and 'Advice to other researchers' sections (pp.12-17). Read any sub sections that grab your attention. Notice the practical and emotional challenges people faced in moving into new roles and contexts and how they dealt with these.
- gather some data and insights into roles and sectors you might want to explore further. There are short sections of the report with overviews of popular sectors with research staff, namely research outside of HE, research policy and administration, professional roles in HE, public engagement and science communication, teaching, writing and publishing, and 'other' occupations including business analysts, financial economists and patent attorneys.
- look at sample job titles and possible employers within sectors of interest.
- Check out the 'competencies old and new' section within each sector overview to get a sense of how researchers used their existing skills in a new context and which skills they needed to develop.
- Read the mini case studies to find out how people find their new roles and what helped them make the transition.
- Full case studies are available on the Vitae website.
- Many of these case studies include a link to the person's LinkedIn profile. Use this to see where they have worked, what experience they built up, which groups they are part of (so you can join groups relevant to sectors of interest) and how you might be connected to them. See if you have any mutual connections and ask them to introduce you.
- Have a think about how you can develop skills and knowledge within your current role
- Research sectors and roles of interest further using our web pages for researchers, Bath Connection, and a one-to-one chat with the Researcher Career Development Adviser.