Career options for doctoral students and research staff

Posted in: Career Choice, For PhDs

 Exciting news ... in May we're piloting our first ever Researcher Careers month, packed full of panel events and webinars aimed at giving you insights into the vast array of career options open to you and opportunities to network with other researchers, employers and researcher alumni. The focus of this week is on career options for researchers. We have panel events on Careers beyond Academia, co-organised with our GW4 colleagues, and moving between industry and academia. We also wanted to share some brief tips and brief tips and key resources to help get you started with thinking through the best career options for you.


Career options for you....

In some ways summarising the career options open to you is a risky business; very few things are off-limits, and the most crucial question is often what do you want to do with your doctoral or postdoctoral research experience rather than what can you do. Nevertheless, there are some resources that summarise common careers sectors of interest to researchers and ways in to mapping out your options:

Careers Service video on career options for researchers  - short video giving an overview of possible career options and ways in to choosing the right career for you

Information for researchers on the Careers Service website - Faculty-specific information on options you could consider

Birmingham PGR career explorer - very useful resource from the University of Birmingham with detailed overviews of the main sectors open to PhD holders

Options for STEM PhDs - lovely blog post on how you can 'use' your STEM PhD in career options

Career stories of other researchers - one of the best ways to discover where you can apply your researcher skillset in the labour market is to see where other researchers have gone and how they've got there. We list a few of our favourite sets of career stories in our Get Started Guide for researchers

... and how to choose the right one.

There are different ways to choose a career. One of the most important things to remember is that you don't necessarily have to narrow down to just one option; for most of us, I suspect there's a range of things we'd be suited to and satisfied in. If you have got a few different ideas in mind and are finding that hard to navigate, try to identify any common themes or patterns between the options. 

I'm in the process of choosing an outfit for a couple of summer weddings. Admittedly not quite on the same level as choosing a career, but there are similarities in that a particular dress has caught my eye for other other reason than I like the look of it. We can't always clearly articulate why a particular option appeals to us. If I pause and think about it though, there are a few things I had in mind before I started shopping for wedding outfits: the price, the colour, the fact it's not too fussy and could realistically be worn at other events too. Have a go at creating a 'shopping list' of some of the things you'd like as part of a career - this could be activities you'd like to have as part of a typical working day, how close the role is to your research area, the type/size of organisation you'd like to work for, working hours, geographical location or opportunities to 'make a difference' in your career. Get your criteria in priority order and work out which ones you'd be willing to dispense with.

To map out the options you're willing to consider, you could use some of the resources above, explore roles available in different sectors using TargetJobs or Prospects, or brainstorm jobs relating to themes that interest you, such as working in healthcare, sustainability, jobs that use creativity. If you want to use your subject in your career, check out Prospects Options with your subject, and our helpsheets on areas of work relating to Bath subject areas. 

Another good way to get started with working out where you want to go next is to reflect on where you are now. How do you feel about what you do in a typical working week as a researcher? Which bits of 'now do you want to take into a future career? Or which aspects of any previous professional experience? Take ten minutes each day to reflect on what you enjoy and are good at - it may be that some of those things could form the basis of your next career move. 

Of course, people often say that they didn't 'choose' their career pathway at all; more on this in another post this week ...


Posted in: Career Choice, For PhDs


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