A new year’s resolution for PGRs…. start planning your career!

New-Year_ResolutionsIn the olden days a postdoc could expect a job for life in academia, possibly working his or her way through a logical academic career progression, right up to a professorship. But sadly, in the 2010s, this could turn out to be a career path limited to the very few and, arguably, the lucky! Of course, there are always those who do not wish for a career in academia and, for them, the outside world beckons with a plethora of jobs and career paths which are as diverse as the postdocs applying for them.

London cityA Times Higher Education article, published just before Christmas, points out that a PhD alone may not be enough. Picking up transferable skills from training opportunities, broadening experience and knowledge, increasing experience of team working and leadership and the ability to assess and promote one’s own achievements will all help to construct the highly transferable CV that non-academic employers are looking for.

THE logoThe Times Higher article, “Dispel illusion of PhDs leading to jobs for life, says Royal Society“, highlighted the fact that there are “far more PhD students in training than there are faculty positions for them to fill”. Even a report by Vitae back in 2010 showed that about 60% of researchers ended up working outside of Higher Education. Put simply, Universities are no longer the future workplaces for most researchers.

Professor Athene Donald heads a Royal Society Working Group which has published guidelines on doctoral careers development. In her blog, Expectations for All, she suggests that “doing a PhD is not an automatic passport to a lifetime in academia” She adds, “Few make it. So, it is vital that students pick up other skills, look to broaden their CVs and gain a breadth of experience during their PhD’s – and that they are facilitated, not obstructed, when they try to do so. Failing to gain such skills means they may not be well-placed to find jobs outside academia.”

mature students photoUN doctoral research students, I have a compelling new year’s resolution for you. Why not follow the advice of the Royal Society and start preparing for your career now? By broadening your experience and by picking up as many transferable skills as possible whilst you study at UN makes perfect sense. Make 2015 the year that you consider your future postdoc career and soak up appropriate skills workshops and development activities.

Graduate School WorkshopsWe have many workshops coming up, including “Marketing Yourself Effectively” on Weds 4th February. Run by our Head of Employability and Careers, Lynn Finn, the workshop will help you compile an academic or non-academic CV, and includes advice on covering letters and application forms. Lynn is also available for careers 1-1s so just email her for advice. Watch out also for a new workshop on non-academic careers, to be scheduled in the summer. If you would like a 1-1 on Skills Analysis and Continuing Professional Development Planning please contact Simone.

Happy new year to you all. Remember to keep your resolutions!

About Simone Apel

Researcher Developer for The Graduate School, University of Northampton.

Posted on January 5, 2015, in News, Researcher careers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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