As an independent career consultant, specialising in supporting PhD students and early career researchers, I design and deliver career development workshops and offer one-to-one career guidance interviews, depending on the needs of the individual or group. Career development can mean helping students and researchers to transition to their next position, whether within or outside of academia, through workshops such as writing a CV, interview technique or academic mobility. Training can also focus on personal effectiveness such as networking, communication skills, time management, assertiveness, decision making and negotiation skills.
Present and former clients include:
Universities: Aberystwyth (Wales), Antwerp (Belgium), Charles University (Prague), Copenhagen (Denmark), Goettingen (Germany), Lancaster (UK), Lyon, Nice (France), Southampton (UK), Vienna (Austria), Warwick, York (UK).
Research institutes: CEMM (Vienna), CiMS-IMPRS (Muenster), ETH Zurich, IGBMC (Strasbourg), John Innes Centre (UK), Karolinksa (Sweden), MDC (Berlin), Rothamsted Research (UK), Vienna Biocenter.
Organisations: American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), Biochemical Society, Microbiology Society, European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), Naturejobs.
Doctoral Training Parternship: Triforc, Food Security, TRAIN-ASAP, Cells in Motion, LIBRA, MIBTP.
The following list is a selection of some of the themes of my career support. Workshops can be adapted and delivered individually or put together to form a longer programme (from a half-day up to 3 days):
1. SELF LEADERSHIP
Self-awareness is a key characteristic of high performers and an important factor in realising a successful career. In this workshop, PhD students and researchers have the opportunity to examine their personality, behaviours, preferences, skills, strengths and weaknesses with the aim of improving their own performance, providing direction and making them more purposeful, as well as being better prepared for a leadership role.
2. MAKING EFFECTIVE CAREER CHOICES
Due to the competitiveness for tenured academic positions, the majority of PhD students and researchers need to consider careers outside of academia (see blog). But whether you are aiming for an academic or non-academic career, how do you know what types of posts or jobs will interest you? How do you find these jobs? And how can you enhance your chances of succeeding in your chosen profession? This workshop is structured using a practical career framework, which enables participants to identify their interests and skills, group them into categories and then match them with relevant and realistic job types. With resources and information on effective job seeking and personal development, the workshop provides comprehensive guidance on how to make effective career decisions and take a proactive approach to planning your next career move. There are resources and further information to take away at the end of the session.
3. CV and APPLICATIONS WORKSHOP
This workshop demonstrates the different ways in which postgraduates and postdoctorals can present themselves in an application or on a CV depending on the type of job they are applying for with the aim of increasing its impact and success. Three types of CV are presented: Academic, skills, targeted. This workshop is usually best presented following the ‘Recognising Skills’ session and/or a career coaching session. Examples of CVs are presented and contextualised using live job descriptions and bioscience-specific materials and resources. There is scope for the participants to send on their CVs to the tutor as a follow-up addition to this workshop.
4. INTERVIEW WORKSHOP
The CV and Applications workshop can be followed by a session on interview technique but requires one or two additional facilitators to run it effectively. It also requires that those participants who would like to volunteer to be interviewed bring copies of their CV to the workshop so additional preparation is required. It works even better if they can bring along a print-out of a real job that interests them or that they are intending to apply for. The time allocation for this workshop depends on how many interviews are carried out.
5. RECOGNISING SKILLS
This workshop aims to raise awareness of the range of skills postgraduates and postdoctorals acquire whilst undertaking their research activities so that they can express this more clearly in moving their career forward whether it is within academia or for an alternative career. Participants are grouped according to their career stage with 1st year postgraduates through to mature postdoctorals seated in groups. In this way similar roles and tasks are usually defined by the group and can then be translated into skill sets and personal qualities which can then be linked to a range of examples of live job descriptions. This workshop can be followed on by a CV and application workshop which will demonstrate how to set out personal information depending on the type of position being applied for.
6. RAISING SELF-AWARENESS
The aim of the session is to raise awareness to the participants of their personality similarities and differences. The workshop makes use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which assesses personality type following completion of a questionnaire (88 questions which takes about 30 minutes to complete). The personality profiles derived from this assessment illustrate different ways in which people prefer to organise themselves, take in information, make decisions and communicate. It has implications for day-to-day interactions, working style, communication, collaborations, networking, contributing to committee meetings, time management, analysing research results and direction, supervising students etc.
7. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND NETWORKING
This workshop aims to assist postgraduates and postdoctorals to network effectively and confidently at conferences, improve their presentation and communication skills. The session is structured to include varying interactions (twos, fours, eights), feedback and formal presentations on communication theory. This session works really well to raise awareness of the need to network and communicate effectively at conferences but also, as a result of all the interactions, allows participants to network, learn about each other’s work and promote possible interdisciplinary thinking and future collaborations. This workshop works well within departments and as a pre-conference session allowing postgraduates and postdoctorals from different groups/sessions to mix together and learn about each other’s research and to get to know each other at a social level.
8. ACADEMIC MOBILITY
Scientific research is an international endeavour and so mobility nearly always plays a part in the careers of researchers. Whether it is moving to another country to take up a fellowship or new post or even if it is a short visit to improve on professional skills and gain more experience, preparation is paramount. This workshop includes studies conducted on mobility, dual career couples, funding information, advice and strategies for those considering whether to stay or go.
9. “IN ROLE” CAREER COMPETENCIES
Along with leadership and self-awareness, other competencies such as assertiveness, time management, decision-making and negotiation skills can contribute to a person’s sense of greater personal control and confidence in their current role and for their future career aspirations. Improving career competencies such as these takes time and practice, and the purpose of the workshop is to introduce these skills and give participants the opportunity to spend time in a confidential training session learning about them and trying them out.
10. INDIVIDUAL CAREER COACHING/CV CHECKING
One-to-one career guidance interviews (usually 30 mins to 1 hour per person via Skype or in person) provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect and discuss their own career plans with me. As a registered professional of the Career Development Institute and qualified with a master’s degree in career guidance (Warwick University, UK), I use recognised guidance and coaching techniques to help people to clarify their current issues and challenges and enable them to work out what to do next to assist them with their career.
11. TRAINING PROFESSIONALS IN CAREER GUIDANCE
A qualified trainer, I also provide introductory training workshops on behalf of the Association of Graduates Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) to those who wish to provide career guidance in their own institutions.
What previous participants and clients have said:
“Excellent and informative – a useful framework for thinking about careers/jobs. Now changed the way I think about the jobs I’m applying for.”
“I just wanted to say again how helpful I found the conversation we had. I thought you were really insightful not just about the process of a PhD and what it takes to be an academic, but also about me as a person.”
“Thank you for organising this. It really feels like I have had a wake-up call! A lot of good advice and tips were given. Interactive exercises were excellent.”
“Very well organised and was very positive and helpful. A confidence booster and would recommend every PhD student to attend this workshop.”
“Thanks for your help with thinking about and preparing for the job interview I did earlier this year – I got the job! Meeting with you, and attending your interviews course were both really useful, and gave me more confidence in approaching both the application and the interview.”
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org