Career support

PhD Career workshop, IRB, Barcelona 2017

CAREER SERVICES & SUPPORT

As an independent career consultant, specialising in offering support to PhD students and early career researchers, I organise and deliver career workshops and offer one-to-one career interviews depending on the needs of the individual or group.

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).
Organisations: American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), Biochemical Society, European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), Naturejobs.
Doctoral Training Parternship: Triforc, Food Security, TRAIN-ASAP, Cells in Motion

The following list is a selection of some of the career workshops the SEB delivers. They can be run individually or put together to form a longer programme (from 2-3 hours up to 3 days):

1. SELF LEADERSHIP

Self-awareness is a key characteristic of high performers and is a key factor in realising a successful career. In this workshop, 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. INDIVIDUAL CAREER COACHING/CV CHECKING 

This more intensive one-to-one interaction (usually 30 mins to 1 hour per person) gives individuals the opportunity to reflect and discuss their career plans with me. As a qualified careers adviser who specialises in helping PhD students and researchers, I can offer you guidance with your career direction, support you in writing your CV or preparing for interview and direct you to useful sources of information.  To get in touch, email me or contact me via LinkedIn.   ________________________________________________________________

What previous participants 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.” (Career choices)

“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.” (Raising Self-awareness + Recognising skills session).

“I really enjoyed the pre-conference event. A lot of thought was put in the different exercises. Especially when people do not know any other participants such an event is very useful and a good start for the conference event.” (Networking session)

“Very well organised and was very positive and helpful. A confidence booster and would recommend every PhD student to attend this workshop.” (Raising Self-awareness + Recognising skills + CV workshop)

“It was a great networking event, much more relaxed than a scientific meeting. Good to meet people of other disciplines.” (Raising Self-awareness + Recognising skills + CV workshop)

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For more information contact s.blackford@lancaster.ac.uk

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