18th December 2017: Christmas is coming and, at times like this, many of us are looking forward to exchanging gifts. We will have been out shopping for suitable presents for our loved ones and angsting over what will suit them in terms of the perfect gift – something practical, maybe an ‘experience’, perhaps something quirky, edible or perfumed.
As much as we differ in our preferences for gifts, so we differ in our personal gifts; that is, our talents and what we are good at. Qualifications such as a PhD are both an asset and an obstacle when it comes to career decisions. Whilst you want to feel that your PhD is giving you an advantage, it can also act as a disadvantage and even an obstacle to free-thinking about your career possibilities. It can get in the way of considering your gifts, talents and skills, the essence of ‘you’ and what you feel passionate about. Sure, you may be someone for whom research is your ‘calling’, but for others it may be science communication, science policy, science business or perhaps a non-science career that “floats your boat”.
For me, it became clear very early on in my scientific career that practical, functional science was the antithesis of my ‘gift’ and that communication and empathy, intuition and people were where my talents lay. Hence, I’m now a PhD careers adviser with a penchant for science communication! So what about you? What are your gifts? Cast your mind back and remember what your career ambitions were when you were younger. Weave this into your career decision making, think more widely about your essential skills, interests, personality and values. The Science Council identified 10 types of scientist which will guide you in your reflection and my PhD Career Choice Indicator may also help you to think beyond your qualification, not forgetting other resources such as personality assessment tools and books such as ‘Gifts Differing’.
Have a great Christmas break and all best wishes for 2018!