Thinking about careers

In my experience, when it comes to careers, PhD students tend to fall into 3 camps: those who definately want to be an academic, those who definately want to do something else, and those who haven’t got a clue. So the real question is if you’re in category 2 or 3, how do you decide what to do?

Well, firstly, it might be useful to do a skills audit to help you to identify what skills you have and how to put these down in your CV. The IAD website has some guidance and a template to help you get started with this: Skills Audit

Secondly, seek help from the Careers Service, particularly if you fall into camp number 2 and you know what that ‘something else’ is. For University of Edinburgh students, and alumni within 2 years of graduation, you can find more information at the Careers Service website. 

Thirdly, no matter what camp you fall into, consider attending a Reviewing Your Career workshop. There is a variety of information and courses available on the Doctoral section of the IAD website.

And remember, there are people all around you with interesting career stories so make time to ask people how they got to where they are now.

Next post: Procrastination and getting un-stuck…coming soon!

Fiona (Doctoral Training Manager, IAD)


Tips for Effective Networking

The term networking can conjure all sorts of images for people, but the truth of it is that networks provide you with colleagues to discuss your research ideas, potential collaborators, peer support to get you through the tough times, and contacts to help you find future jobs. So you might as well make the most of the potential contacts around you. Here are our top tips:

  1. Have your contact information available to give people – consider having business cards ready.
  2. Be aware of your body language – if you are, like me, someone who doesn’t find networking very easy, this can sometimes mean that your body language will give you away, even without you being aware of it. So if you are at an event, make an effort to stand up tall, smile and make eye contact.
  3. Have a plan – if you are attending a conference, try to get hold of a delegates list before the event so that you know who you want to make contact with while you are there.
  4. Have a question ready to get conversation flowing.
  5. Split up – force yourself to leave the comfort of your friends group and make new contacts.
  6. Go for it…if you are at an event or conference, thats what you are there for.
  7. Have a strategy ready for how to leave a conversation.
  8. Keep a note of interesting people or ideas to follow up on afterwards.
  9. Networking can happen anytime (not just at events) so be sociable.
  10. Don’t leave an event too early.

For more information and suggestions on where to get started, look at the Networks and Forums pages on the IAD website.

Next post: Thinking about careers…coming soon!

Fiona (Doctoral Training Manager, IAD)