UCL Careers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    If you are a researcher, we a specific blog for you.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

    Accurate at the time of publication
  • Want to contribute?

    Please read our Guest Blogger Policy

  • Science Communication and Science Policy Forum

    By S Donaldson, on 16 March 2018

    Did you come to our Careers in Science Communication and Science Policy forum earlier this month? No? Well fret not! You haven’t missed out because we’ve summarised the key points below.

    Who were the speakers?

    David Robson, a freelance writer and editor, previously at New Scientist and BBC Future, currently writing his first book THE INTELLIGENCE TRAP: Why Smart People Make Stupid Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them, which will be published in Spring 2019.

    Iain Dodgeon, Strategic Ventures Manager in the Wellcome Trust’s Public Engagement team, where he’s helped develop science-related entertainment in the form of games, TV, and films. Iain is a former medical doctor.

    Rose Gray, Senior Policy Advisor at Cancer Research UK. Rose is a UCL Chemistry alumnus, who built up a range of science communications experiences while studying, including working with Guerrilla Science.

    Sam Dick, a Science Information and Policy Officer at The Institute of Cancer Research, who completed his PhD in Structural Biology at UCL before moving into policy work via voluntary and internship roles at The National AIDS Trust and the Humsafar Trust in India.

    Aalia Kazi, an Account Manager at Incisive Health, a healthcare communications agency that focuses on policy and policy makers. Aalia is a UCL MSc Cardiovascular Science alumnus, who first joined Incisive Health as an intern after volunteering for Doctors of the World UK.

    And Jayne Hibberd, Associate Director at Galliard Healthcare Communications, whose role focuses on global communications strategies for her clients. As Associate Director, Jayne helps shape the future direction and day-to-day business of the agency.

    What do they like about working in Science Communications and Science Policy?

    Everyone agreed working with bright motivated people – whether they’re other communicators, scientists whose research must be communicated, or policy makers being communicated to – was one of the best things about working in these two sometimes overlapping sectors. Jayne values the insight she gains into her pharmaceutical company agency clients driving exciting scientific developments. As a popular science writer, David especially enjoys working with art departments of magazines on displaying stories effectively.

    Many felt being attached to science, which most of the panellists studied at university, was a draw, as were daily tasks of writing and crafting arguments, and the variety of scientific topics covered by both those communicating to the public and to policy makers. Iain mentioned working for an organisation like Wellcome, which is independent from government and commercial pressures, is liberating.

    Aalia, Rose, and Sam agreed that knowing their policy work influences real changes that impact real people’s lives is one of the best things about their jobs. Rose gave the example of having reports she’s worked on read by the secretary of state, and seeing beneficial legislation passed in part as a result.

    What are the worst bits?

    The variety of topics covered can have a downside, potentially leading to overload and stress. The hours can sometimes be long, and working late occasionally means cancelling social plans. Though the hours and deadlines seemed more of an issue for those working with clients, they were also mentioned by David when he’s scheduling interviews with researchers overseas outside of working hours due to time differences. David also commented that getting negative feedback on your writing from editors can be very tough at first, so you need to develop a thick skin.

    Aalia and Jayne have clients, and though they both value working with them, they acknowledged it can also be demanding, a bit like having multiple bosses. The client-focused nature of the work also means they both have to account for their time very precisely in order to bill clients, a different way of doing things to the other speakers.

    For those in policy, the flip side of the rewards gained when important change is effected is that it can be frustrating when something you’re passionate about doesn’t work out, or when change is only incremental. Additionally, the work is dictated in part by political whims rather than simply by the science.

    Will getting a science communication or policy qualification help you get in?

    None of the speakers had one of these qualifications so clearly it’s not a prerequisite! Those in science communication mentioned that the qualification can be a great way to build networks which may be valuable, but that the science communication world is fairly small so you can build useful networks through your working life without the qualification too. Rose commented that having a policy qualification shows motivation, but in her team at CRUK relevant policy work experience is likely to be prized above a qualification. And some people undertake a policy qualification after already working in the sector for a while in order to get maximum value from the experience.

    Any tips for those wanting to enter the sector?

    The overwhelming advice from the panel was to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Even if you don’t know where it will lead. This reflected the speakers’ career paths. Whether it was Iain leading a comedy group and securing funding for a film-making course while at university, Rose working in a hospital alongside her study and learning she didn’t want to be a medic but she did want to influence change over the NHS, or Sam volunteering in policy and outreach during his PhD and realising this was the work he enjoyed the most, all of the speakers had stories of taking a punt on something they thought looked interesting without necessarily having a ‘career plan’ in mind. In retrospect their narratives make sense, fitting together nicely into a career story. But none of them knew that at the time. They simply tried stuff, learning about themselves and the working world in the process.

    The panel also advised reaching out to people. Most will be happy to tell you about their experiences and offer advice, some may even be able to give you a job. Jayne in particular shared that she would be impressed by the motivation of someone who was proactive enough to contact a professional and show an interest in their work.

    For aspiring journalists, David extolled the virtues of starting a writing career in a small industry publication or local newspaper as a way of creating a portfolio and getting valuable feedback on your writing. He also advised being bold and pitching story ideas to publications like New Scientist who are always looking for great feature ideas. And if a pitch gets accepted, ask to be paid.

    And finally, Rose recommended visiting UCL Careers. In her words, Rose “absolutely rinsed” us when she was exploring her career options, and found our help very useful.

    Life & Health Sciences Week: Resources for Careers in Health

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 7 March 2016

    With Life & Health Sciences Week beginning today, make sure you’re aware of the online resources at your disposal to help you learn more about careers in this sector.

    The team behind Life & Health Sciences week is highlighting Health Careers as a superb new resource that you should absolutely check out:

    Health Careers is a new website which provides information about roles in all areas of healthcare including medicine, dentistry, the allied health professions, mental health and public health.  As well as detailed information about the wide variety of roles within health, the site also provides career planning tools, role comparisons and case study videos.  This is a fantastic resource for anyone considering a career in health.

    Make sure you’re also familiar with the ‘Prospects’ Careers Website, for an extensive list of occupational profiles, includes day to day job information, entry requirements and long term career prospects / pathways.

    Life and Health Sciences Week begins Monday 7th March

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 2 March 2016

    The Life and Health Sciences Themed Week begins next week! If you have not already signed up to come to any of the events, do so… now! Events are already well over half-full.

    Meet representatives from KPMG, Adaptix Imaging, Bioline and Biotronics 3D at the Biotechnology panel on Tuesday; UBC, GSK, Galliard & Nyxeon, and One Nucleus will be attending the panel on pharmaceutical careers on Wednesday; and Thursday’s Public Health panel sees invited speakers from the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement, a researcher with UCL and Novo Nordisk and a representative from the Greater London Authority’s Health team.

    If you don’t really know what kind of job you’d like in the Life and Health sciences, then attending our seminar looking at the variety of career options and how to find them, on Wednesday at lunchtime is a must.

    Find out more here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/lifehealthsciences.

    Industry Insights from Biotech and Pharmaceutical Careers

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 12 December 2014

    On 26 November 2014, UCL Careers brought together a panel of industry professionals to talk about their careers, share advice for students and graduates hoping to get into the Biotech and Pharmaceutical field.

    Linsey Chrisman, has written a selection of their key insights and advice. The panel were:

    • Dr Jane Bentley, Executive Director Project Management & Global Oncology Operations Lead, Worldwide Clinical Trials / Institute of Clinical Research
    • Richard Bolton, Service Owner, IT Director, GlaxoSmithKline
    • Adam Manhi, Assistant Manager, Healthcare & Life Sciences, KPMG Life and Health Sciences
    • Tony Ring, Operations Manager, Abbott Diabetes Care

    What’s happening in the industry?

    • It is an unstable time in the industry with companies reluctant to commit to long term spending and hiring on temporary contracts. Most of the hiring that’s happened at Tony’s facility in the past year has been on temporary contracts. Roughly a third of temporary hires get permanent jobs with the company.
    • Big pharma companies are shrinking the number of people they employ directly in the UK. Increasing amounts of work, including research and development, is being contracted out. Many jobs are still there – but they are in the smaller organisations which have contracts with big pharmaceutical companies, not in the big companies themselves.
    • Many small biotech companies are ‘virtual ‘, ie. a few founders without physical office space or a lab, and contract lab work out to other organisations. This might be contract research organisations or just organisations that have lab facilities, such as research institutes and universities.

    Ways to get in

    • Companies in this sector are often looking for graduates to work in IT. This can be a way in to other roles.
    • Work in manufacturing can be a way in to roles in Research and Development and Quality Assurance.
    • Many companies use agencies to hire temporary staff. Research recruitment agencies that work with this sector, register and keep in touch with agencies proactively.
    • Contract research organisations often take on staff to help compile reports for regulators. These positions may not be advertised, so consider applying to organisations speculatively or registering with recruitment agencies.
    • Don’t get hung up on graduate schemes! There are very few in this sector. No one on the panel had ever done a graduate scheme. They all built experience in a combination of internships and temporary entry level jobs before getting into the job they were aiming for.

    What are the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?

    • There are regulatory changes on the horizon. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) is expected to start requiring all of the raw data from clinical trials to be supplied to them in set formats. The UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) and other regulatory bodies are expected to follow suit. It could be resource intensive to get the data to conform to mandated formats and companies are concerned about the costs.
    • Richard said one of the biggest challenges he saw in the industry was that ‘it’s getting harder to know what you know’. In other words, research and clinical trials produce vast amounts of data, and it’s a big challenge to store and organise it in a way that’s meaningful and useful, not just to the team that produced it but to other people within the company and regulators.

    Please see the speaker profiles here. You can also get more information on this field on the Life and Health Sciences Week web page.

    – Linsey Chrisman, Information Officer, UCL Careers

    Life and Health Sciences Week is coming…

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 11 November 2014

    Life and Health Sciences Week is a week of events designed to help you find out more about opportunities in this sector, including information on routes in, how to gain valuable work experience and how to make effective applications.  Locations for each event will be provided when booking.

    Please Note: Events are popular and booking for each will close when it is fully booked or, at the latest, 1 working day before the event. We recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.

    Book now: Log in to your My UCL Careers account to book a place at any of these events.

    Applications and CVs for Life and Health Sciences

    Monday 24 November 2014

    1 – 2pm

    Are you applying for jobs or courses in life sciences and want to stand out from the crowd? This talk will provide advice on how to write effective CVs, covering letters, motivation statements and answer tricky application form questions.

     

    A Career in Medicine

    Monday 24 November 2014

    5:30 – 7pm

    Are you considering applying to medicine as a graduate? Get advice from doctors, medical students, medical schools admissions managers and careers advisors. The event will begin with a brief talk on medical training and the career paths of doctors after medical school. Then there will be a panel discussion, with opportunities to have your questions answered by the panel.

     

    Careers in Public Health

    Tuesday 25 November 2014

    5:30 – 7:30pm

    Want to get some key tips about how to break into this competitive sector? Meet a panel of experts from areas including public health policy, health protection and surveillance, and advocacy and communications. The panel discussion will be followed by a networking event. Speakers confirmed include Anthony Nolan Trust, Global Alliance for Chronic Disease, Results UK and the Stroke Association.

     

    Biotech and Pharmaceutical Careers

    Wednesday 26 November 2014

    5:30 – 7pm

    Interested in working in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry and want to find out more? Come to this event to hear directly from professionals working in industry, discussing their career paths, ways to get into this area, and how to progress your career.

    There will be a panel discussion followed by an opportunity to network informally. Panellists will include representatives from KPMG Life Sciences Consulting, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Diabetes Care, and the Institute of Clinical Research.

    Book now: Log in to your My UCL Careers account to book a place at any of these events.

    Life Science and Health Sector: Employer Fair and one-to-one sessions for PhDs and Researchers

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 28 May 2014

    The aim of this event is to help PhD and other research students with their career planning by providing an opportunity to meet employers from the Life Science and Health sector.

    Monday 9th June – 11:00am to 1:00pm for fair, 2:00pm to 4:00pm for one-to-one sessions

    Venue: North Cloisters for fair, Wilkins Haldane Room for one-to-one sessions

    The event will begin with an intimate fair which will have a few select organisations. Many of the employers present will be PhD holders themselves. The fair will be followed by one-to-one sessions that will allow you to discuss any questions you might have in further detail with a specific employer on a one on one basis.

    In order to allow you to get as much as possible out of this event, please research the organisations thoroughly. Please see the Graduate School website for further information about the organisations and representatives who have PhDs as well as how you can book a one on one appointment with an employer: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2234

    PhD students can book a place via the following link :

    http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2234

    Research Staff can book a place via the following link : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/signupform/