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

  • PhD Archaeology Student/Tutor at The Brilliant Club: Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 7 July 2015

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Vana Orfanou, Brilliant Club tutor and PhD student in Archaeology, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the academic sector. Vana Orfanou

    How did you get into your role?

    I am a PhD Archaeology student at my writing up stage and I also work as a Tutor in collaboration with The Brilliant Club. I first found out about this charity organisation through an email circulated by UCL calling PhD students to participate in a teaching programme focussing on non-selective state London schools and, then on, by visiting The Brilliant Club’s very well organised website.

    The idea of conducting university-style tutorials to underprivileged pupils, and promoting their research and essay writing skills which would in turn raise their aspirations and increase their chances of getting accepted in one of the top UK universities seemed quite appealing from the beginning. What is more, teaching with The Brilliant Club provided me with the exciting opportunity of designing and delivering a course on a topic immediately relevant to my research focus.

    What are the best things about working in your role?

    The best thing about working with the Brilliant Club is the interaction with the pupils itself. Only too often I am struck by students’ perceptions and interpretations, while interaction with each group of pupils is a unique experience. The high-standard content taught also provides a challenging ground for some amazing discussions to take place. Watching the students producing their own, well-structured and justified arguments is probably one of the most rewarding moments. As I said to my students in my last placement, ‘my Brilliant Club day was the best of my week’.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    Amongst the biggest challenges of being a Brilliant Club Tutor is communicating to pupils complex ideas by making them approachable at the same time. Keeping expectations high could prove a challenge as usually students have already enough on their plate.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    In becoming a Brilliant Club Tutor it is important that emphasis is put on teaching and creating knowledge rather than on merely presenting it. Excellent organisation and communication skills, and a drive to create opportunities for school students will definitely help!

    To talk to a Careers Consultant for further information on applying for a PhD, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

    Senior Research Executive: Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 29 June 2015

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Matthew Colahan, Senior Research Executive at Ipsos MORI, talks to us about how he got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into Research.

    How did you get into your role?Matt Colahan

    At the beginning of 2012 I was writing up my PhD in social psychology and considering moving outside of academia.  I wanted to stay in research and use the skills I had developed so I looked for research companies who had a strong social research background.  Ipsos MORI looked ideal and so I sent the Head of Qualitative Research an email introducing myself along with a copy of my CV.  I openly acknowledged that this was a “shot in the dark”, but I asked if she would be willing to meet me and tell me more about the work that Ipsos MORI were doing.  Fortunately she agreed, and we had a fruitful discussion (like an informal interview) where we talked about my experience and the nature of the work at Ipsos MORI.  This paved the way for the formal interview process, and two weeks later I had completed two interviews and was offered a full-time permanent position.

    What are the best things about working in your role?

    The variety of the work – both in terms of the topics and the methodologies used.  I work in the ‘Public Affairs’ section of the Social Research Institute at Ipsos MORI and most of our work is commissioned by the Government.  Public Affairs is therefore split into teams which broadly map onto the different government departments.  I’m based in the ‘Employment, Welfare, and Skills’ team so I tend to work on large scale quantitative employer surveys for clients such as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HM Revenue and Customs, and The Pension Regulator.  However, I have also worked with our ‘Health’ team for the NHS, and also our ‘Education, Children and Families’ team for the Department for Education.  In addition, I have undertaken lots of qualitative work and am also now involved in economic impact evaluation projects.  The opportunity is there to develop a huge range of skills and experience whilst working on projects that interest you.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

     Never enough hours in the day!  Project timetables can be challenging and the job can be very stressful at times when you’re facing tight deadlines.  Developing project management skills is essential in order to juggle the competing demands of the different projects you’re working on – these could be from a client, your project Director, or from internal operations teams who need input from you.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

     > Working in research requires a good understanding of theory and So know you research methods theory well, but also have an appreciation of the practical side of doing research (even if you haven’t done much yet).  There are a lot of very practical (sometimes seemingly mundane) steps that need to be completed in order to collect and analyse data (e.g. if you want to speak to certain people, where will you get their contact details from?).

    > Demonstrate times when you’ve displayed project management skills.  This could be from any part of your life – just a few examples where you have had to balance competing demands and systematically deal with them.

    > Speak to people.  When I worked at University I always encouraged my students to approach employers directly.  It might feel daunting, and it might not necessarily lead to a job, but it could get your foot in the door, and demonstrate that you’ve carefully considered a company and really want to work there.

    > Read some of the reports / publications that a research company has produced.  This is what you will be working on so show that you understand what they do.

    For more information on becoming a Researcher, visit Careers Tagged

     

    Brilliant Club tutor/PhD student in Experimental Psychology : Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 27 May 2015

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Lucia Weinber, Brilliant Club tutor and PhD student in Experimental Psychology, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the academic sector. MagisWeinberg

    How did you get into your role?

    I am a Brilliant Club tutor and a first year PhD student at the Experimental Psychology Department. I found out about the Brilliant Club via an email of the UCL Graduate School. The relevance and suitability of the Brilliant Club as a part-time position specially tailored for PhD students motivated me to learn more, which I did through their website. I sent my application and was invited to the assessment centre to do a mini-lesson. I have just finished my first placement working with KS4 students, an enriching and exhilarating experience.

    What are the best things about working in your role?

    My PhD revolves around understanding teenage brain development. However, I deal with this in a laboratory setting. Having first-hand experience with adolescents in a real life setting has positively informed my research questions and procedures. I aim to do research that has applications beyond theoretical inquiries, and I believe this experience has helped me to better orient my research.

    Working with students is stimulating and very fun! These interactions can be incredibly rewarding. Also, going into schools can be a welcomed break and change of setting once in a while. The programme is specially designed for PhD students and provides a flexible schedule and much of the work can be done from home or from the lab (i.e. planning the tutorials or marking). The Brilliant club is a meaningful way of engaging with the public and spreading the word about your research.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    I had little experience as a teacher for young students before starting. Designing my course and materials, specially tailored for a 15 year old audience, was a big challenge. Delivering lessons and making sure students understood and followed along was sometimes tricky. Extra work on top of a time-consuming PhD is also a challenge, and you need to develop time managing skills. Fortunately, the Brilliant Club really supports and trains the tutors, and they are always willing to help.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    In academia, most of us will find ourselves in front of a classroom at some point or other. I think the PhD is a perfect time to start developing teaching skills and didactic strategies. Don’t underestimate the challenge of teaching. There is widespread belief that being a research student automatically gives you the ability to talk about your research or teach. Even if we have been students for very long, there is a lot to learn in order to become an effective teacher. It is a good idea to explore teaching assistant roles to work with undergraduate students. Structured programmes such as the Brilliant Club provide a very useful scaffold to go beyond university students and reach different audiences.

    To talk to a Careers Consultant for further information on applying for a PhD, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

    PhD Student: Inspire Me

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 13 November 2014

    As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Claire Mawditt, PhD student at the department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL talks to us about how she decided to undertake a PhD and shares some tips for UCL students who may be considering further study.

    How did you get into your role?

    I trained as a mental health nurse initially and worked within a range of mental health settings for 7 years. I enjoyed the work but became frustrated at seeing the same problems occurring again and again (for example people struggling with money, family, stress, drug and alcohol use). I decided that I wanted to make a difference at a higher level and felt research was the way to do this. I started a Masters at University College London in Social Epidemiology and worked part-time as a research nurse in the NHS in order to fund my studies. I really enjoyed this time (2 years) and was excited by the prospect of changing people’s lives through research. That is when I decided to apply to undertake a PhD at UCL.

    What are the best things about working in your role? ucl-logo

    The best thing about my role is that I am in complete control of my research project and have the freedom to work when and where I want. The work I do is very interesting and I am learning new things every day. It is very rewarding and exciting to think that my research can influence health policy and change people’s lives.

    What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

    The biggest challenge is staying motivated, because I do not have anyone looking over my shoulder every day and telling me what to do. This means I have to manage my time well and cannot rely on anyone else to do my work for me. It is also difficult to choose a research topic when there are so many interesting subjects to choose from.

    What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

    My top tip is to make sure that you are doing a PhD for the right reasons such as making a contribution to a certain field of research, your passion in the subject and wanting to learn more. A PhD is a big commitment and can be difficult at times. Therefore it should not be something you decide to do because you have no other ideas or because you want to be called a doctor at the end of it.

    I would also advise anyone who is considering doing a PhD to talk to PhD students within their department whilst they are at university and to their lecturers who would have done a PhD in order to teach at university. You can also access a lot of help and guidance on considering and applying for a PhD through your University career services.

    To talk to a Careers Consultant for further information on applying for a PhD, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

    Careers in the Education Sector: Employer Forum for PhDs and Researchers

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 4 November 2014

    The aim of this event is to help PhD students and other researchers with their career planning by providing an opportunity to question, to hear from and network with employers that come from a variety of roles within the Education sector, who are PhD holders themselves. The panel of speakers will give tips on how research students can use their qualifications and experiences to enter this field as well as information about their sector.

    When: 27th November 2014 – 5:30pm – 7:30pm

    Panel of speakers will be:

    Mark Llewellyn – Director of Research, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

    Marek Kukula – Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich

    Mary Henes – London Regional Director, The Brilliant Club

    Rosalind Mist – Head of Education Policy, The Royal Society

    Steve Heggie – Institute Manager, UCL Eastman Dental Institute

    Steve Cross – Head of Public Engagement, UCL Public and Cultural Engagement

    To find out more and to read the speakers’ biographies please go to: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2462

    Research Students book here

    Research Staff book here

    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/

     

    The Education Sector’s Many Possibilities: Employer Forum for PhDs and Researchers

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 19 May 2014

    The aim of this event is to help PhD and other research students with their career planning by providing an opportunity to question, to hear from and network with employers that come from a variety of roles within the Education sector, who are PhD holders themselves.

    When: Thursday 29th May 5:30 – 7:30pm

    Where: JZ Young Lecture Theatre

    The panel of speakers will give tips on how research students can use their qualifications and experiences to enter this field as well as information about their sector.

    Panel of speakers will be:

    • Steve Cross – Head of Public Engagement, Public Engagement Unit, UCL
    • Satnam Sagoo – Head of Education and Training Unit, Public Health England
    • Marek Kukula –  Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich
    • Vicki Symington – Education Coordinator for South East England, Royal Society of Chemistry
    • Chris Wilson – Regional Director for London and the South East, The Brilliant Club
    • Hilary Leevers – Head of Education and Learning, Wellcome Trust

    To find out more and to read the speakers’ biographies please go to: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2462

    PhD students can book a place via the following link :

    http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2462

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