UCL Researchers
  • 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.

    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 – Head of UCL Careers

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

  • Accurate at the time of publication
  • UCL Researchers Tags

  • A A A

    Employer Led Career Skills Workshop Programme for Researchers – Open For Booking!

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 12 September 2014

    These workshops, arranged by UCL Careers in collaboration with the Doctoral Skills Development Programme, will introduce you to the employability skills that are required in today’s workplace and provide opportunities for you to develop and practice these skills. They will also demonstrate the transferable nature of the research skills you have acquired during your PhD, from an employer’s perspective. You can find out more information about the range of workshops available here.

    Upcoming workshops

    Networking Skills with Citi – Tuesday 30th September – 5:30pm to 7:30pm

    Venue: UCL Careers Seminar Room, 4th Floor, ULU Building, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY

    The ability to network productively is a key skill in academic and industry settings. This session will help you to understand what effective networking involves and will enable you to identify and make the most of networking situations. You will have the opportunity to practice some techniques within the workshop.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Recognise the importance of networking when looking for work and in the workplace
    • Understand what networking involves and demonstrate your networking skills
    • Develop some techniques for connecting with new people
    • Develop some techniques for leveraging existing contacts

    Research Students book a place here

    Research Staff book a here


    Commercial Awareness with PwC – Thursday 2nd October – 2:00pm to 4:00pm

    Venue: UCL Conference Suite, Seminar Room 2, 188 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7PH

    Commercial awareness is about having a complete understanding of the career sector, company and job that you are applying for. It is the ability to view events and circumstances from a business perspective. This session is designed to help students understand the importance of commercial awareness when making the transition from their studies to the workplace. The session will focus on the methods through which students can build their commercial awareness in the run up to job applications, and the benefits to be gained from this.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Recognise why and how graduate employers look for commercial awareness in their recruitment processes
    • Develop techniques for increasing commercial awareness in order to apply for jobs and attend interviews
    • Communicate your commercial awareness more effectively to graduate recruiters
    • Gain the tools to evaluate your level of commercial awareness when applying for your next role

    Research Students book a place here

    Research Staff book a here

    Teaching focused career paths in academia: what, where and how?

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 9 September 2014

    chalkboard by  lewisr1 licensed under Creative Commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51597203@N03/4796866219/in/photostream/








    Although the majority of academic roles require a combination of teaching,research and administrative activities, there are plenty of academic positions in which the primary focus of the job is on teaching.

    What are the roles?

    This kind of role allows you to spend the majority of your time in a student-facing role: teaching core modules in your discipline, contributing to curriculum development, planning lessons, assessing learning and generally developing your teaching practice. Supervision of dissertation at undergrad and postgrad level may also be expected.

    You’ll typically also be expected to provide administrative support for other teaching-related activities such as student recruitment, admissions, examinations, placements and teaching quality assessment.   And even if you’re not actively involved in research you’ll certainly be expected to stay up-to-date on new developments in your discipline.

    Where are they?

    The majority of such roles tend to be fixed-term or contract positions, but there has been movement in some HEIs towards developing permanent career paths for academics who excel in teaching rather than research and wish to develop a career from this excellence. These roles tend to be found more frequently at post-92 institutions, although some of the more traditional Russell Group universities are adopting this approach too.

    Be warned that job titles can be confusing. For example, in some institutions the job title “Teaching Fellow” is a permanent teaching-focused academic role whilst in others it’s a non-academic, fixed-term position.   It’s increasingly common to see titles such as “Lecturer (Teaching Focused)”, although once again, this isn’t typical of all institutions.   Do your homework and check job descriptions carefully before applying.

    How can I best position myself for this kind of role?

    If you’re interested in pursuing teaching-focused roles within academia, you’ll need to ensure a) that you understand your own motivation and b) that you get teaching experience, and lots of it.

    a)      Understand your reasons for seeking this kind of role. You’ll certainly be asked at interview why you want this particular position, but it’s important for your own career planning that you’ve thought through the pros and cons of a teaching-only position.   Have you clearly considered the implications of moving away from research? Is there anything about research that you’ll miss? What is it about teaching that particularly attracts you? What are the long-term implications of this route for your academic career?

    b)      Get plenty of teaching experience. Put yourself in the shoes of your future employers: what are they going to want? Any institution is going to want you to demonstrate your passion for student engagement and expertise in teaching. This means getting involved in as many situations as possible where you teach, assess or support students’ learning. There are plenty of opportunities to do this at UCL, and UCL Arena can support you in these endeavours – including providing a pathway towards a nationally recognised teaching award.

    - Hilary Moor, Careers Consultant, Careers Group University of London

    The Brilliant Club: teaching opportunities for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 2 September 2014

    The Brilliant Club is an award winning charity that recruits, trains and places doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in low participation schools to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials to small groups of high performing pupils.

    We will be running a drop-in centre at UCL to introduce researchers to the programme on the morning of Tuesday 23rd September. To book a slot, please email Dr Mary Henes at mary@thebrilliantclub.org.

    During our autumn placements, our PhD Tutors will work with twelve high-performing 10-13 year old pupils, delivering a series of six tutorials that takes them beyond the curriculum and helps them to develop the knowledge, skills and ambition necessary to secure places at top universities. Successful candidates typically deliver a pre-designed course and modify it to include aspects of their own research interests. Courses include ‘Evolution’, ’Turning Points in English History’ and ‘Could the stars float in the bath?’

    Our training programme is delivered by qualified teachers and focuses on learning theory and teaching technique. The first tutorial takes place at our launch trips, where tutors accompany pupils on a visit to a highly-selective university. The in-school tutorials are each one hour long, and pupils complete the programme with an extended assignment which tutors mark before delivering the final tutorial.

    Tutors are paid £450 for a single placement, and there are opportunities to take part in more than one placement in the autumn and over the following terms with older pupils.

    To find out more or apply now, please visit www.thebrilliantclub.org/apply

    Helpful tips for choosing between academia and industry

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 6 August 2014

    From Open Clipart: http://openclipart.org/detail/11500/rpg-map-symbols:-crossroads-sign-by-nicubunu

    Coming to the end of your PhD or a postdoc position means thinking about the future and potentially making choices about whether to stay in academia or move into industry.  This is a decision that’s harder for some than others, but some thorough research will help you to choose the most appropriate fit.

    As with any career decision, it’s best to start with yourself:  specifically, what you really want from a career, what you need from a career, and the kind of personality you have.  It helps to be really specific when you’re thinking about this, so as far as possible approach this task with the same rigour you apply to research questions.   

    1)      What do you want from your career?  To put it another way, how exactly do you want to spend your days at work?  This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s one that is often overlooked.  For example, do you want to spend much of your time teaching?  Are you happy to devote a large amount of time to building your network with the knowledge that “publish or perish” will always be at the heart of an academic career?  Or are you more interested in a career in industry that will potentially allow you to strategise, plan and manage from an early stage, placing a greater emphasis on your softer ‘people’ skills?  The idea here is to get a clear sense of what really drives you. 

    2)       What do you need from a career?  This question relates specifically to the kind of compensation you’re looking for, opportunities for promotion and any other specific needs you have.  These tend to become more complex if you have a partner and family – geographical limitations, for instance.  Higher salaries are still to be found in industry and compensation is considerably more complicated than in academia, so if you’re considering an offer make sure you understand an organisation’s compensation structure: bonuses, for example, can make a big difference to your total package.

    3)      What’s your personality like – and where might you find your best ‘fit’?  Try to think objectively about the kind of person you are in order to determine where you’re most likely to thrive.  It is still possible to make some generalisations about the differences between academia and industry.  The latter generally works at a faster pace and decisions are made quickly (there’s money riding on it!) so if you’re goal-oriented and impatient, industry could offer the sort of variety and change you’ll enjoy.  On the other hand, academia offers a high degree of independence and suits maverick personalities well; industry is well-suited to natural team players and those who are seeking managerial responsibilities early on.  Wherever you are it’s important to realise that you can’t escape organisational politics – although these are sometimes thought to be more immediately apparent in industry.

    As you gather information about yourself and your options, keep an open mind.  The decision between academia and industry is not black and white, and within each is a spectrum of many different possibilities.  It’s also possible to find roles which allow you to move between academia and industry.  The crucial thing is to identify your own priorities and be honest with yourself in order to find the path that will bring you both satisfaction and success.

    - Hilary Moor, Careers Consultant, Careers Group University of London

    Book a one to one appointment with Deallus Consulting on 29th July

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 4 July 2014

    Deallus Consulting is an energetic Competitive Strategy Consultancy creating value for over 30 Life Science organisations worldwide, ranging from global blue chip pharmaceuticals to smaller specialist biotechnology companies. With rapid growth and change in this sector, we are continuously expanding our scope and client base.

    Each year we have a number of vacancies at Business Analyst or Associate level for PhD graduates to join us. New recruits have a passion for their scientific specialism but also have commercial flair and a desire to add insight to client’s decisions. They usually speak one or more languages fluently other than English. These exceptional individuals have the opportunity to build and blend their skills amongst global colleagues from a variety of backgrounds in academia or other consulting organisations.

    We will be present at the UCL main campus for one-to-one appointments on Tuesday 29th July from 10:00am till 12.30pm for those of you interested to learn more and for our recruiter to provide CV advice.

    To make a booking for a 15 minute appointment, please email: OpportunitiesinEMEA@deallusconsulting.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Employment conditions for academics in US, UK and Germany – similar to being in a drug gang?

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 30 June 2014

    A blog has been written by Alexandre Afonso on LSE’s ‘The Impact Blog’ that draws on data from the US, Germany and the UK,  looking at how the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang. Certainly an interesting take on the academic job market!

     You can read the blog here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/12/11/how-academia-resembles-a-drug-gang/

    Sprint Development Programme for female undergraduates and postgraduates

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 26 June 2014

    sprint logo image





    Sprint is a groundbreaking new development programme for undergraduate and postgraduate women:

    Building on the success of the prestigious Springboard programme, Sprint has been researched, designed and written specifically to address issues and challenges faced by undergraduate and postgraduate women. Originally pioneered at University of Cambridge, with more recent pilot programmes run at the University of Oxford, the summer programme will be hosted at City University and the winter programme will be hosted at UCL.

    The Sprint Programme is a fantastic opportunity for women undergraduates and postgraduates, from all backgrounds, ages and stages in their lives and study, to take hold of their personal development and achieve their ambitions.

    Across 4 action packed days, the programme covers a range of key development topics, with the aim help you to:

    • use your personal power and influence
    • identify your values, attitudes and direction
    • manage your time effectively
    • learn how to use assertiveness positively
    • build your image, networking skills and confidence
    • engage with inspiring role models and industry professionals
    • work with a mentor (provided by sponsoring companies) to continue help you achieve your goals

     WHEN IS IT?

     Co-sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Microsoft and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the first ever London Sprint Programme will be held on 29th, 30th and 31st July and 1st September 2014 and is exclusively open to City University, University College London and Kingston University students.


    Applicants will need to submit a CV and a 300 word letter detailing why they wish to participate in the course.  View further details on the programme, upload your applications documents and register through your My Careers Service account.

    Any questions to Weronika Benning w.benning@ucl.ac.uk or Charlotte Turnbull c.turnbull@ucl.ac.uk

    Applicants will be shortlisted according to clear evidence that they have thought about their future career, why they wish to participate in the course, and how it will meet their development needs.

    The deadline for applications is Sunday 6th July 2014  and successful candidates will be informed within a week of the closing date.


    Please note that if you are successful in being shortlisted to attend, as places are limited a £50 deposit is required which will be returned to you on completion of the programme.  If the workshop becomes fully booked before you pay the deposit, we will email you to let you know and keep you on a reserve list so that we can contact you if there are any last minute cancellations.

    *Deposits will be returned when you attend the final workshop on the 1st September. Any latecomers will not be admitted to the workshop and will therefore lose the deposit.

    * Cancellations– full deposits will be refunded only if you give at least two working days notice of your wish to cancel your place otherwise the full deposit will not be refunded.

    *Please note that all successful applicants will be required to attend ALL four days of the programme

    Opportunities for researchers in the Life Science or Health sector outside of academia

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 3 June 2014

    Figure 1: Royal Society, The Scientific Century: securing our future prosperity, 2010.

    Figure 1: Royal Society, The Scientific Century: securing our future prosperity, 2010.

    Where do Science PhDs end up?

    The rather weird and wonderful graph in Figure 1 is something I think all PhD students and early career researchers should see, as well as anyone considering starting a PhD. Created by the Royal Society in 2010, it outlines career destinations of science PhDs, and shows that staying in academia is the exception rather than the rule. Whatever your career intentions following a PhD, this is valuable information. The graph indicates that anyone aiming to stay in academia needs to keep their eyes on the prize; publish as much as possible, network, get involved in funding applications, find teaching opportunities etc. But the graph also tells those considering other options that they are not alone. Not by a long shot.

    This blog will focus on careers possibilities for PhDs within the life science or health sector.

    The Pharmaceutical and Biotech Industries

    The pharmaceutical industry is dominated by the US, UK and the rest of Europe. The largest firms have research and development sites in several countries and operate within a global market for medicines. Biotechnology is a global industry at the cutting edge of medical, renewable energy and agricultural developments. Many biotechnology companies are small, often starting out as university research projects which attract funding to become ‘spin out’ companies.

    Unsurprisingly many industry R&D roles are filled by people with PhDs, however, ex-researchers are also found in more commercial aspects of the industry, such as project management, marketing, sales, regulatory affairs, or investment and finance, where their research experience and scientific understanding is valued highly.

    Contract Research Organisations

    Independent contract research organisations (CROs) sell research services to clients including pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and sometimes the NHS. Services can involve conducting laboratory research, data analysis, literature reviews or clinical trials. The skills developed during a PhD are obviously useful, and client-handling skills are very important.

    Medical Communications

    Medical communications organisations also take pharma and biotech companies as clients, however, their services involve the communication of science. This might take the form of writing journal articles or conference presentations to disseminate research to a medical audience, but it can also involve creating communications for the general public. PhDs are valued for their understanding of the research process, and experience deciphering scientific literature. Clear, concise communication skills, and good client-handling and teamworking skills, are paramount.

    Patent Attorneys

    Patent attorneys assess whether inventions are innovative and therefore eligible to be patented. The pharmaceutical and biotech industries often deal with intellectual property issues, and companies may employ in-house patent attorneys, or enlist the services of private firms. Being comfortable with science is essential, so a PhD is often a prerequisite for entry into the profession. Attention-to-detail, client-handling, and clear communication skills are required. Training involves a combination of exams and on-the-job learning, and it usually takes 4-5 years to qualify as a patent attorney.

    The NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Program

    The NHS is a huge UK employer, boasting numerous administrative and management roles which may appeal to PhDs. The Healthcare Scientist Training Program (STP) prepares future healthcare scientists to work within the NHS. Roles are largely diagnostic, although there is scope for conducting research, especially if it feeds into service improvements. Although a PhD is not required, as the STP is the only clear route to working within NHS science, many applicants have PhDs.

    How to get in

    Research the sector you’re interested in to identify all possible opportunities, and to decide which environment might suit you best. Recruitment into research roles is often through word of mouth, so consider who you already know with industry colleagues. Roles in the private sector are not always advertised, so you should be prepared to contact companies speculatively. You can identify companies to target, and find out more about different sectors, using the links below. Advertised positions appear in scientific publications such as New Scientist and Nature. Some of the larger pharma companies will post vacancies or careers information on their own websites. Some specific roles are recruited for by specialist recruitment agencies, so it’s worthwhile finding out who recruits in your field/for the company for which you hope to work.

    Further Resources

    Careers Tagged: www.careerstagged.co.uk

    UK Bioindustry Association: http://www.bioindustry.org/home/

    Biotechnology Industry Organization: http://www.bio.org/

    One Nucleus: www.onenucleus.com.

    Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry: www.abpi.org.uk

    Clinical Contract Research Association: http://www.ccra.org.uk

    Association of Clinical Research Organisations: http://www.acrohealth.org/

    MedComms Networking: http://www.medcommsnetworking.co.uk/index.html

    Healthcare Communications Association: http://www.hca-uk.org/members.html

    Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys: http://www.cipa.org.uk/pages/contact


    - Hilary Moor, Careers Consultant, Careers Group, University of London



    Life Science and Health Sector Employer Fair on Monday 9th June

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 2 June 2014

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

    Book your place to attend

    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 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.

    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 Small Companies Big Jobs Fair

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 30 May 2014

    Tuesday 3rd June, 1pm to 5pm, North Cloister, UCL Wilkins Building

    Thinking of entering enterprise or starting your own? Then ‘The Small Companies Big Jobs Fair’ is for you! There will be companies from an array of sectors offering internships, placement and job opportunities covering marketing, advertising, web development, digital music and production to name a few. Find out what it takes to get started and whether you have the right CV to get hired by attending one of the sessions on;

          Lessons from working in Start Ups: The good, the bad, and the awesome;

          Mistakes when starting up – and how to avoid them;

          Supercharge your CV – land that start up interview.

     To keep up-to-date on who’s coming and more details head on over to: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/summerevents

     The Small Companies Big Jobs Fair is brought to you by: UCL Management Science & Innovation, UCL Careers, UCL Advances, Silicone Milkroundabout, FATJIL and the National Association of Colleges & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE)