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

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    How to Market Your Postgraduate Qualification

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 2 December 2012

    If you have undertaken a Masters or PhD and have decided not to pursue an academic career, you will need to convince employers of the value of your postgraduate qualification.

    Clearly if you are entering a profession where such a qualification is expected, such as industrial research and development (with a PhD), that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But what if you have a postgraduate qualification that doesn’t ‘match’ your career direction? Maybe you loved your subject so much that you just wanted to learn more and gain that MA in History? Or maybe you thought you might like an academic career but after 4 years of your PhD you have changed your mind? Or maybe (tut tut) you just wanted to postpone your job hunt? How can you convince your prospective employer that your Masters or PhD gives you ‘added value’ as an employee?

    Consider the following:

    •  Have you gained any additional skills during your qualification such as research skills, self management, presentation skills and so on? One of the main things that employers look for is the skills that you will bring to the job, therefore if you convince them that your additional qualification also comes with additional skills that may help your case.
    • Have you learned anything during your postgraduate qualification that your prospective employer may find useful – did your dissertation include anything relevant? Did your PhD have any commercial value that is relevant to the role you wish to pursue (a favourite question at interview)?
    •  During the course of your postgraduate studies did you undertake any additional activities that enhance your employability? Did you get involved in any clubs or societies? Did you represent your department in any way? Did you undertake any short courses at university?
    • Have your additional student year(s) enabled you to carry out extra work experience? This could be volunteering, work / work shadowing or work within your department such as tutoring or assisting at open days? It may be that the work isn’t identical to the work you are applying for but it may demonstrate your ability to work with members of the public or juggle your time.
    • How does the qualification support your career strategy? This is the big question and one that is possibly the hardest to answer.

    Employers are keen to know that you have really thought about your career and how they fit in with your ambitions. They don’t want to feel that you have just decided to apply to them on a whim or that they are one of hundreds of employers you have applied to as you are desperate for any job.

    You need to give them reasons for why you want the role and the particular company and the research you have done on them. If, for example your career aims have changed during the time of your postgraduate qualification, be honest and explain what made you change your mind. You can also turn the situation to your advantage by using it as an example of how you are not afraid to make difficult decisions.

    If you want further support on how you can ‘sell yourself’ to employers, don’t forget to attend our Masters QuickkFix sessions  or our PhD careers sessions. We also have a large number of employer-led PhD events which proves the point that employers are actively seeking out postgraduate students. You just need to convince them that you are the person they need…..

    What to do in a PhD to build up an academic career

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 30 November 2012

    In the UK, it is known that every year at least half of all PhD graduates continue in academic research (for more information visit the Vitae Website) and for many the ultimate aim is to secure a university lectureship. If this is your aspiration it is vital that you appreciate what will be expected of you in the future from academic recruiters. To help with your planning the UCL careers service conducted an online survey of UCL senior academics across all research disciplines, asking them what was in their wish list in terms of the ideal applicant’s CV and personal qualities. The results of this survey can be accessed on the Resources page of the researcher careers website, in the subsection ‘Effective Academic Applications’

    There will be no surprises that the top three things academics wanted to see were; a first author paper in a high impact journal, evidence of strength in relevant methods and in depth knowledge of subject and presentations delivered at conferences, either national or international. We also asked what personal qualities and attributes PhD graduates that were eventually successful in academia possessed. Outstanding researchers were said to be innovative and enterprising, took on extra responsibilities, had a broad view of the research field and were highly self motivated. It is worth asking yourself whether you are currently engaging in activities, within your project or in addition to it, that would demonstrate these ‘soft skills‘. For additional information, including audio clips of careers advice from UCL academics, visit the subsection ‘Academic Career Planning’ in the researcher careers resources page.

    International Institute for Environment & Development joins panel for PhD Employer Forum – Careers in Natural Resources & Environmental Sustainability

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 10 May 2012

    New speaker just signed up for this event which aims to provide PhD and other research students with the opportunity to hear from and network with employers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability sector. Speakers (many who hold a PhD) work in organisations that cover non-academic research, policy, consultancy, engineering and scientific roles have been invited to talk about their sector, their career progression and the best routes into these positions. They will also give tips on how PhD and research students can use their qualifications and experiences to enter these fields.

    Organisations/Panel Speakers:

    • ***NEW SPEAKER*** – Krystyna Swiderska, Senior Researcher, Natural Resources Group, International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED)
    • Sally Watson, Principal Hydrogeologist, Water & Environment, Atkins
    • Paul Van Heyningen, Head of Sustainability and Estates, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
    • Ross Haacke, Senior Geophysicist, CGG Veritas
    • Josie Arendorf, Technical Consultant, Oakdene Hollins
    • Jonathan Henton, Geology Discipline Lead, BP

    Date/Time: Wednesday 30th May, 5.30pm to 7.30pm
    Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building

    For full  information and to register for this event please go to the Graduate School Forum website page.