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Launch of new network for early career researchers in population health

By ucyow3c, on 11 September 2014

pencil-iconWritten by Dr Sadie Boniface (UCL Department of Epidemiology & Public Health)

Attendees at the launch of the Early Careers Network

Attendees at the launch of the Early Careers Network

Early career researchers should be inspired and supported, which is why the UCL Populations & Lifelong Health Domain launched its Early Careers Network (ECN) on Wednesday 3 September. The afternoon was packed with lively discussion and insightful talks from academics working in population health at various stages of their careers.

The event was led by Dr Ed Fottrell (UCL Institute for Global Health), who is Chair of the ECN’s 12-strong Committee. Ed made it very clear that while the ECN will aim to support early career researchers working in population health across UCL, the real value of the Network will depend on the researchers themselves and the links that will form in time.

This event wasn’t the first time awareness has been raised about the need to support UCL’s early career researchers, as Professor Gudrun Moore pointed out in her talk about her recent survey of post-docs at the UCL Institute of Child Health. The number of post-docs vastly outstrips the number of lecturer posts, but with the majority of post-docs keen to progress in academia, Gudrun believes more needs to be done to promote and support researchers’ transitions into a range of other careers.

We then heard from Dr Jamie Brown (Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology), Dr Nicola Shelton (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health), and Prof Dame Anne Johnson (UCL Infection & Population Health, and Domain Chair) about their career paths to date. My favourite suggestion from Jamie was to be open to possibilities and opportunities – he has found his career a balancing act between championing his own ideas that he has wanted to pursue, and getting involved with projects as and when they arise.

Nicola pointed out that people often don’t make it clear what they can do and why they want the job when they come for interview. For her, early career researchers often have the technical skills but do not convey these at interview, and she feels that the ECN could help to address this. Dame Anne presented her top 10 tips for success, which ranged from practical advice (e.g. don’t pay for anything if someone else will!) to emphasising the importance of consistent mentoring and coaching.

Where ECRs see themselves five years from now

Where ECRs see themselves five years from now

It’s vital that the ECN’s upcoming events are relevant and helpful, so I led a short, interactive voting session so researchers could vote on the type of events they’d like to see in the future. One thing that stood out to me was that almost one third of our audience chose ‘other/don’t know’ for where they see themselves five years from now. As part of the ECN Committee I would like to explore this in more detail to see how the Network can support UCL researchers in setting and achieving their goals.

The event finished with drinks and nibbles in the Roberts Foyer and we were pleased to see lots of people staying to chat to us and making use of the ‘talk to me about…’ conversation starters on their name badges.

From all of us on the ECN Committee, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came and made the launch event such a success. We are constantly looking for event suggestions so please fill in our survey or get in touch with a Committee member if you have any ideas.

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