UCL Researchers
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    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.

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    Karen Barnard – Head of UCL Careers

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

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    Archive for April, 2016

    Working in social and market research – panel event for UCL researchers

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 29 April 2016

    Beyond Academia: Working in social and market research

    5th May 2016 – 5:30pm – 6:30pm

    ‘Beyond Academia’ is a new programme designed to give researchers a focused insight into specific career areas within industry.

    Two employers will give a short presentation about the work they do in their organisation. The employers who are presenting have a PhD allowing them to give a view point from a researcher’s perspective. The presentations will be followed by a short networking session allowing you to speak to the employers and ask any questions you might have.

    Speakers:

    Dr Marco Bonzanini, Data Scientist, Elevate Direct

    Marco Bonzanini is a Data Scientist based in London. After a few years working as software engineer and lecturer in the private sector in Italy, he took a Master in Advanced Methods in Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London. He completed a PhD in Information Retrieval at the same institute, where he defended his thesis in 2014. His research interests include intelligent search applications and natural language processing. After his time in academia, he moved back to industry where he tries to merge the best of both worlds. Active in the PyData community, he’s now working on his first book about Data Mining applied to Social Media (PacktPub, 2016).

    Dr Neil Stevenson, Senior Research Executive, Ipsos Connect (Ipsos MORI)

    Neil Stevenson is originally from New Zealand where he studied Political Science and History at the University of Auckland and then a Masters in Political Communication. He completed his PhD at the University of Westminster in 2015 on the production of political talk television shows in America, the UK, and Australia. Neil worked at the think-tank Demos in 2014 where he researched ethno-cultural integration in the UK. After that he joined Ipsos MORI, a market research agency, to work in a specialist qualitative team that helps media, technology and government clients wrestle with their business problems and better understand people.

    To find out more please go to: https://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2799

    Research Students book here

    Research Staff book here

     

     

    Chris Penny’s Communications Internship at Portland Press

    By S Donaldson, on 25 April 2016

    Internships, placements, work shadowing….when it comes to selecting a career they’re all great ways to ‘try before you buy’. Some UCL PhD programmes contain a mandatory placement period, a few months where students must do something unrelated to their research. These prove invaluable to the students involved, so in this series of posts we hope to spread the career knowledge by speaking to three PhDs about their placement experiences.

    Communication

    Interview by Shadae Samuels, Placements and Vacancies Officer, UCL Careers.

    Image taken from Chris Garcia.

    Chris Penny is a current PhD student with the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Programme.  He is based in Sandip Patel’s lab and his PhD project is studying the molecular physiology and signalling functions of an intracellular ion channel. Through Chris’ project he was able to experience writing papers and reviews, which piqued his interest in potentially pursuing a career in publishing. This made publishing the perfect option for his PIPS placement to provide him with the opportunity to gain new skills and find out as much as possible about the industry. Chris secured a 12 week placement with Portland Press, a leading provider of high-quality publishing and knowledge dissemination solutions. He was supervised by the Executive Editor, Clare Curtis.

    How did Chris secure his PIPS with Portland Press?

    Chris initially researched a large number of publishing houses, he speculatively sent his CV and cover letter; he would then follow up his application with a phone call to the organisation. He found this approach was quite time-consuming and did not yield a high response, so Chris reached out to his own network for contacts in the publishing industry. Luckily Chris had a friend who previously worked at Portland Press Ltd and they put him in touch with a member of the editorial team. Chris organised an interview, and he was offered an internship starting a few months later. Chris would advise anyone applying for internships to utilise their contacts and be persistent in following up with the organisation. Having a contact in the organisation really helps with getting your application noticed!

    What did the company look for in a placement student?

    Portland Press wanted someone who was enthusiastic, willing to learn, and able to ‘have a go’ at a variety of tasks, some of which were mundane and others that would be more challenging. It was good to have someone who had little or no experience in the publishing industry so that they did not arrive with any preconceived ideas. The only requirement they had was for the intern to have scientific knowledge.

    What did Chris do on his placement?

    Portland Press is the wholly owned publishing subsidiary of the Biochemical Society, and produces the Biochemical Journal and Clinical Science, among other titles. It is a really exciting time to work there, with both the Society and the Press going through a number of changes to their look, systems and processes. Chris’ role mainly consisted of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, building upon his lab skills in the context of publishing. This included carrying out extensive citation analysis, looking at which research is high profile and which areas could be improved. Helping with the peer review submitted articles, Chris was able to generate strategies for expanding the research that is published by Portland Press, and he helped with commissioning experts to write the hot topics of the week.

    What did Chris gain from the experience?

    The placement was an opportunity for Chris to experience the other side of academic publishing. From the placement Chris gained commercial awareness, which he found particularly useful as this experience is very difficult to come by during a PhD. He improved on his analytical skills, market research skills by soliciting reviews, launching new content and searching for peer reviewers. Chris broadened his scientific interests as he was exposed to research in areas he was almost completely unaware of previously.

    How did the placement contribute to Portland Press?

    Portland Press is going through a period of significant change both in organisational structure and in processes. The work Chris undertook provided some foundations for future development of the department, and helped the creation of an overall strategy. The Biochemical Society is committed to the advancement of science for academics and students. Part of its ethos is to foster education and student opportunities. Therefore being part of the BBSRC PhD placement programme was the perfect way to meet this for Portland Press.

    Has the placement influenced Chris’s career direction?

    Since the start of his PhD Chris always wanted to go into post-doctoral work, however he enjoyed the editorial and strategic aspects of his placement.  Therefore Chris would certainly consider joining an editorial board while in academia if possible, but would also consider working in publishing outside of academia. Chris has a better understanding of the publishing industry and hopes the experience will come in handy for articles he will publish in the future.

    If you’re a UCL PhD or researcher wondering how to secure work experience or a more permanent post, book an appointment to speak with one of our advisers. And for advertised opportunities check out UCL Talent Bank and JobOnline.

    Elpida’s career journey from a PhD to becoming Engineering Education Developer & Coordinator at UCL

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 19 April 2016

    elpidaElpida Makrygianni has a PhD in Computer Science and Electronic & Electrical Engineering and now works as an Engineering Education Developer & Coordinator at UCL. Elpida spoke to UCL Careers about her post-PhD career.

    Tell us about your job.

    My job focuses on developing and managing a comprehensive suite of engineering engagement and education programmes for children and young people aged 5 -19 years old from London and across the UK. Central to my role is the development of a Pre-19 engagement strategy, which increases access and widens diversity in every sense, where engineering is seen as intrinsically worthwhile and relevant to young people from all walks of life. Through our programmes we seek to change the stereotyped perceptions of suitable choices and careers in young people – both girls and boys – their teachers, parents, carers and youth workers, by raising awareness of the exciting and wide-ranging careers in engineering.

    How did you move from a PhD to your current role?

    After studying computer science and engineering with genetics, social science and economics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, my passion for research led me to a PhD in Artificial Intelligent Systems mapping China’s economic growth. In the first year of my PhD, I took on a role as a teaching assistant for undergraduate students and research assistant on EU projects. Being a doctoral student was one of the most exciting, transformative yet stressful periods of my life. When I finished my PhD, I took a six-month break and travelled around Europe. In 2008, I returned to the UK and started working for the Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation on science and technology educational projects in the UK, US and China. In 2011, I was offered a job opportunity as a consultant for the UK Department for Education to design training and educational materials for school pupils with autism. Before moving to UCL, I worked at Cambridge University researching the role of STEM education in schools across the country in rural and urban areas.

    What does an average working day look like?

    Each working day is very different, from visiting schools, to running activities and events, to designing new programmes, working with staff and students on existing and new activities, talking at conferences, writing articles and grant proposals, meeting and working with industry partners to supporting schools with bespoke tailored programmes. Most of my time is spent out of the office. My schedule is usually quite demanding and I am always on the move so maintaining a happy, healthy work life balance is extremely important for me.

    How does your PhD help you in your job?

    My doctoral studies allowed me to develop good project management, communication and writing skills but also knowledge on engineering education. The choices made during my PhD and throughout my career path, also tested my ability to adapt, achieve and be effective with different teams and work environments. In addition, it encouraged me to be brave when selecting exciting new roles – that might have seemed out of my reach at first – greatly increasing my self-confidence in the process.

    What are the best things about your job?

    The most fascinating part of my job is working with staff and students to create exciting activities based on cutting edge research conducted at the labs with a strong social context or environmental focus. I am constantly given a unique opportunity to learn about advances in areas of engineering while meeting extraordinary individuals conducting research in our faculty. Inspiring pupils about engineering and enabling them to develop their problem-solving skills, knowledge and self-confidence, while sparking their creativity and curiosity around STEM careers and degrees is what makes my job very special.

    What are the downsides?

    There are no real downsides or big challenges in my role, but working with a network of over 400 schools, thousands of pupils and 500 academics and students can be quite overwhelming and extremely busy at times. This pace of work can be invigorating for some people and discouraging for others.

    What tips would you give researchers wanting to move into the same, or similar, role?

    Researchers wanting to move into this field will need to be quite entrepreneurial, independent, good time-managers and communicators as well as qualified and experienced in the fields of engineering and social science. Work experience or working as an assistant can be an excellent way to find out if a role is for you or not.

    Bookings open for Life Science Sector Employer Fair for UCL Researchers

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 11 April 2016

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

    27th April 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00

    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 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.

    Companies attending:

    DDB Remedy

    Cambridge Healthcare Research

    Coulter Partners

    Ernst & Young (EY)

    Hays

    Immunocore

    JA Kemp

    L.E.K. Consulting

    Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS)

    National Institute for Biological Standards and Control(NIBSC)

    To find out more information about the companies attending go to:http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2234

    Research Students book here

    Research Staff book here

    Alice Lui’s Festival Experience at Science Museum

    By S Donaldson, on 8 April 2016

    Internships, placements, work shadowing….when it comes to selecting a career they’re all great ways to ‘try before you buy’. Some UCL PhD programmes contain a mandatory placement period, a few months where students must do something unrelated to their research. These prove invaluable to the students involved, so in this series of posts we hope to spread the career knowledge by speaking to three PhDs about their placement experiences.

    Science Museum

    Interview by Shadae Samuels, Placements and Vacancies Officer, UCL Careers.

    Image taken from Allan Watt.

     

    Alice Lui is a current PhD student with the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Programme; based in Saul Purton’s lab her PhD project is studying the synthesis of fungible biofuels in cyanobacteria. Alice initially wanted to gain experience in science communications to reach the wider public beyond academia. The placement team brokered a relationship with the Science Museum who offered exclusive roles to PIPS students, one of which was the chance to work at one of their upcoming festivals. This was the perfect opportunity for Alice to gain experience in science communication to a wider audience, she applied and was offered the position after having an interview. She was supervised by the Assistant Content Developer, Pippa Hough.

    How did Alice secure her placement with Science Museum?

    The placements team was aware that Science Museum were interested in taking on UCL students as interns so we got in touch and informed them of BBSRC/LIDo programme. They were keen to host such students on a placement and offered two exclusive PIPS opportunities, Alice sent her CV and cover letter to Science Museum, and she was then invited to an interview and then offered the position to begin shortly after.

    What was The Science Museum looking for in their placement student?

    The Science Museum wanted a student who would be able to work to tight deadlines, has excellent research skills, and would be able to handle a lot of changes! Alice’s expertise in synthetic biology and bio-sciences in general really stood out in her application/interview as this would be helpful in translating complicated research papers.

    What did Alice do on her placement?

    The main focus of Alice’s placement was to research and develop the scientific content for the ‘You Have Been Upgraded’ festival on the topic of human enhancement technologies. Her time was spent mostly on researching the area of human enhancement and synthetic biology. She contacted academics, artists and individuals involved in this area of research and interviewed them about their work and whether they would be interested in being involved in the festival. Alice also researched possible demonstrations that could be shown during the festival.  During the week leading up to the festival, Alice helped with setting up the festival space. During the festival Alice supported the scientists and interacted with the public, she was also responsible for researching possible objects that could feature in the museum.

    What did Alice gain from the experience?

    The main thing Alice gained from her placement was the confidence to communicate! She improved on her communication skills as she was communicating with people outside the industry and therefore had to learn how to engage a lay audience. This was extremely valuable to her especially if she decides to embark on a career outside of academia. Alice learned the importance of being organised which improved her time management skills.

    How did the placement contribute to The Science Museum?

    Alice’s ability to think fast on her feet and problem solve on the go really helped the festival run as smoothly as it did. Alice also did general research around contemporary science topics that fed into events and small exhibitions the department produces. Her work on finding an object to represent a case on Ebola was particularly helpful! Overall she proved how valuable it is to have an intern which is something the team has not done before and there are excited to have their next LIDo intern.

    Did the placement influence Alice’s career plans?

    Although Alice is still uncertain about her future job prospects the placement has made Alice realise how important job satisfaction and your wellbeing is. She is therefore considering different types of opportunities. Alice may consider a role in Science Communication following her PhD as she gained a lot of confidence in communicating with a wider audience.

    If you’re a UCL PhD or researcher wondering how to secure work experience or a more permanent post, book an appointment to speak with one of our advisers. And for advertised opportunities check out UCL Talent Bank and JobOnline.

    What is Data Science and how can you get into it? Tips from a Data Scientist

    By Vivienne C Watson, on 1 April 2016

    Shaun Gupta has a MSci in Physics from UCL and a PhD in Particle Physics from Oxford. He tells us how he started his career in Data Science and what being a Data Scientist is like.

    GuptaTell us about your job.

    I am currently employed as a Data Scientist at a startup called Row Analytics. Data Science is an emerging field, and it involves using a mixture of coding and statistical analysis to answer questions using big datasets. The company is very small (less than 10 people), which means my role actually covers a wide range of different activities in addition to just Data Science. It is an exciting place to work as I am helping to build the company from the ground up, in a sector that is still relatively new and constantly evolving.

    How did you move from a PhD to your current role?

    After undertaking an MSci in Physics at UCL, I pursued a PhD in Particle Physics at the University of Oxford. During my final year, I spent a month taking part in the 2015 Science to Data Science (S2DS) bootcamp, based in London.  The school was a pivotal opportunity to learn more about the emerging field of Data Science, and showed me how relevant my skill set was in industry. As part of the school, I spent time working on an exciting project with my current employer Row Analytics, who offered me a full-time position once the school was over.

    What does an average working day look like?

    As the company is currently very small, I tend to perform a variety of tasks as part of my job. My time at the moment is split between helping to set up an infrastructure in the cloud on AWS, setting up and configuration databases (noSQL and graph based), building a web application (both front and server backend), writing programs to scrape unstructured data, and performing Natural Language Processing (NLP) on the data.

    How does your PhD help you in your job?

    In essence, my role is very similar to what I did during my PhD, only using data from a different source. As a result many of the techniques and practices I learnt during my PhD are useful in doing my job. These include programming, problem solving skills, strong mathematical skills, statistical analysis techniques including knowledge of learning algorithms, and the ability to work independently in a research driven way to develop new ideas/products.

    What are the best things about your job?

    I enjoy working in a constantly evolving field with many opportunities to get involved in new projects and learn about new cutting edge techniques. I also find it exciting working for a company at such an early stage in its development, and being involved in shaping its future. I am also lucky in how flexible my work is, with the ability to work from home a couple of days a week.

    What are the downsides?

    As the role involves a lot of coding, a lot of time can be spent fixing bugs. Also a lot more time is spent working with the data and structuring it in the correct way for analysis than one may expect initially.

    What tips would you give researchers wanting to move into the same, or similar, role?

    Data Science is a new and exciting sector that is rapidly growing, and so now is the perfect time to get involved. I would say solid programming skills coupled with good analytical ability is key. Therefore, I would advise to brush up on your coding skills in languages such as Python and R, and your knowledge of statistics. Attempting challenges on sites such as Kaggle is a useful way to do this. Attending a school such as S2DS will help you to learn more about the industry, and get involved in real world applications of Data Science with companies. There are also many meet-ups around London and boot-camps that are worth attending.