X Close

UCL Researchers

Home

Find Your Future

Menu

Archive for August, 2019

Researchers Employer-led Events Programme

Isobel EPowell21 August 2019

Welcome to the new 19/20 Employer-led events programme for Researchers

This year we have a whole new set of events giving you the opportunity to meet employers, discover new industries and learn key skills. Whether you are research staff looking for a career change or a research student wanting to explore non-academic options – these events are for you! The term is set out in themed months focusing on a particular industry of choice based on the most desirable career destinations for researchers. Within these themed months we have a plethora of skills sessions, forums and blog content for you to engage with.

*For research students this programme of events is a part of the Doctoral Skills Development Programme and therefore training points are attributable*

 Introduction to the Programme

Each themed month will include a specific forum and a workshop session focusing either on a key skill or offering you the chance to try out what the day to day looks like for that role.

Employer Forums:

Forums are an opportunity for you to hear from PhD level alumni working in non-academic roles. Each speaker will introduce themselves, their career path and offer any key pieces of advice or tips they’ve learnt along the way as a researcher. Then it’s over to you! Ask any questions about the industry, roles, what it’s like to be in a non-academic roles as a PhD holder… Anything that is concerning you about this industry and the opportunities available to researchers. Finally you will have a chance to introduce yourself and get their contact details!

Contacts are key to career progression so don’t miss out on a chance to expand your network.

Skills Sessions:

This year, the skills sessions are an opportunity for you to learn a bit more about a key industry skill and practice this with a real employer. These skills focus on commercial awareness, leadership and self-reflection.  

Employer Taster Session:

The employer taster sessions are a chance for you to get hands on experience of a role. These workshops will allow you to take on a hypothetical task that someone in this role may undertake. Learn a new skill associated with a role and find out whether this is for you.

Employability Q&A’s:

In these events we will be bringing together a selection of researcher recruitment specialists from a range of industries to discuss a key aspect of employability. This includes, application processes, CVs and assessment centres.  

Keep your eye out on our blog to see what’s coming up in each month and read some honest and informative case studies from PhD holders working in industry

 

How to book your space?

This term we will be taking all research student and staff bookings for all researcher careers events including both employer-led events and careers consultant led workshops via the MyUCLCareers portal. If you’re a research student you’ll already have an account, just sign in with your standard UCL single sign-on user ID and password. For research staff register your details with us to set up access to a myUCLCareers account – click here to see the guide.  By streamlining our offerings through one platform we hope to offer you clearer, more detailed and consistent event content.

Any questions? Email us at careers.researchers@ucl.ac.uk

Research Students – All careers workshops and Forums run within the Doctoral Skills Development Programme are worth 1 training point. You must log this yourself on your Research Log – for further info on training points please refer to the DSDP website or follow the how-to guide

This Terms Employer-led Events Programme


Exploring career options beyond Academia:
Research Alumni & Employers networking,
30th September, 5.30-7.30pm

Kicking off our autumn term of events we have an opportunity for you to meet employers and alumni working in various industries in an informal networking session. Come along and practice your networking skills. The best way to improve at networking is to practice therefore this session gives you an informal way to do this whilst meeting some amazing organisations!
Research students and staff book here                    

October 2019 – Finance & Consultancy Month

Employer Forum: Careers in Consultancy, Wednesday 16th October 5.30-7pm

As a rapidly growing industry that requires people with strong problem solving, research and specialist skills, consultancy firms are increasingly recruiting researchers. This forum gives you the opportunity to get an insight into consultancy from PhD level speakers who have paved a career for themselves in this industry. Find out more about what it takes to be a consultant, the wide range of industries and specialisms this covers and gain tips on how to get into this competitive industry. This is a key opportunity to gain an insight into a career you may not have previously considered.
Research students and staff book here                    

Employer Forum: Careers in Finance, Monday 21st October 5.30-7.30pm

Research skills are increasingly important to the finance industry with analysis, problem solving and technical skills being ranked highly in a potential candidate. This forum gives you the opportunity to get an insight into finance from PhD level speakers who have paved a career for themselves in this industry. Find out more about what a career in finance encompasses, the wide range of industries and specialisms this covers and gain tips on how to find a researcher role. This is a key opportunity to gain an insight into a career you may not have previously considered.
Research students and staff book here        

Employer Taster Session in Consultancy, Tuesday 29th October 12.30-2pm

This employer-led careers taster session for consultancy will allow you experience a hypothetical task which someone in this role would undertake. 
This is a practical opportunity to gain experience of a career in consultancy. Participate in a hypothetical task to improve your understanding of the industry and the types of careers available whilst networking with an organisation which hires researchers. This employer taster will highlight a career which has opportunities spanning across science, business, technology, data, the arts and more.
Research students and staff book here        

November 2019 – UK & Global Health Month

Skills Beyond Academia Session:
Commercial Awareness in the Public Sector,
Monday 11th November 12.30-2pm

Commercial awareness is a key skill to learn that proves you, as a candidate, are conscious of the economic and political trends in your desired industry. 
Research is key to understanding a business, its place in the market and the economic and political factors it faces. This session will therefore support you in utilising your research skills to develop commercial awareness. Whilst this session is focused on the UK & Global Health sector the commercial awareness skills you will gain will be transferable to any industry.
Research students and staff book here  

Careers in UK & Global Health, Monday 25th November 5.30-7.30pm

A career in UK & Global health allows you to use your skills in research to improve the lives of local, national or even international communities. 
This forum will give you the opportunity to get an insight into the UK & Global Health sector from PhD level speakers who have paved a career for themselves in this industry. Find out more about what a career in public health encompasses, the wide range of industries and specialisms this covers and gain tips on how to find a researcher role. This is a key opportunity to gain an insight into a career you may not have previously considered.
Research students and staff book here                    

December 2019 – Data Analysis & Data Science Month

Careers in Data Science and Data Analysis, Thursday 5th December 5.30-7.30pm

Skills in research, analysis and data presentation are vital to the data science industry and is why increasingly organisations are looking to hire researchers. 
This forum will give you the opportunity to get an insight into the data science and data analysis sector from PhD level speakers who have paved a career for themselves in this industry. Find out more about what a career in data encompasses, the wide range of industries and specialisms this covers and gain tips on how to find a researcher role. This is a key opportunity to gain an insight into a career you may not have previously considered.
Research students and staff book here  

Employer Taster Session in Data, Monday 9th December 12.30-2pm

This employer-led taster session will allow you experience a hypothetical task which someone in a data analysis role would undertake. This is a practical opportunity to gain real-life experience of a career in data gaining tips and guidance from an expert in this field. Participate in a hypothetical task to improve your understanding of the industry and the types of careers available whilst networking with an organisation which hires researchers. This employer taster will highlight a career which has opportunities spanning across industries such as science, business, technology, data, the arts and more.
Research students and staff book here        

Careers Consultant led Programme

Alongside the employer-led sessions we have our careers consultant led programme of events. Details of the whole programme can be found here

We have separate Careers Consultant led programmes of academic career workshops for research students and research staff while our non-academic career workshops are open to both research staff and students.

Workshops are repeated throughout the year covering topics such as:

  • Academic career planning
  • Effective academic applications
  • Effective academic interviews
  • Identifying strengths, interests & values
  • Finding non-academic jobs
  • Marketing yourself (sessions on applications, interviews, LinkedIn)
  • Workshops are repeated regularly throughout the year.

These programmes are for you. Learn a new skill, find out about an industry or even just ask some questions to help settle your concerns – Get ahead of the game and take these opportunities to explore opportunities and develop yourself and your commercial awareness before you’ve even left academia.

Enhancing university teaching for a living

SophiaDonaldson19 August 2019

Dr Alex Standen has a PhD in Italian Studies, and now works at UCL as Associate Director, Early Career Academic and Research Supervisor Development, in the Arena Centre. Alex helps researchers every day as part of her job, and she kindly agreed to help you even further by telling us her career story.

Tell us about your current role and organisation.  

I work here at UCL in the Arena Centre for Research-Based Education. We work across UCL to support colleagues to enhance their teaching and improve the student experience in their departments. I am one of three Associate Directors and have oversight of all our training and development of PhD students who teach, new Lecturers and Teaching Fellows, Personal Tutors and Research Supervisors.

How did you move from academia to your current role?

During my writing up year I was also employed as a Teaching Fellow in my department, a role that I continued for a year post-PhD. I loved teaching and working closely with students in departmental roles such as Admissions Tutor, Year Abroad/Erasmus Coordinator and Personal Tutor, but it left no time for research. By chance, my partner was offered the opportunity to spend a year in New Zealand and we leapt at the chance: I had been at the same institution since I was an undergraduate and, while I loved my department and role, I needed a change of scenery and to give myself some time and space to focus on my research. Only that wasn’t what happened! I found I had little enthusiasm to re-visit my PhD research and no new projects I wanted to pursue; instead I was gravitating back to roles involving students. Back in the UK I got a job here at UCL as Education Officer in the Faculty of Brain Sciences which gave me so many valuable insights into HE administration, student support and wellbeing, quality assurance and enhancement, and the wider HE landscape. It was also in a Faculty whose research was so far removed from my own that I got an amazing insight into disciplines I had previously known nothing about. Working in the Faculty offered me a chance to get to know lots of the central teams at UCL and as soon as I got to know and understand about the work the Arena Centre was doing I knew that was where I wanted to be!

What does a normal working day look like for you?

It is a complete mix! I am rarely at my desk, and more often to be found delivering sessions, talking to colleagues and departments about their teaching, supporting them to gain professional recognition for their education-related roles, or  liaising with other teams like the Doctoral School and Student Support and Wellbeing. Since becoming Associate Director, I also now manage a small team and am involved in finance and strategic planning conversations which has been a big learning curve!

What are the best things about working in your role?

Meeting so many inspiring colleagues from across the institution and feeling like the work we are doing is actually having an impact on students.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

Not everyone is keen to hear from us! Lots of colleagues, understandably, have so many competing pressures that they just don’t have time to think about their teaching role on top of everything else. But when we do manage to convince them to make even a small change it makes it all worthwhile!

Is a PhD essential for your role?

No, but lots of experience of teaching in HE is essential, and so is a broad understanding of the HE environment. My PhD gave me the confidence to present in front of a range of audiences, to consume large amounts of information quickly and critically, to be persuasive, and to manage my time effectively – all of which are absolutely key to my role.

What’s the progression like?

There is an absolute wealth of roles in HE beyond teaching and research and I have been able to progress quickly. Centres like ours exist in all universities so there are also opportunities to move between institutions. But I have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon!

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

Treat every job with the seriousness and commitment that you give to your research role, and carry it out to the best of your abilities as you never know where it will lead. When I first came back to the UK after New Zealand I wasn’t getting shortlisted for professional services roles in HE, which I now see is because I was still presenting myself as a teacher-researcher. But at the time my main concern was financial, so I joined a temping agency which specialised in HE roles and the first role I was placed in was here at UCL as an admin assistant in the Faculty of Brain Sciences…

 

Facilitating research – helping bring money to a university

SophiaDonaldson1 August 2019

By Jana Dankovicova

 

Dr Jennifer Hazelton has a PhD in Civil Engineering  from Newcastle University, and now works as a Senior School Research Facilitator in the BEAMS Research Coordination Office at UCL. She is talking in detail about her role, highlights and challenges, as well as giving tips for researchers who would like to follow a similar path.

 

 

  • Tell us about your job.

I really enjoy my job, as I work closely with researchers and feel I can make a real difference to their chances of having successful applications for grant funding. I am Senior Research Facilitator in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), covering the BEAMS School (Faculties of Built Environment, Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences). I lead a sub-team within the BEAMS Research Coordination Office with responsibility for providing support for Fellowship applications, Global Challenges Research Fund and Doctoral Training across BEAMS, and the Environment Research Domain across UCL. My job is very varied, often hectic with short deadlines and competing pressures, but I have a lovely team and really enjoy the buzz of helping people with proposals and contributing towards UCL’s targets for research income. I am also co-Chair of the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Operational Group, where we share best practice and common or specific issues in global research projects, then report and make recommendations to academic and senior leadership committees.

  • How did you move from academia to your current role?

I never intended to join academia, but after a job as a Research Associate led to my PhD and postdoctoral role it looked as though that’s where I might be headed. I hated the uncertainty of short term contracts, however, and realised that I had most enjoyed supporting our funding applications and writing, rather than the research itself. I applied for a Research Coordinator job within a virtual institute newly set up at my previous university, which was a crossover between academia and application support, and offered the permanent contract I needed. I gradually did less and less research, and found that I didn’t miss it, so I knew this was the right career direction for me. When I moved on, it was to a full Professional Services role as a Strategic Research Facilitator at UCL and I moved up to my current role after a spell of maternity leave. I recently observed that I am working at Associate Professor equivalent, and doubt whether I would have made it to this level by now if I had stayed on an academic path.

  • What does a normal working day look like for you?

I do a weekly surgery giving 1:1 support for researchers submitting applications for funding, so have to schedule in time to read those applications. I try to avoid doing them at my desk, so work from home once a week to read or write, and otherwise go through the proposals on the train during my commute. I am responsible for overseeing internal procedures to limit numbers of fellowship bids where schemes have institutional caps, which can take a lot of coordinating – particularly for new schemes. My team are experienced and increasingly manage these processes on their own, but we go through the details and try to assess whether we are working in the most effective way to give the best support to applicants. We provide training for researchers on applying for funding, so I deliver sessions for individual departments, faculties and the careers service. I really enjoy facilitating workshops and delivering training, but we try to target advice for the audience and give bespoke insights, as well as responding to feedback to continually improve our service, so quite a lot of preparation is required. As line manager for my team, I take their professional development very seriously. I meet fortnightly, and I like to be well prepared for those meetings. I meet fortnightly with our Director to report back and plan ahead. On a daily basis we will get requests for help with very short turnaround, whether that might be to draft a letter of support from the Vice-Provost Research, set up a mock interview or give feedback on a response to reviewer comments. We always try to fit these activities in, often pooling resources as a team to find time. I very rarely have two days the same in a week, as I work flexibly to fit around childcare, but that certainly keeps things interesting! There are members of the team who work set hours in the office and don’t take any work home, which they really appreciate, but for me it works better to have less time at my desk and finish my work elsewhere when I need to. As long as we get the work done, working patterns can be flexible, which I really value.

  • What are the best things about working in your role?

The variety of people and subjects I get to work with is fantastic, because of the breadth of the BEAMS School. The RCO team is also varied, but we work together really well and each bring different perspectives and expertise so are always learning from each other. The atmosphere in our office is very collegiate, and we share a lot of our work but also personal experiences which has helped us form a close knit unit. I think personally that the flexibility, visibility and security of the role are valuable. A lot of the researchers we work with are very appreciative of the help we give. As someone who thrives off supporting others, this is a great bonus for me.

  • What are the downsides/challenges?

There are some regular tasks which involve a lot of emailing around academics to request help with mock interviews or reviewing, often at very short notice. Academics are generally extremely busy and it can be very difficult to keep asking them to do extra work when you know how much they already have to do. We also have to be very resilient to failure, because the reality is that only a small percentage of research applications are funded. Most academics will only submit a few applications each year, but we are working on new applications every week. When you have worked extremely hard with someone on an important proposal that they (and you) are strongly committed to, it can be difficult to take the news that it hasn’t been funded. Similarly, but almost harder, when we run internal selection panels we have to tell unsuccessful applicants that their application hasn’t made it through the internal stage, which can be difficult. Finally, we are often working under pressure to tight deadlines, which are not always easy to predict. So this job wouldn’t suit someone who needed a very structured and predictable workload.

  • Is a PhD essential for your role? 

Having a PhD (or equivalent) is an essential criterion for this role, but not because of the subject-specific expertise. We all review grants in all areas, not just our own subjects. Having a PhD helps us to be more credible in the eyes of the academics we support. I don’t actually think it is or should be a necessary requirement for applying to do the job, because the skills I need for my role were not learned doing my PhD, but it is one indicator of academic experience which definitely helps.

  • Where would someone go in their career from here?

Research support is a rapidly expanding field in Professional Services. I think the skills are very transferable to research in other sectors, but the university sector is UK and worldwide so there is a lot of choice. There are currently roles across 4 pay grades in our team, so plenty of scope for progression. UCL has 3 Research Coordination Offices across its 4 Schools, so there are often secondments or jobs available. I am also going to do a secondment at EPSRC, one of our key funders, for 6 months which will give me some insight into how our grants get reviewed and assessed – which I am really looking forward to.

  • What top tips would you give a researcher interested in this type of work?

Do some shadowing – we have set up shadowing opportunities with our team for people interested in research facilitation, and this has proved very helpful. Also, there are often secondment roles across the three RCOs, so keep an eye out for those. Get as much experience as you can reading and reviewing applications from your peers, and contributing to applications to different funders.