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Helpful tips for choosing between academia and industry

uczjvwa6 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

uczjvwa4 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.

Helpful tips for researchers looking for career inspiration

uczjvwa14 May 2014

If you are a researcher thinking about leaving academia, deciding what career is right for you can sometimes be tough and you might not know where to start. A very helpful blog post has been written by Kate Murray (Careers Consultant based at Kings College London) that suggests methods researchers can use to find out what job they really want to do.

 Her blog post can be found here: http://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/kclgradschool/2014/05/08/another-way-of-finding-career-inspiration/

The Education Sector’s Many Possibilities Forum

uczjvwa29 April 2014

The Education Sector’s Many Possibilities: Employer Forum for PhDs and Researchers

5:30pm – 7:30pm on 29th May 2014

The aim of this event is to help PhD and other research students with their career planning by providing an opportunity to question, to hear from and network with employers that come from a variety of roles within the Education sector, who are PhD holders themselves. The panel of speakers will give tips on how research students can use their qualifications and experiences to enter this field as well as information about their sector.

Panel of speakers will be:

Steve Cross – Head of Public Engagement, Public Engagement Unit, UCL

Satnam Sagoo – Head of Education and Training Unit, Public Health England

Marek Kukula –  Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich

Vicki Symington – Education Coordinator for South East England, Royal Society of Chemistry

Chris Wilson – Regional Director for London and the South East, The Brilliant Club

Hilary Leevers – Head of Education and Learning, Wellcome Trust

To find out more and to read the speakers’ biographies please go to: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2462

PhD students can book a place via the following link : http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2462

Research Staff can book a place via the following link : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/signupform/

Apply now to Focus on Management 2014

UCL Careers6 March 2014

This post originally appeared on the UCL Careers Blog

Back for another year, UCL Careers’ flagship event Focus on Management is open for applications. Taking place from Tuesday 10th – Thursday 12th June at a central London location.

  • Want to develop the vital skills you need to stand out in the workplace?
  • Need to get your commercial awareness to employer standards?
  • Want to improve your understanding of management?

Then Focus on Management 2014 is the course for you.

This year the course is being sponsored by ICAEW, a world leading professional membership organisation for the accounting, financial and business world. Get your applications in by Thursday 27th March 2014.

focuson managementpic

What will I do during Focus on Management?

Focus on Management is a 3 day course packed full of activities which will give you an interactive and rewarding immersion into the world of business. Your team-working, problem solving and presentation skills will be put to the test as you work in small groups to crack a range of business challenges.

  • Day 1 focuses on management essentials and the skills you need to stand out in the workplace, with real-world insight provided by small and medium sized companies (SMEs).
  • Over Days 2 and 3 you work in teams, facilitated by a team manager, on business case studies from four major graduate employers. The team managers, from a variety of organisations, will trial different managerial styles over the two days giving you the chance to observe what is most effective.

You will get ample opportunities across the three days to meet and learn from different companies involved in delivering the course. Last year included contributions from Barclays, Sainsbury’s, Capco, Civil Service, Accenture, Cancer Research, Deloitte and Getty Images.

See what last year’s students said about the course:


How do I apply?

For further information and to apply for a place, click http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/students/skills/focus. The deadline is Thursday 27th March 2014 11:59pm. We can only accept applications online; if a disability means you need the form in a different format please contact UCL Careers (careers@ucl.ac.uk).

Demand for this course is high and we receive many more applications than there are places, so take care when completing the form.


Interested in a career at ATASS Sports?

uczjvwa17 February 2014

ATASS Sports will be visiting the UCL campus to meet UCL PhD students on Thursday 27th February. See below to find out how to book an appointment.

ATASS Sports is a statistical research consultancy providing high quality modelling and analysis for the sports industry.  We combine expertise in statistical analysis and research with in-depth sports knowledge, and dominate the sports modelling industry in the UK and abroad.  We actively recruit at PhD and postdoc level, and are seeking people with experience in statistical or mathematical modelling to join our research teams.    

 ATASS Sports will be conducting a ‘Recruiter in Residence’ session by meeting students on a one on one basis at UCL on the 27th February. The appointments are 15 minutes long and will run throughout the afternoon starting from 14:00. If you think a role with us would be of interest, either now or in the future, please contact Richard Hill at rich.hill@atass-sports.co.uk to book an appointment. Further information about the company can be found on our website – www.atass-sports.co.uk.

What do PhD graduates do?

UCL Careers21 October 2013

If you are thinking about possible career options after your PhD, and would like to know what kind of jobs are available for doctoral graduates, then check out Vitae’s labour market  information resources, which provide:

  • an analysis of the main employment sectors for doctoral graduates; including the roles doctoral graduates commonly occupy in these industries, an analysis of future skills needs, and opportunities in these sectors
  • profiles on some of the most important occupations for doctoral graduates, including numbers of doctoral graduates entering these jobs and their disciplinary backgrounds
  • advice on using labour market information to assist with career planning

PhD graduate careers case studies     

In addition to the labour market information, careers case studies can help to illustrate the wide range of career options available to you after graduation. You may also find that they provide useful advice, and give you a valuable insight into day to day life in different job roles.

  • UCL Careers was commissioned in 2010 to survey the career destinations of UCL research students who graduated between 2004 and 2008. 115 graduates were successfully interviewed. You can examine the results in the downloadable documents here (arranged by faculty). A summary of the overall findings are also available as a Powerpoint presentation
  • We also have a selection of great resources  to help you access information  covering topics from academic career planning to networking and job hunting
  • You can also check out Vitae’s comprehensive library of PhD careers case studies

There is considerable variation between disciplines, between institutions and between different academic roles. It is a good idea to talk to academics and to those trying to secure academic posts in your field about their career stories so far, and assess how closely their experiences match your own situation. Don’t forget that you can also access support and guidance from UCL Careers.  Research students have access to a specialist Careers Consultant in twice weekly sets of appointments. These last 30 minutes and you can discuss any career related issue.  Find out more about Availability and Booking.

PhD Life Science Careers – Why should UCL PhD students apply to IMSCG?

UCL Careers20 February 2012

The last in our series of guest blogs by PhD holders who work at IMS Consulting Group. You will find more information about PhD life science careers and IMS Consulting Group in our in our Careers in Clinical Research, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Forum for PhD/research students which will be held on 28th February 2012. Go to the Forum page on the Graduate School website for more details about this event.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Currently there are more PhDs in IMSCG than I can count. PhD students typically apply for consulting because they find that they can apply their problem-solving skills in new ways, work in team settings which can make a measurable impact, and be exposed to a variety of different projects in a short amount of time. In contrast to your PhD, at IMSCG we work on projects that are around 12 weeks long and often can be much shorter; as a result, the breadth of topics is extensive.

In addition to the formal introductory training, everyone in the organization, from peers to senior team members, is interested in your learning and progress. On projects, you will therefore receive on-the-job training and informal mentoring support, which greatly contribute to your professional growth. Furthermore, every new starter is assigned a coach who is part of the senior team – your coach offers mentoring support and advice, and tracks your progress within IMSCG in order to identify particular development needs.

One aspect of IMSCG that I have come to appreciate is that client management comes when you advance to consultant, which is significantly sooner than in other consulting firms. In addition, going to and presenting at client meetings often occurs at the analyst level, which offers the opportunity to witness firsthand how clients think. Given that as a PhD I had presented at few conferences and frequently at weekly scheduled lab meetings, I relished the opportunity to join and present at meetings, which I found to be a welcome challenge and a great opportunity for professional growth.

Overall the environment at IMSCG has many of the things I like about the university environment without the long, drawn out project work or failed experiments. At IMSCG, as in academia, you think of creative ways to solve a problem, you have a network of people who can support and you have the opportunity to work with really smart people.

Maria Kosmaoglou, IMS Consulting Group

PhD Life Science Careers – Why would IMSCG recruit PhDs and how can your PhD help you in a consultancy role

UCL Careers7 February 2012

Here is the 2nd of our series of guest blogs by PhD holders who work at IMS Consulting Group. You will find more information about PhD life science careers and IMS Consulting Group in our  Careers in Clinical Research, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals  Forum for PhD/research students which will be held on 28th February 2012. Go to the Forum page on the Graduate School website for more details about this event.

IMSCG’s business is management consulting to the life sciences sector. So it makes sense that the company has two main priorities when recruiting:  the competencies required to be a management consultant and a strong interest in, and perhaps some background knowledge of, the life sciences sector. PhDs, especially those from the natural sciences, are therefore an excellent group in which to find promising candidates with this combination of characteristics.

The tendency for natural sciences PhDs to be interested in the life sciences sector is not surprising (although the emotive and pervasive nature of healthcare in our lives also attracts many PhDs from other disciplines). But what about the management consulting competencies?

A major part of the core skills of a management consultant is bringing objectivity, structured thinking and analysis to a complex and unstructured question. Consultants are curious people who enjoy problem solving. PhDs similarly tend to be curious by nature, interested in solving problems and combining objectivity and analysis in one form or another to a specific issue.

My PhD has definitely been a helpful starting point for these core management consulting skills. It gave me experience looking at a large and complex overall question and coming up with a way of approaching that question in individual steps. It gave me experience thinking about how to organize and present complex data and how to communicate the outputs of my research. And during my PhD, I took ownership for the outcomes of my own work, giving me a good sense of accountability.

That isn’t to say that my academic-type problem solving and analytical skills were enough on their own for management consulting at IMSCG. The thinking in consulting is much more explicitly structured and analytical than in academia; I therefore had to sharpen up on these skills before the interviews. I also had to learn how to do it in a much faster-paced environment, more intensively within a team, and with much shorter time periods for producing and showing people outputs of the work.

As my PhD was in the life sciences it also helped with understanding the more technical side of the life sciences sector. But if you don’t faint at the sight of words like atorvastatin or bevacizumab, then you can also learn that on the job!

Joel Hooper, IMS Consulting

PhD Life Science Careers – Why my time at UCL drew me to IMS Consulting Group

UCL Careers1 February 2012

In the lead up to UCL’s Careers in Clinical Research, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Forum which will be held on 28th February 2012, here is the first in a series of guest blogs by PhD holders who work at IMS Consulting Group.

I spent just under five fun, happy and, I’d like to think, productive years at UCL working towards my PhD in Neuroscience.  The first of year my PhD was actually a rotation year where I undertook three 3-month projects in labs at UCL, Kings and Imperial, following which I was able to choose where I wanted to spend the next 3-4 years for my main PhD project.  My choice was UCL, for a number of reasons:

Firstly, the campus has a great location in the heart of the city and most importantly it accommodates the majority of UCL’s degree courses on one large and single site. This gives UCL that rare feeling of a real campus university within London and creates a sense of community that is perhaps more associated with universities outside of the capital. Another attraction of UCL is its diversity, both culturally and academically. One day you might find yourself sitting in the Print Room Café alongside a Pharmacology lecturer from St Albans and the next day you’ll be sharing a table with a Law PhD from Greece. During my time at UCL, which was spent mostly in various laboratories and science buildings around the campus, I connected with a number of intellectually curious and academically brilliant people from all over the world with the same ambition to strive for excellence and challenge themselves; this is what makes UCL one of the world’s leading universities, particularly in life sciences.

The things I appreciated the most about UCL are things that equally drew me to IMS Consulting Group: people are proud to work at IMSCG and there is a strong emphasis on teamwork and community. IMSCG has a non-hierarchical structure which means that everyone’s opinion counts. Furthermore, people of all nationalities join the firm from both science and non-science backgrounds but one thing that is certain is that, like at UCL, all are welcome and all are appreciated. This opportunity to network with and work alongside so many great thinkers is something I had wanted to maintain upon leaving academia and thankfully this has been the case at IMSCG.  Our people continually challenge each other to better ourselves, though never to a level that creates competitiveness amongst peers. Because of our intellectual approach to project work, IMSCG continues to be at the forefront of the healthcare industry and is able to make a real impact on issues that our clients face and that will shape the industry for years to come.

Richard D’Mello, IMS Consulting Group

Find out more about life science careers for PhDs and IMS Consulting Group at the Careers in Clinical Research, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Forum.
To register for this event see the  PhD Employer Forum – Careers in Clinical Research, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals page on the Graduate School website.