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Welcome to Careers in Data Science & Data Analysis

Isobel EPowell2 December 2019

Data Science & Data Analysis Month

Interested in data? Have a passion for exploring information or creating solutions? Ever thought of using your skills in data management, coding or analysis as a career? Join us for Data Science & Data Analysis month to find out more about this fast-growing and lucrative industry. Come along to our employer taster session and test ut your data mining skills or attend our employer and alumni forum to hear more about the industry, its scope and the specialisms you could go into.

Thinking about attending but not sure if it’s for you?

Come along if you want to learn more about how to use data in a career or just hear from speakers with research and PhD backgrounds who have transitioned out of academia. Improving business practice, creating important analysis or implementing processes your thing? A career in data could allow you to expand the reach of your research and support an organisation to grow in so many different industries.

If you want to transition out of academia but still support research, come along to our sessions and hear how this is possible with a career in data. 

Heres what’s coming up…
Check out the events coming up this month and learn more about this expanding and research-focused industry. Understanding the meaning behind data is becoming central to all business practice. This is why careers in data span across retail, finance, government, education and more.  Check out what’s coming up and explore a career in something new! 


Careers in Data Science & Data Analysis Forum
Thurs 5 Dec, 5.30-7.30pm

Skills in research, analysis and data presentation are vital to the data science industry and are 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.

Speakers include:

Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau
“Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau is Research Fellow for Defence Economics and Procurement. She studied international affairs at Sciences Po Bordeaux (France) and holds a PhD in political science from the University Paris-2 Panthéon-Assas (France). Her PhD thesis compared French and Swedish arms export policies since the end of the Cold War. Lucie’s current role involves, inter alia, data collection and analysis, catering and updating datasets on military expenditure.”

Dr Liam Duguid
“Liam has been worked in data science for the last 4 years and just moved organisations from Capita to HCL. His role has focused on data preparation, algorithm design and machine learning development along with implementation. The new role will be using these skills and others such as natural language processing to solve problems in Data Science Consultancy. He previously completed a master in Theoretical Physics at UCL followed by a PhD at Royal Holloway in High Energy Particle Physics working on dielectron decays in the ATLAS experiment at the LHC.”

Sign up on MyUCLCareers Today


Employer Taster Session in Data Analysis – Led by Celonis
Mon 9 Dec, 12.30-2pm

Please bring your laptops!

Process Mining – Understanding The Story Behind the Data
Validating meaning behind data patterns can sometimes be tricky. Very often we can identify trends but struggle to understand the root causes and the story behind them. Process Mining is a useful method to reconstruct the as-is process behind the data and use sequential analysis of activities over time to visualise bottlenecks and deviations based on data stored in IT systems.

With its academic DNA Process Mining has not only turned into a budding research field but also transformed the way companies operate. The talk will cover an introduction to Process Mining both from an academic and applied perspective, its application in data-driven management today as well as a hands-on case study in the software. The session will also include insights into the unicorn story of Celonis.

Sign up on MyUCLCareers Today


What else can you do to get career ready?

Alongside this, we have a team of careers consultants with research backgrounds who work closely with UCL’s researcher community and can provide support regardless of whether you’re looking to continue in academia or explore other options. Our “Researcher appointments” can be booked at any time through your myUCLCareers account and can be used to cover a range of queries from exploring options to getting support with applications/interview preparation. The careers consultants also run separate workshops covering a range of topics on academic and non-academic career routes for researchers.

Details of the full events programme can be found here

Reflecting on UK & Global Health Careers for Researchers

Isobel EPowell29 November 2019

UK & Global Health Month… let’s reflect:

As our month exploring careers in the UK & Global Health Sector comes to a close, we are reflecting on an interesting and diverse industry. Opportunities not only lie in research, medical and scientific support but also right through to outreach, charity work and public engagement. From our month of events and expanding on a common understanding of public health, it is clear this topic falls into four main categories: Protection, Promotion, Prevention and Innovations.

We reflect on these areas, what they encompass and the top tips received…

Prevention

This is all about reducing the impact of preventable health conditions. Supporting the public to improve national wellbeing and prevent diseases. Top tips from our speakers?

  1. It’s your career path – Don’t be put off by pressure from elsewhere. If academia isn’t for you, there are loads of great opportunities in supporting health prevention organisations to improve global wellbeing whilst utilising your research skills.
  2. Research the industry  – Not only the big public health organisations and funders are recruiting health prevention researchers, but tones of smaller organisations, charities and start-up are also looking to hire people to act on consulting bases and in research globally

Health Promotion

This area is all about education. If your interests lie in supporting communities and improving awareness of health this could be an area to explore more. Top tips from our speakers?

  1. Volunteer to get a headstart – This sector is dominated by charities and NGOs. The best way to get your foot in the door is by showing a real passion through volunteering. This can be tricky but doesn’t have to be time-consuming – many organisations are looking for short term support or long term help on a less regular basis.
  2. Content creation is key Skills in social media, design and writing can be really key here. If you enjoy communicating socially and creating content whilst utilising your degree knowledge to educate others this could be a good fit

Click this link to read more on Prospects.ac.uk 

Protection

Interested in epidemiology or researching into infectious diseases? Prevention is all about keeping the public safe from epidemics through research and emergency strategy. Top tips from our speakers?

  1. Explore your options There are tones of options to progress in this sector and whist the tradition routes may be suited to your interests, you may find a smaller organisation supporting government work could be more your thing
  2. Know your passion – often these roles can be quite specialist so be sure you are interested in the subject and want to make a real difference in that area

Health Innovations

Got a great idea to improve engagement? or change health strategy? There’s a growing trend for health start-ups so if you’ve got a great idea or are doing research in an area you think is inefficient this could be your answer. Top tips from our speakers?

  1. Be sure it’s for you It is really important to be sure. This is a risky and time-consuming way to go that may not work out. But if you think you’ve got a chance to make a real change – then try it out. Check out UCL Innovation & Enterprise to find out more
  2. Don’t be put off by pressure from others If you know you’ve got an idea you want to push forward and have accounted for all the risks then following your passion is central to becoming a health innovator. Leaving academia and starting out on your own comes with a lot of risks but also means you can create your own career.

So, what does this all mean fo you?

After hearing from professionals working across roles as health researchers, consultants, innovators and entrepreneurs the biggest piece we got was explore your options, explore your skills and take a chance on something different. Map out your key skills, not only your research expertise but those soft skills you’ve learnt along the way.

Explore the key skills this industry often looks for:

Fancy supporting the general wellbeing of the public? You’ll need…

  • Specific knowledge & have researched specific areas of health prevention
  • A passion for improving wellbeing and strong interpersonal skills

Want to work in a health promotion charity? You’ll need…

  • Skills in marketing, whether that be creating promotion materials, creating content or design
  • communication skills and public speaking could be key here

Want to explore health consulting? You’ll need…

  • Expert knowledge of a key health area
  • presentation of research in an easily digestible way and strategic management of projects

Interested in innovating, creating your own startup? You’ll need…

  • An unwavering passion for your subject and a clear strategy for your idea
  • top-level networking skills and expert-written skills

Finding an industry where your skills as research are valued and utilised may seem tricky but you can find roles across all sectors and industry. This is where our themed months come in to play, if you’ve decided health organisations are not for you, join us on another themed month and hear more about careers in Data Science & Data Analytics, Communications and Research, Government, Policy and Higher Education…. the list continues!

Come along to our events and find out how your skills are so transferable across the sectors and explore how you could branch out to support an organisation to develop!

Check out our full programme of researcher events on our website today!

Welcome to Careers in UK & Global Health

Isobel EPowell6 November 2019

UK & Global Health Month!

Interested in becoming a healthcare scientist or working in research, development, biotech, or clinical trials? What about working in global health environments? Supporting health organisations as an advisor? Join us for UK & Global Health month and learn more about this industry. Come along to our beyond academia skills session and test your commercial awareness skills. Gain tips on how important showing your big-picture industry awareness is and what scope there is to reframe the way we see the public health sector.

Thinking about attending but not sure if it’s for you?

If you’re interested in the wellbeing of the public and want a role that not only utilises your researcher skills but allows you to support local national or even global communities, public health could be for you. Public health roles focus on the key areas of health protection, health prevention, health research, and education.

Outreach and engagement are key areas in which research skills are vital to this industry. Educating the public on health and wellbeing, preventing global epidemics and researching the impact of lifestyle on our health are just some of the great opportunities this industry can offer you. If you want to continue in a role which utilises your research skills but stay within a health sciences industry, maybe UK & Global Health is for you. 

 

Heres whats coming up…

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. Check out the events coming up this month and learn more about this diverse and global industry. Careers in public health often span across public sector healthcare, charities, NGOs and research organisations.


Researchers Skills Beyond Academia Session
Mon 11 Nov, 12.30-2pm

Could Venture be a faster route to curing cancer? Led by Deep Science Ventures

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.
Many of our largest sectors such as pharma and healthcare are driven by scientific innovation and the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of science. Yet, as products and markets become more complex and internal R&D sees lower returns, the linear process of academic research (grant -> discovery -> venture -> push to market) has become ineffective at realising and capturing value. Deep Science Ventures are shifting the paradigm in applied science through a new framework for launching science companies. In this workshop, we’ll explore the commercial landscape of pharma/healthcare through the lens of entrepreneurship.

Sign up on MyUCLCareers Today


Careers in UK & Global Health Forum
Mon 25 Nov, 5.30-7.30pm

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.

Our first speaker is a Health Content and Public Engagement Specialist – Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

“I was responsible for the strategic development of the charity’s health content and engagement programmes. In that role, I focussed on making co-produced, evidence-based information and campaigns to help empower people to make informed choices about their health. I have run national roadshows, lead sessions at key conferences around patient experience, facilitated health professional learning workshops, and worked with my team to deliver health promotion projects across the UK.”

“My PhD training has been invaluable and some of the key transferable skills include: understanding scientific writing and academic research, conducting research and handling data (quantitive and qualitative), being able to explain complex jargon in plain English, using my editing and writing skills, presenting at conferences or facilitating small groups, my experience of project management including budget, team and strategic management and the ability to work independently. “

Sign up on MyUCLCareers Today

 


What else can you do to get career ready?

Alongside this, we have a team of careers consultants with research backgrounds who work closely with UCL’s researcher community and can provide support regardless of whether you’re looking to continue in academia or explore other options. Our “Researcher appointments” can be booked at any time through your myUCLCareers account and can be used to cover a range of queries from exploring options to getting support with applications/interview preparation. The careers consultants also run separate workshops covering a range of topics on academic and non-academic career routes for researchers.

Details of the full events programme can be found here

 

Reflecting on Finance & Consultancy Careers for Researchers

Isobel EPowell30 October 2019

Finance and Consultancy Month… let’s reflect:

As Finance and Consultancy month comes to a close, we are reflecting on what has been an insightful and engaging collection of events. Whilst taking the leap out of academia can seem like a daunting and unfamiliar prospect our alumni and professionals have given us plenty of reassuring and motivational messages throughout the month. The first key area of reflection for this month is therefore on transitioning.

Transitioning out of academia and into a corporate role…How do you deal with any attached stigma?

  1. It’s your career path! Everyone takes a different route to find their thing – don’t be afraid to acknowledge that academia may not be for you. Check out our previous blog post on this
  2. There is a world of research beyond academia. So many roles within finance and consultancy are research-focused – Check out our post by economist Keith Lai for ideas
  3. Your interests can be applied across the sector. Branching out and exploring other options can broaden your horizons, make you more employable and expand the practical reach of your research expertise. Consultancy is a great way to do this, offering your expertise to support businesses to grow.

Moving between academic and non-academic arenas, is it possible?

  1. Yes! Many people still contribute to academic papers alongside their roles, if publishing is your passion there are always ways to continue…
  2. Some organisations hire for roles with this in mind, creating and publishing research can be part of your job! Check out a previous blog on this
  3. Balancing the two may not be your thing. Many finance or consulting roles require strong research, writing and publishing skills – just utilised in a more corporate setting

The best and worst parts of a non-academic career, is it really for me?

  1. Stability, consistency and great benefits. The biggest response to this from both our finance and consultancy panels was the increased stability, lack of stress around funding, working more collaborative and less sporadic work schedules.
  2. It all depends on what you want… teamwork, deadlines, short projects and managing client needs are central to careers in finance and consultancy, so, if this isn’t for you, it may not be the right career path. Don’t Panic! There are plenty of industries where other skills are more suited. Key an eye on our blog for more case studies.
  3. Longer more intense working hours and less autonomy. Despite this, many of our contributors mentioned the increased satisfaction from shorter lead times and a better work-life balance.

So, what does this all mean fo you?

After hearing from professionals working across roles as consultants, economists, data scientists and traders the biggest piece of advice about their industry is to decide if it really is for you. Map out your skills, your interests, what drives you, how you like to work and see if that aligns with a career in the Finance or Consultancy worlds.

For example, in consultancy the key skills required are:
Teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, confidence under pressure and adaptability

Often consultants are working towards:
Fast-paced project delivery
managing a diverse portfolio of clients
and engaging a variety of industries

Roles are more structured and strong commitment is needed:
Core working hours mean more stability but overtime is frequently required to deliver projects
Consultants may work client-side within a given week, so travel is important
Managing projects within cross-organisational teams mean flexibility is key

These are the key aspects to explore before diving into applications. Is this for me? and what kind of working lifestyle do I want? 

Finding an industry where your skills as research are valued and utilised may seem tricky but you can find roles across all sectors and industry. This is where our themed months come in to play, if you’ve decided finance or consultancy organisations are not for you, join us on another themed month and hear more about careers in UK & Global Health, Data Science & Data Analytics, Communications and Research, Government, Policy and Higher Education…. the list continues! Our speakers have come from backgrounds in physics, biology, maths, humanities and more ending up in completely different industry utilising those same core skills they learnt in research.

Come along to our events and find out how your skills are so transferable across the sectors and explore how you could branch out to support an organisation to develop!

Check out our full programme of researcher events on our website today!

 

Introducing your first researchers’ careers month…

Isobel EPowell1 October 2019

Welcome to Finance & Consultancy Month!

Explore your career options beyond academia

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 a member of 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 into 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*

Thinking about attending but not sure if it’s for you?

Research skills are becoming more vital to industries across the board, with the financial and consultancy industries being no different. For our first themed month, we have loads of chances for you to meet alumni working in these industries and gain vital careers support from organisations which hire at PhD/researcher level. All the alumni attending events completed PhDs and are therefore great examples of the kind of roles you could get into in these industries. Specifically, those roles which you may never have considered. Each themed month is designed to be accommodating to all degree backgrounds and therefore speakers and hosts will cover a wide range of industries and careers within finance and consultancy across the traditional and non-traditional sectors.

Whilst transitioning out of academia can be an unfamiliar and daunting prospect, there are tons of amazing organisations looking for researchers with specialist knowledge that can support their business. The financial and consultancy industries not exempt from this, and are some of the biggest research recruiters in the corporate business world. Whilst your background may not be in business-related subjects, the skills that you have learnt through studying both independently, as part of cross-college teams and the strategic planning of your research projects means you may have many of those basic core competencies required in this sector.

Interested? Here’s what’s coming up

During our forums and workshops, you will have the chance to meet recruitment specialists and alumni working in these industries – read more below! Alongside this, we will be having guest blogs and interviews from alumni who will be attending events to talk you through their career path. So even if you can’t attend an event,  there are still plenty of ways for you to learn more about the industry. Want more specialist support? Here at careers, we have a dedicated team of experts who can support your researcher journey. Find out more here.


Interested in supporting businesses and individuals with your research expertise? Consultancy could be for you. Come along to our consultancy panel and hear from consultants working in the life sciences, financial services, health, and technology sectors.

Employer Forum: Careers in Consultancy
Weds 16 Oct 19, 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

Capco, a global management and technology consultancy dedicated to the financial services and energy industries will be attending this event. I asked their representatives, Chris & Steve, both UCL Alumni and PhD holders to give us a key tip for researchers that they wish they’d know.

“Don’t underestimate how valuable your transferable skills are, and don’t be afraid of taking a step back in order to progress on a new path. When I started at Capco I was much older than my peers, and felt overeducated too, but that PhD experience built my intellectual confidence, my work ethic, my ability to deal with and explain complex problems and those things helped me to have a lot of success and work on some really interesting problems in my new industry” Chris Rahnejat & Steve Harrison, Capco

Find out more about who’s coming and what to expect on the event booking page


Wondering what your options are for a career in finance? There are tones of opportunities that could utilise your research skills. Come along to this panel covering careers in analysis, economics, forecasting, risk management and more.

Employer Forum: Careers in Finance
Mon 21 Oct 19, 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

As an Economics Adviser for the Office for National Statistics, our first speaker on this panel Keith Lai has expertise on financial statistics. Keith provides in-depth economic analysis on important economic indicators such as GDP, inflation, unemployment etc., to enhance the public’s understanding of the latest development in the economy. We asked Keith “What’s your advice for someone looking for a role outside of academia?” 

“be brave in branching out of your initial research expertise – all the skills developed during the PhD have way more transferability than you may think!” Keith Lai, ONS

Find out more about who’s coming and what to expect on the event booking page


But, how do I know if I like it or not? If you’re considering a career in consultancy but you’re unsure what the day to day might look like, come along to this taster session to give it a go!

Employer Taster Session in Consultancy
Tues 29 Oct 19, 12.30 – 2.30pm

This employer-led careers taster session for consultancy will allow you to 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


Here’s how to book your space

This term we will be taking all research student and staff bookings for all researcher career 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 – As this programme of events is a course part of the doctoral Skills development programme training points are still attributable.
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 information on training points please refer to the Doctoral Skills Development programme website and follow the how-to guide

What else can you do to get career ready?

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 and non-academic career workshops. These specialist sessions are open to both research staff and students with some dedicated sessions for each.

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.

 

 

Employability skills training and employer led events for UCL researchers

Vivienne CWatson30 September 2015

UCL_CareersWeekEmployer-Led Careers Skills Workshops

Are you interested in brushing up on key employability skills and meeting/networking with employers who are keen to engage with researchers?

For both academic and non-academic careers, these workshops help you identify and develop core competencies which are vital for you to compete in the job market by demonstrating the transferable nature of the research skills you have acquired.

Day/Date Time Title Employer
Thurs 15th Oct 2:00pm – 4:00pm Introduction to Negotiation Skills Capco
Wed 21st Oct 5:30pm – 7:30pm Case Study Interviews Oliver Wyman
Wed 28th Oct 5:30pm – 7:30pm Networking skills Civil Service Fast Stream
Thurs 19th Nov 2:00pm – 4:00 pm Group Exercises and Assessment Centres PwC
Thurs 26th Nov 5:30pm – 7:30pm Interview technique Ark Schools

 

To find out more about the programme please go to: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=928

Research students book a place here: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=928

Research staff book a place here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/signupform/

 

Careers in Technology: Employer Forum for PhDs and Researchers

Thursday 29th October 2015 5:30pm to 7:30pm

The aim of this event is to help PhD students and other researchers 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 IT & Technology 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:

Dr Salvatore Scellato  – Senior Software Engineer, Google

Dr David Houseman – Quantitative Analyst, G-Research

Dr Paul Loustalan – Patent Attorney, Reddie & Grose LLP

Dr Peter Johnson – Research Scientist, Schlumberger

Dr Nadia Frost  – Senior Solutions Analyst (Business Analysis), Thomson Reuters

To find out more about the programme please go to: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2193

Research students book a place here: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/course-details.pht?course_ID=2193

Research staff book a place here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/signupform/

 

Find out about the specialist careers support provided by UCL Careers for researchers here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/specialistsupport/researchers

 

 

Are you cut out for academia?

SophiaDonaldson20 August 2015

leave-academia-before-postdocsPeople leave academia for all sorts of reasons. For some it’s an active choice: maybe they want more job security or a better work-life balance, or maybe they’re just not as fond of research as they had once anticipated. For others the decision may be taken out of their hands, as they move from post-doc to post-doc, finding it increasingly difficult to secure the next role or chunk of funding. Dr Shelley Sandiford, ex-researcher and founder of science communication business Sciconic, has written a Next Scientist article to encourage those in the latter group to make the move out of academia before “wasting years in postdocs”.

The article isn’t for the faint-hearted. As Sandiford sets out the difference between PhD “Student As”, those with potential, and “Student Bs”, those who will never make it, she attempts to send out an early wake-up call to those she says simply won’t succeed in today’s competitive academic sector. These are students who’ve found themselves with disappointing PhD projects in poorly-resourced and/or unsupportive teams, and who haven’t built a respected research profile by the end of their doctoral degree.

But Student Bs shouldn’t feel too bad, because Sandiford says they’re the norm not the exception. In her opinion, “upwards of 90% (or more) of PhD students SHOULD LEAVE Academia“. Indeed, we know that the vast majority of PhD grads do eventually leave academic research. And outside of academia, the playing field is level; PhDs, whether they’re Sandiford’s Student A or B, are all high achievers with an equal chance of building successful, fulfilling careers.

So are you a Student A or a Student B? If you’re feeling strong enough (!), give the article a read and see. If it feels a little too cutting in places, remember that Sandiford considers herself to be an ex-Student B, so her harsh words are an attempt to save others from making the same post-docing mistakes she feels she made. If you don’t have the time or the stomach for the full article, why not try out her handy “Do you have what it takes to become an academic?” flowchart, right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving a PhD to become a social entrepreneur

SophiaDonaldson12 August 2015

Most of our researcher career case studies focus on people who have completed their PhDs. But what about those who leave before the end of their doctoral degree? Considering your career options is a big task for anyone, but it may feel even more daunting if you’re leaving a course early.

I’ve worked with students who for a variety of reasons have given up on their PhD, and despite their concerns, it hasn’t hampered their careers. Although they may not have gained the title, they still gained the valuable transferable skills of a PhD-holder.

Fiona Nielsen is a nice example of this. She left a genetics PhD in her final year, but used the skills and knowledge she’d acquired to set up Repositive, a social enterprise that aims to speed up genetic diagnostics and research through efficient data access solutions.

Fiona came along to our Researcher Life Sciences Careers Fair, where she told us about her career journey. You can watch her interview here.

Fione Nielsen

Sticking up for STEM women

SophiaDonaldson22 May 2015

Displaying Studies show that women leave academic research in larger numbers than men, and are poorly represented at higher academic levels. Initiatives like Athena SWAN have been set up to address the problem, but there are other sources of support out there too. One example is STEM women.

The site was put together by Dr Buddhini Samarasinghe, Professor Rajini Rao, and Dr Zuleyka Zevallos, three women with PhDs who wanted to generate open debate around how to improve the situation for women in STEM. Over the next few days, we will hear from each of these women about their own career journeys. Here, Buddhini tells us a little more about the site.

How did you first start the website?

Back in 2012, I think it was on International Women’s Day, someone on Facebook shared a list of female scientists whom you may or may not have heard of. Obviously Marie Curie was in it, and there were lots of other black and white photos of women who were mostly already dead. Great that such a list is being shared, but I figured I should put together a list of more current female scientists to whom people could better relate. I used Google +, which was pretty new at that time and had lots of female engineers and scientists who were posting publicly about their work. So I started compiling a list of their names and ‘shared’ them around, making a group of strong female role models who could inspire people. Off the back of that, I teamed up with two other female researchers and launched a website to celebrate females in STEM, and to comment on the current issues they face.

What kind of things does your website cover?

We profile successful female scientists, and host Q&As with them, to help inspire the next generation of female scientists. For example, we featured an amazing woman called Annika O’Brien who runs robotics workshops in disadvantaged areas in LA, and has her own company now. And we also talk to high-profile male scientists to try to get their input in how to improve the STEM environment for women.

And we call out and comment on current issues that are relevant to women in STEM, such as sexism. As an example, last year the journal of Proteomics published a paper on the sequencing of the coconut genome, and the picture that accompanied a link to the article featured a scantily-clad woman holding coconuts in front of her breasts, which was extremely inappropriate. One of my fellow website authors wrote to the journal’s editor to complain, and she received a less-than-satisfactory response from him, telling her it was all normal, and as a physiology Professor she should be familiar with female physiology!

The photo has since been taken down in response to a twitter storm involving outraged people like us. But I think this perfectly highlights why a site like ours is needed. Firstly, the picture went up when it absolutely shouldn’t have. But secondly, when it was taken down, the apology was far too wishy-washy; they were sorry we’re offended, but they didn’t really acknowledge what they’d done wrong. Which is why things like this keep happening e.g. The Rosetta-landing shirt controversy. Some people think it’s silly to focus on these things, that at least the situation today is better than it used to be. But these are the microaggressions that make women feel less welcome in the male-dominated scientific space. We want to shine a light on sexism within STEM, to help the women facing it know they’re not alone, and to try to move the field forward.

Picture courtesy of STEM women, taken from their Nature blog article.

Transitioning from PhD to consulting

SophiaDonaldson24 February 2015

Bernardo FotoBernardo Alvares is a final year PhD student in Cancer Immunology at UCL who is passionate about entrepreneurship and social-impact projects. Prior to joining UCL, he completed a BSc in Biomedical Science at Cardiff University and worked at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. Bernardo has recently secured a full-time position with the management consultancy firm McKinsey and Company, in the Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) office. In this article, he shares some tips for PhD students thinking about transitioning from academia into business.

How did you make the decision to leave academia?  

Whilst working at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, I enjoyed working as part of a vibrant team where scientists put their knowledge and skills together to deliver results. I also found it extremely rewarding to understand the relevance of my project in the context of the company’s drug-development strategy. I felt that my future career needed to have elements of teamwork, fast-pace and a strong customer focus.

After my participation in extracurricular activities whilst at UCL, in addition to personal experiences such as travelling and team sports, I discovered my leadership abilities and realised that my excellent interpersonal skills were not being fully utilised in academic research. Moreover, I attended a range of business and entrepreneurship courses at UCL and enjoyed reading about business, psychology and management, and realised that my interests are not limited to science, which made me really curious about exploring other career options.

Why management consultancy?

I first learned about Management Consulting at the UCL Management Consultancy fair, and the diversity and fast-paced nature of the career really attracted me. I followed up this initial interest by attending additional company presentations (at UCL and off-campus) and speaking with current consultants. I realised that a career in Management Consultancy would allow me to build on the skills developed during my PhD, such as problem-solving and delivering effective presentations, combined with the opportunity to developing leadership and project management skills.

I also strongly believe that understanding how organisations are structured, the challenges they face and how to improve their performance will equip me with the skills and contacts to build my own venture in the future. Strategic consulting offered an excellent match as it addresses the important questions that can change the direction of the world’s biggest organisations.

How do you think the skills you learned during your PhD will help you in the role?

In my opinion, running a PhD project is analogous to managing a small company, where you need to spot a “gap in the market” (something unique in your research area), plan a strategy to tackle the issue, mobilise resources, meet deadlines, manage expectations and communicate clearly with your stakeholders (such as the PhD supervisor). I feel that overcoming the uncertainties and complexities of a PhD helped me build the strength and endurance to tackle any challenge in my life. I came out of my PhD as a more entrepreneurial and confident individual, ready to make something new happen and embark in new challenges!

A series of skills developed during my PhD are extremely relevant to consulting. For instance, breaking down complex problems into manageable solutions, and then putting the parts together and reaching conclusions in the context of the overall problem. In addition, communicating research findings in a clear and effective manner to audiences who are not necessarily familiar with details of your work (such as the CEO of a major corporation) is part of a daily life of a consultant.

Are the skills acquired during your PhD enough to break into business?

The simple answer is: NO. I have met several PhD students who decided to move into business towards the end of their PhDs without having complemented their CVs in order to get there. Although some organisations do hire PhD students primarily based on the analytical/research component of their PhD (eg. maths/physics students who can develop ultra-robust algorithms for trade modelling in finance), most companies are looking for a broader skill-set in addition to the problem solving, self-motivation and attention to detail PhD students usually excel at. Relevant skills include leadership, commercial awareness and teamwork – which can all be developed through both your research and extracurricular activities.

I decided early on during my PhD to build my CV to make the transition into business. My first “target” was leadership skills. I joined a very entrepreneurial society called Enactus, which basically uses business skills to develop projects that bring benefit to society. I set up the UCL plus project and led a team of 9 students helping young people write CVs, prepare for interviews and develop transferable skills, in partnership with UCL Careers Services. We run over 50 hours of workshops in five schools and community organisations in deprived areas of Camden (North London). This project also served as a good example of Entrepreneurship since we did something no one at UCL had done before and received really good feedback from teachers and the young people.

I developed invaluable skills in business and management after attending a range of courses run by UCL Advances, such as Business Marketing, Enterprise Bootcamp and the Value Creation Workshop. I also attended a London Business School MBA elective course titled strategic innovation, where I learned about the challenges that businesses face and how decisions are made, in often ambiguous and uncertain scenarios. I would really recommend these courses. UCL is such a fantastic and entrepreneurial university and I feel very privileged to have had access to all these resources.

How did you make sure your applications and interview performance were as good as possible?

Put simply, the interviews for the most prestigious consulting companies are tough. The case-type interviews require a great deal of preparation. Although there are examples of students succeeding with only one-two weeks of preparation, I strongly believe those are exceptions. At the beginning I felt helpless at solving cases. However, with effort and preparation you can get there! I prepared for about 2 months (15 hours/week), initially by reading case books and then solving a total of about 30 to 40 one-to-one cases in the website Preplounge, which I would really recommend. I practiced with people from all over the world, including MBA students from the world’s top business schools.

In the case interview (which probably requires a separate blog article), the candidate is required to tackle a business problem in a structured and logical manner. You need breadth/creativity and depth. For instance, list a range of factors relevant to the given problem, but also justify why and prioritise (ie. which factors are the most important and why). When given graphs and tables, you need to identify the key drivers, perform some basic maths, relate your findings to the overall problem and suggest a course of action. The ability to summarise and communicate your findings at the end is also very important.

Regarding the competency part of the consulting interview, I was asked about examples of leadership and managing conflict in a team. Again, having a high-impact and interesting story (usually in the context of managing and working with people) will put you in a good spot. It is also important to structure the answer well, and you can book an appointment at UCL Careers to practice.

Any final thoughts?

My take-home message is: be curious, get out of the lab and try the amazing resources UCL has to offer, even if you are not sure if you want to leave academia. You never know what you may discover about yourself and the opportunities out there. I also strongly recommend the employer events run by UCL Careers service and the one-to-one appointments with the Careers Consultants, some of whom are ex-academics themselves and have experience supporting PhD students who are exploring alternative career options. Wish you the best of luck in finding the path that will help you shine!