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Researchers Careers in Communication guest feature!

uczjipo28 February 2020

Researchers Guest Feature:

Taking a closer look at our monthly employer-led events topics

During our themed months, we will be taking a deeper look into each key topic. In these posts, we will be investigating what a career in this industry looks like for a researcher. Each month there will be insights from an expert who has been through the process of transitioning out of academia. Each contributor will give us their key tips for following a non-academic career path whilst letting us in on the things they wished they had known before taking the leap. Find out about the roles their organisation has to offer and get some key tips on applying.

This month it’s all about Communications…

Taking a deeper dive into the communications industry from the perspective of producer specifically looking at what this is like for a researcher, we have our contributor – Nikolay Nikolov.

Contributor Nikolay Nikolov, Senior Producer, Mashable, PhD in Anthropology UCL

Describe your role and the organisation you work with..

I manage a team of two video producers who are tasked with news-gathering, interviewing, shooting, and producing short-form videos that cover the intersection between technology and sustainability. My role is to drive the Mashable video voice forward, creating thought-provoking documentaries and series that introduce our work to new audiences and challenge norms.

Mashable is a digital media company that focuses on our shared life in the digital age and all that that entails. Each editorial vertical – video is one – has a focus that ranges from entertainment through culture to social good and science. The role of video, specifically, is to experiment with ways to tell powerful stories in different mediums – one video can be posted on Snapchat, for example, another on TikTok. The key is to find how the narrative and story corresponds with the platform and anticipated audience.

Give a brief overview of your industry and the opportunities that are available to researchers…

Journalism – and digital journalism – is a very difficult field to break into and one that often falls victim to preferential treatment, influence, and connections. Oftentimes in my career I have been encouraged to omit my academic background because it might make me seem overqualified and unemployable. That said, there are a number of incredibly successful journalists who have a strong academic background – Anne Applebaum is the first to mind. Having a PhD, at the very least, can help one build a strong career as a reporter, analyst, or opinion writer. But those type of positions tend to occur later in one’s life and are, as you may assume, highly competitive.

In terms of job titles and options for researchers, it is difficult to say without specific discussions of expertise. The world we live in is increasingly marked by disinformation and digital propaganda and I can see how certain areas, specifically in journalism, benefit immensely from people who have an academic background – climate change is one; technology is another, specifically when it comes to Open-source intelligence (say, Bellingcat or the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab). The New York Times and BBC Africa have both now created digital forensic teams that have made groundbreaking investigative work that is based on tools and knowledge that derives from a variety of academic fields.

Describe your academic background

My research was about finding a way to track how much daily life changes before and after huge societal transformations – like the socialist regimes in Europe. The way I approached it is by looking at the mass housing complexes, called ‘panelki’, which can still be found to house large portions of populations of the former socialist bloc. Because these complexes were prefabricated and largely resembled one another (in Bulgaria, for example, around two million people live in largely identical flats), my research traced how people made changes to their homes over the years – changes to the functionality, to the external facades, to the interior designs; but also social changes – who lived there, how, for how long, where are they now, etc.

What were the key skills you used during this time…

One of the key skills I learned is conducting interviews, taping conversations and taking photographs. When it comes to ethnography, especially in the urban setting, it’s a valuable skill for a journalist. Knowing how to adapt to different individuals, how to enter unknown settings (someone’s home, say), how to ask and repeat intimate or private questions and then how to transcribe and use those quotes is essentially what a lot of the hard work in reporting is all about. Particularly when it comes to features and long-form articles, that is essential.

My role is to tell powerful stories that educate people about a changing world. My academic work largely looked at how those changes occurred, so it hasn’t been useful in a direct way. But academia helps in other ways – having access to and being open to reading research papers that sometimes include incredible innovations and becoming the first to break the story that way. It helps in terms of the in-built sense of critique, where the search for plausibility and certainty is an innate goal in itself.

What did you find challenging about transitioning out of academia and how did you overcome this?

I started working as a journalism within three months of starting my PhD. I learned that, in my field specifically, an academic career was hard fought and required a lot of sacrifices in terms of financial independence and settling down. I also found academia stale – in the sense that many people, both academics and students, would end up fixed upon one subject area for extended periods of time. For me, that was simply not interesting or appealing – I wanted to have the flexibility and freedom to have more direct choices about what I could do, where I could live, and how I could earn a wage.

Conversely, what I found challenging when I started working in journalism is having no freedom over my own time and struggling to find meaning in what I did. At UCL, I got to teach first year students Philosophy, to travel across Europe and write about a subject I was deeply curious about. It’s a privilege that I took for granted because, particularly in journalism, you are accountable to both readers and editors and it is a difficult balance at times.

What do you wish you had been told when looking to transition out of academia?

I wish I was told to branch out, stay curious, meet new people. Academia can be clique-y and isolating, especially if you’re trying to change sectors all together. Staying curious means being
versatile and being able to adapt to the world as it is, not as you were taught to see it. A lot of people I know, who are around my age, have ended careers and started anew because they succumbed to the churn of a 9-to-5. Anticipating that is crucial for anyone moving on from academia. That said, some of the most considerate and nuanced people I’ve ever met were people I met during my PhD. Perhaps, at times, an undercurrent of self-confidence affected us all when it came to imagining our prospects outside of a strict academic career. I can safely say that any such worries are misplaced and, in fact, the world requires more people with expert knowledge working in places like journalism.

What is your top tip for researchers when applying to roles with your organisation..

Have a website that showcases, in a sense, your portfolio. In my case that’s www.nikolaynikolov.co – it shows all the video and radio work I’ve done. Maintaining active social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn) are key for journalism. Cover letters are key because they can provide context for someone’s interest in an entry level (say producer job) that is not reflected in their resume. My first job in journalism, at AJ+, taught me everything I know about editing video. They didn’t hire me because I was doing a PhD, they hired me because I expressed a keen interest in the areas they were covering and was ready to learn new skills.

A big thank you to Nikolay for sharing your wisdom on those key transferable skills from academia to industry and giving us a great insight into your industry. Want to hear more? Come along to our events and hear from PhD level speakers across a range of industries all with valuable insights into what life is like after academia.

Welcome to Careers in Data Science & Data Analysis

uczjipo2 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

Researchers Employer-led Events Programme

uczjipo21 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.