UCL Researchers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Head of UCL Careers

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

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    What career skills were you shouting about in 2015?

    By S Donaldson, on 6 January 2016

    Are you sick of 2015 countdown lists yet? No? Good, because here’s another one.

    Have you heard of Coursera? It’s great. It allows you to take free online courses in pretty much anything, and those courses are taught by university experts. In fact, UCL careers consultants helped deliver a course in Employability Skills in 2014 and 2015.

    And now the good people at Coursera have put together a handy list of 2015’s most coveted career skills. When you complete a course you receive a certificate, and get the option of posting said certificate to your LinkedIn profile. By assessing courses with the most certificates posted to LinkedIn, Coursera have worked out the top 10 skills people most wanted to show off to recruiters last year. It’s a nice measure of what’s hot with employers right now, with ‘digital marketing’ coming out on top, and ‘data science’ featuring heavily in the top 10. Check out the full list here.

    And to be notified when the employability skills course runs again, visit the course page and add it to your wish list.

    How to become a lecturer

    By S Donaldson, on 12 January 2015

    Last month saw the publication of Getting the First Lecturing Job. Careers experts, including UCL’s very own Dr Calum Leckie, surveyed academic staff across 22 UK universities and several research disciplines to gather information on what’s needed to make the jump from early-career researcher to lecturer. The resulting report provides valuable insight into how academic employers think, with quotes on topics ranging from the value of teaching experience to the potential challenges of career breaks. It’s well worth reading the full 57-page version when you have time, but we’ve summarised the main points below.

    Research, research, research

    Unsurprisingly, demonstrating an “independent research profile” emerged as key to obtaining a lectureship. But quite what that means depends upon the discipline. Academics from the biological and physical sciences are likely to expect potential lecturer candidates to have publications in high quality journals, and to provide evidence that they can win funding through independent fellowships or joint grant applications with senior researchers. There are fewer opportunities in the arts and humanities to gain publications and funding, and this is reflected in a lower expectation for these achievements in lecturer candidates. However, publications and book deals are still desirable.

    Candidates from all disciplines should be able to articulate clear research plans and ideas that are independent of their supervisor, and they should be able to convey how their future direction might fit against the backdrop of a target university’s current research. So when applying for lectureship roles, it’s important to investigate what’s already going on in the department and wider institution. Are there opportunities for interesting collaborations? Are there research gaps that your work could fill?

    Teaching

    Teaching forms a key part of most lecturer positions, so teaching skills are valued highly. But this doesn’t necessarily mean candidates have to have a wealth of in-depth teaching and supervisory experience, and a higher education teaching qualification is by no means essential. You can demonstrate an understanding of teaching in a variety of ways, so seeking out opportunities to mentor undergraduates or to act as a tutor in small tutor sessions or lab sessions could be enough. An enthusiasm for teaching, and a willingness to take on new topics, is extremely important. So again, do your research. What would you like to teach, and how? Is there something missing from the current curriculum? Your PhD/research subject could be your unique selling point, but in most cases you’ll need to show a willingness and ability to teach broader topics too.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that the amount of time dedicated to teaching versus research can vary hugely between different lecturer roles, so make sure you fully understand what’s expected from each academic position before you apply (for more info, check out this blog on the rise of teaching-focused academic jobs).

    Personal attributes

    Academics expect potential lecturers to display certain ‘softer’ skills, namely good communication skills, excellent teamworking skills/collegiality, passion, commitment and enthusiasm. These qualities are perhaps less tangible than ‘research’ and ‘teaching’ skills, and candidates may have a tougher time working out exactly how to get them across. In terms of commitment, passion, and indeed collegiality, doing your research on the role, the department, and the wider institution, and understanding how you could fit in, work with others, and improve things, always helps to show your dedication, and it’s something we find candidates frequently forget to do.

    Interestingly, academics don’t expect candidates to have previously performed many of the peripheral duties involved in being a lecturer. For instance, experiences of public engagement, forming collaborations, people management, and administration, all emerged as ‘non-essential’. They were of course considered a nice bonus. And they may be great ways to demonstrate some of the personal traits academics do consider to be essential, such as commitment, communication and teamworking.

    The Royal Society wants us all to take responsibility for your career

    By S Donaldson, on 9 January 2015

    UCL careers booklet picAt UCL careers, we’re pleased to see a growing recognition of the career development needs of PhDs. This is exemplified by the Royal Society’s recent publication of ‘Doctoral students’ career expectations: principles and responsibilities’. It’s clear that there are many more PhD students than there are academic jobs, so getting a PhD doesn’t necessarily set you up for an academic career. With this in mind, the Royal Society’s report sets out how PhD supervisors, and higher education careers professionals like us, can best help students prepare for the path ahead; universities have a duty to make PhDs aware of their options, and help them develop, recognise, and market skills that will be useful both inside and outside of university research.

    But the report also outlines the active role that PhD students themselves must have in the process. There’s lots of information, advice and guidance available to most students, and it’s important that individuals make the time to seek it out. With quite specific and practical advice, such as “students should assess their own understanding of their skills and achievements every six months and discuss their aspirations with supervisors”, the short report is well worth a read, whatever your career stage.

    You can access the full document here, and an interesting blog from one of the authors here.

    Apply now to Focus on Management 2014

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 6 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:

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    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.

    focusonmanagementpic

    What do PhD graduates do?

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 21 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.