This page supports a series of short workshops which ran during the UKRMP Postdoc Retreat in March 2016.
We looked (very briefly in half a day!) at four main themes. For each one the slides from the workshop are included (in most cases we looked at a tiny fraction of the slides and information I could have drawn from) as well as any links to key sites or resources. Thanks to all who were involved – despite needing to cover things at breakneck pace it was great fun to work with you all.
Theme 1: Facing the challenges of a postdoc career and planning to address these. This includes the write up of your discussions about the challenges you were facing, which of these you felt were YOUR responsibility and which needed the support of others to address. Your ideas about how the UKRMP could provide career enhacing opportunities are being reviewed by the hub managers.
I’ve written a couple of guides to career development for postdocs which are openly available on the Research Staff Careers section of Newcastle University’s website.
- Getting Off to the Best Start is aimed at new postdocs and has a focus on broadening your employability
- Choosing Your Next Step looks at the steps to build academic employability and is aimed as people on their second or subsequent contract
The second part of this session looked at the qualities of successful academic leaders and the challenges THEY were facing
The themes we covered are explored in more detail in the Academics section of this site. Time managment, resilience and building a Research Profile(including on social media) are common topics I cover with academics. The uncertainty that you may feel about your chance of success on the academic path are partly because of the small number of opportunities compared to the number of postdocs chasing them and partly because of imposter syndrome – make sure you aren’t discounting yourself because of a fear that you aren’t good enough. Get support and mentoring.
Other good sites to help understand and apply for academic jobs:
An Academic Career (from the University of Manchester)
Pursuing an Academic Career (Vitae)
Academic success is increasingly about success in securing funding. Our pages on funding support the workshops we run at the University of Glasgow, so some links are Glasgow or Scottish focused, but there are lots of resources relevant to any researchers. The physics section also focuses on funding – don’t be put of the fact it’s a different discipline. Most of the advice from researchers, reviewers, funders and panel members is applicable across disciplines.
Theme 2: Boosting your CV for any employer This was the presentation about “oomph”
I’ve blogged about the ideas in a very similar presentation in my post on Impact, Initiative and Ideas
Theme 3: Understanding the range of opportunities open to academic researchers. Sarah Blackford, an expert in bioscience research careers has developed a PhD career choice tool which is worth looking at in the early stages of your career exploration process. You might also find the career stories and destinations of former researchers information on the Vitae website helpful for seeing the transitions made by other researchers. In the session I also mentioned the “Ten Types of Scientist” overview produced by the Science Council a few years ago. It’s aimed at students with the aim of illsutrating the diversity of science careers, but I think it is useful for getting you to start looking at scientific options in a different way.
Theme 4: Marketing academic research experience to a wide range of employers We had to really rattle through this, but you should be able to get personal support in your institution from the Careers Service. Most (admittedly not all) will support postdocs and many have dedicated advisers for researchers. USE THEM and if they can’t help you find out if your researcher development unit can bring in an expert. My suggestion would be Sarah Blackford who specialises in bioscience research career development and options.