Find Out What Alumni Did Next

If you’re a member of LinkedIn, have you noticed the (fairly) new alumni search they’ve introduced?

It’s a way of getting an overview, by university, of where alumni are now (although obviously, it only includes those on LinkedIn who have included their university in their profile). That gives you the impression that you have to be an alumnus of the university you’re searching for, but in practice, it looks like you can filter on any university you wish.

As well as searching by university, the standard filters it offers are:

  • the years they attended that university – this means you can filter out all those with bags of experience, and look at more recent graduates, if that’s helpful
  • location – for example, for the University of Manchester, there are 73,097 alumni on LinkedIn living in the United Kingdom, of which 15,049 are living in London and 10,676 are living in Manchester
  • where they work – unsurprisingly, 1,754 alumni from the University of Manchester “work” there – but that includes all our current students who have been smart enough to register on LinkedIn, as well as those of us who get paid to be here! A more useful search, for example, shows that there are 144 alumni of the University of Manchester on LinkedIn who work for Microsoft, only 44 of whom live in the USA.
  • what they do - this seems the least useful filter, as it only shows a limited number of categories. You can use the search function within the filter but it rejected most of the categories I tried. Oddly, it will let you filter on “Real Estate”, but not education or any permutation on scientist, so I assume it has lumped a large number of jobs into “Administrative”.

Rather than using the “What they do …” filter, I had more luck by using the search box below the filters. “Scientist” then came up with over 2000 University of Manchester alumni, though it looks like that included any mention of “scientist” in their profile, not just their current role.

As well as overall numbers, you also get links to the profiles which match your filters. However, as with everything else on LinkedIn, you only get to see limited information on the people who come up in the search if you’re not already connected to them in some way. This is another good reason to start connecting with people you know (the best reason is below *).

Where you can see profile information, it’s a good way of seeing how they got into the job/location/employer which is of interest to you. This could give you clues as to how to start your career and where it could then lead.

Be warned though, this is not meant as a way of stalking and harassing complete strangers who just happened to go to the same university as you. You still can’t randomly spam people whose profiles pop up, asking them for help with your career.

However, the more genuine connections you have on LinkedIn and the more groups you join, the more chance there is that you’ll find someone who’s a connection of a connection who might be able to give you some advice. Then, you need to approach your mutual connection and ask if they will pass your request on to their contact.

That’s the reason I always advise only connecting with people you know well, and why I ignore all those messages from total strangers who want to “add me to their professional network”. (I also don’t rate highly anyone who just sends that standard automatically generated message, even if I do know them – always personalise your connection requests.)

Have fun filtering – if nothing else, it’s a really good procrastination tool.

* The best reason for postgrads to start connecting right now with people you know on LinkedIn
Lots of students tell me they don’t know anyone to connect with on LinkedIn. What they mean is they don’t know anyone in a position of power who can help their career today. This might be the case, but they do know their fellow students. Postgrads also have friends from their undergraduate degree.

Link to your friends now, while the connection’s still current.

They may not be in a position to offer you a job right now, but imagine what your network will be like in as little as 5 years time. Those friends will be working in companies and universities all over the world, with contacts of their own. Think of LinkedIn as an investment for your future – a bit like your degree, but at considerably lower cost to yourself!

Regulatory Affairs – Getting An Entry Level Position

Working in Regulatory Affairs is one of those “less well known but interesting career options”, particularly if you want to combine technical knowledge with a commercial role.

Regulatory Affairs Officers, Executives and Managers are responsible for pulling together technical, development, quality and safety information on a product, and negotiating with licencing authorities for those products which are regulated. This is particularly associated with the pharmaceutical industry (where critical information needed will also include clinical trials results) but regulated products are also found in the medical devices and chemical industries. The TOPRA (“The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs”) website has a good description of what Regulatory Professionals do.

One difficulty, however, is often: how do you get your first post*?

You don’t often see “Regulatory Affairs Trainee” posts advertised, whether at graduate or postgraduate level. I have seen occasional “graduate trainee” posts advertised for the big pharma companies, but only sporadically.

Here are 3 strategies for finding your way into this career:

1. Start somewhere else and move sideways
This is the most common route into regulatory affairs. It’s such a wide role that having an understanding of technical development, or quality, or safety, or clinical trials could give you an awareness of regulatory frameworks and a good foundation to make a sideways move.

For those aiming at the pharmaceutical industry, TOPRA surveyed its members, asking “Please indicate the area of work of your last NON-regulatory job in the pharmaceutical industry”. It’s a really revealing list showing the routes which have led regulatory professionals into their current role. This was a 2006 salary survey in which 127 people replied. At that stage around 17% had entered Regulatory Affairs directly from university, but most had come from research, QA, QC, safety and other regulatory roles before ending up in Regulatory Affairs. Another survey of 200 UK regulatory professionals with between 2 and 5 years experience shows only 10% going into the profession straight from university. (You can see the results on a pdf, from this page on the TOPRA website on career pathways – no date given unfortunately, but the pdf dates from 2010.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if the number going straight from university to regulatory affairs roles continues to shrink. The organisations who traditionally could afford to take a chance and train up new graduates and postgraduates were the big pharmaceutical companies – and look what’s happened to them over the last 10 years. There’s still lots of employment in the pharmaceutical sector but the growth areas are in the smaller companies and contract research organisations who often want some sort of proven knowledge or experience of regulation before taking you on.

Another way of finding out how people got into their regulatory roles is to search LinkedIn profiles. You’ll need your own LinkedIn account to get access to search, and you’ll get more information on individuals’ career paths if you have some sort of connection with them (1st or 2nd degree ie you know someone who knows them; or if you are in the same group). It doesn’t mean you can randomly send out job requests to anyone you find but it could give you some ideas of alternative starting points.

2. Broaden your search terms
I searched the scientific and health jobs we’ve advertised through CareersLink over the past year, using the term “regulatory”, and found we’d advertised more jobs related to scientific regulation than I’d expected. Most of the posts working within scientific product regulation weren’t called “Regulatory Affairs Officers” or trainees. They were often safety, quality, technical or experimental officer roles – but when you read the descriptions, they could give you the experience you’ll need to make the move into a purely regulatory role later.

3. Be prepared to start at the bottom
If you haven’t got the experience needed to go straight into a regulatory affairs role, and someone else isn’t prepared to invest to retrain you, you have to decide if you’re prepared to invest in yourself.

Unless you’ve already got experience in a related role, you’re essentially a career changer, and most career changers have to move backwards to ultimately move ahead in their new career. (I know a bit about this. When I moved from a senior management role in industry to a trainee careers adviser, it took me 7 years to get back to my original salary – but I have absolutely no regrets.)

Regulation involves a lot (and I mean a lot) of admin and documentation. You may feel your PhD prepared you for more than a job generating and organising quality or safety documentation relating to regulatory control, but when you’re a senior Regulatory Consultant on ~£100K, responsible for Western Europe or Asean markets, you’ll look back and realise that investment was worth it.

Further resources
Here are a few other online resources for would-be regulatory affairs professionals:

NB. I wouldn’t recommend relying on either of these agencies (or others) for finding you an entry level post in regulation. Specialist agencies can be great once you’ve got experience. However, they’re unlikely to be very interested in you if you’re looking for a career change (why would a company want to pay an agency a fee to find someone with no relevant experience?!).

* This was partly in response to a question from “Weebz” on our Feedback page (thanks – hope it answers your query) but it’s a question I’ve been asked by several scientific postgrads when they’ve discovered that this sort of career exists.

Vacancies: PhD E-Tutors, Manchester Leadership Programme

We’re recruiting more e-tutors for our undergraduate Manchester Leadership Programme. If you have an interest in

  • sustainability in its broadest sense, whether economic, environmental or social
  • the challenges which leaders face today in all kinds of organisations
  • teaching and supporting undergraduates, using online discussions and face-to-face contact
  • taking part in novel assessment and teaching methods
  • hearing leaders talk about their experiences (Dame Ellen MacArthur was the hot ticket a couple of years ago – see more guest lecturers here)

then this could be for you.

The e-tutor roles take up an average of 5 hours a week but can vary quite widely with peaks coming at assessment time. You are paid at the GTA rate (currently £14.29 per hour). We specifically recruit PhDs for these roles as you need to be trained and ready to go before the start of the autumn term and be available for the full academic year, including attending scheduled MLP lectures (so wouldn’t suit most Masters).

Some of our recent e-tutors commented:

“I learned how rewarding teaching can be. I thought that there would be aspects I enjoyed about it, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to.”

“From tutoring on the MLP online unit; I have gained a wider outlook on life, have enhanced my tutoring abilities and developed new ones, and have had a lot of fun.”

“In terms of development for postgraduate students, the interdisciplinarity of the programme, an increasingly important factor in the research community, enables eTutors to develop transferable skills in terms of communicating and sharpening positions, both through identifying gaps in student responses but also by taking on board student positions.”

“I have learnt a huge amount of practical skills and now have more confidence in this area that will be useful in the future, and is particularly in demand for academic posts.”

If you want to read more comments from some of our e-tutors, have a look at this blog post from a couple of years ago – “What has being an MLP tutor ever done for me?“.

Further details:

Full details of the posts, including application form, are on the MLP e-tutors webpage.

The closing date is 6th August at 12 noon (we will look at all applications up until the closing date). The interviews are scheduled for 20th, 21st or 22nd August, and if you get the post, you must also be available for e-tutor training on either Monday 3rd September or Monday 17th September.

I’ve also updated some FAQs from previous MLP e-tutor posts – just click below to get some inside info.

Continue reading

NHS Scientist Training Programme

I know lots of postgrads are interested in the Scientist Training Programme vacancies in the NHS in England, so here are a couple of news items I’ve received in the last few weeks:

2012 recruitment round – the competition
7,735 people applied for the 205 posts on offer in 2012, though as you could apply for up to 3 jobs/locations, you can probably triple that to get the number of applications per job. At least it’s better than the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme where they had approximately 12,000 applicants for 150 places.

Interview process
We spotted a document intended for interviewers (link to a pdf) which gave the format of the interviews (but not the questions!) It’s a bit like speed-dating (a format they’ve been using in medicine for a couple of years) so it’s best to have an idea of what you’ve got coming to you before you get there.

Even better than this though, we’ve had some feedback from someone who was offered a place on the Medical Physics strand of the Scientist Training Programme, so here’s what they went through:

Online Application
This is the most important part of the application process and as there are no phone interviews it is the only opportunity you get to “sell” yourself initially. Really think about the answers that you give here, particularly the essay-style questions. Write your responses in a word processor then copy and paste them into the form as the page will time-out if you try and write everything in there directly. The online application process probably takes about 1-1.5 hours. For 2012 intake the applications were open only for a short period so make sure you keep updated on when applications open!

Online tests
If your online application is successful you’ll be invited to take some online tests. These are in maths and verbal reasoning. Pretty straight forward, just make sure you’re somewhere quiet and you’re not going to be interrupted.

Interview
If your application and test results are good enough you’ll be invited to final interview. My interview was in Birmingham (All STP positions are interviewed centrally so expect to travel).

The format is almost like a speed dating night! Four different stations, ten minutes at each, move on to the next one when a bell is rung. It’s quite an odd setup and you end up talking to 8 different people but it’s good. If one station doesn’t go too well you’ll be moving on to the next one in a minute or two.

As I mentioned, there are four stations. Two are scientific questions, based on medical physics (or your chosen speciality). I was asked questions on X-ray, image mathematics, nuclear medicine and some general questions on radiation. Definitely worth brushing up on your medical physics before the interview! I was unable to answer some of the questions on nuclear medicine as I’d not studied it at the time of interview but tried my best to figure out the answer at the time and I think that attempt was enough to impress. The other two stations are an HR station (questions about your personality and ambitions etc. Enjoy this station, it’s the nicest one and a bit of a break! Really sell yourself at this point). And the last station is a general science and healthcare station with questions about your experience and also some questions on statistics and processes.

The interview stations can happen in any order.

The upshot of all this was that he was offered the job – but very unfortunately, he didn’t achieve the 2:1 required, so the offer was withdrawn. Unsurprisingly, his most important advice (to undergrads) was “make sure you work hard to get the required grade!!” (Really hope he gets something else soon as he’s obviously good at getting through the whole application/interview process).

We won’t know which jobs are coming up when, though I’d look out from December onwards, but don’t panic if they don’t get advertised until February (as usual).

If you want any further info on the application process (for 2012), have a look at my previous post:
NHS Scientist Training Programme – 21st February, 2012

Pathways – The Panels Revealed

Only a couple of days to go, and the panels and panellists have now been pinned down, barring last minute cancellations and additions (always a feature of Pathways – we just take it in our stride …).

This year, in addition to the titles of the panels and panellist profiles, our Event Manager, Anna, has put together a summary of what to expect on the panels. Personally, I think this is the best way to choose which panels to attend – more so than trying to find panellists who happen to match exactly your career aspirations or your discipline.

There are 24 panels running in total; you’ll be able to attend four panels if you come for the whole day. In response to feedback last year, we’ve reduced the number of panels by avoiding running the same panels more than once. However, we’re still expecting over 60 panellists to attend, so this does mean that you’ll have to prioritise the panels you want to see. All sessions are relevant to delegates from all disciplines, unless otherwise stated below.

So here they are, in all their diversity.

Academic roles for…..
Our panels comprise those who’ve pursued their careers within an academic context including those who have research roles and teaching positions, at all stages of progression. (Separate sessions for Humanities, EPS & FLS/MHS.)

Achieving work/life balance
For many people, their job is only a part of their life plan.  Family, personal interests and other commitments are just as important.  Our panel will talk about how they have managed to achieve a work/life balance, the compromises they may have made to make this happen, the difficulties and rewards of keeping this balance.

Communicating Science
A PhD can take you into a broad range of science communication roles –  from being a facilitator of public engagement and outreach opportunities to those involved in shaping policy.  Our panel can outline just some of these options.

Developing your skills and experience through volunteering
Our panellists have all undertaken voluntary work and will explain how you can make the most of such opportunities to improve your employability.

Industry versus Academia
Our panels will compare and contrast their experiences of working inside and outside Universities – Which have they enjoyed more? What are the benefits that each can offer? How have they moved between the two areas?

I’ve done things that aren’t related to my PhD – so can you!
Whether they planned to or simply have found themselves taking a ‘scenic’ career path, our panellists will talk about the positions they have held which are not related to their specific discipline of study.  A session for anyone who wants to change direction or simply wishes to find out what’s possible with a PhD. 

Marketing yourself and your PhD
How do you articulate the benefits of having studied for your PhD and convince employers that you have the skills they are looking for?  Our panel will draw on their own experiences and of providing skills training to PhD students to discuss how you can ensure you give yourself the edge over other applicants.

Non-academic roles in universities
Enjoy being part of a University environment but not sure you want to pursue an academic, research or teaching career?  Have you ever thought about the wide range of non-academic jobs within universities?  Come along and find out more.

Options for ……/More options for…..
We’ve brought together panellists who are connected by discipline area (separate sessions for Humanities, EPS & FLS/MHS) but who’ve followed a range of different career pathways to give you just a flavour of the options available to you.

Research roles outside universities
What are the opportunities to continue a research career outside Universities?  How do these roles differ? Where do you find them and how do you get them? Relevant for Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical & Human Sciences.

Self-employment, starting a business and enterprise opportunities
If you like the sound of being your own boss or have a great idea that could earn you a living, this session is for you.  Our panellists are a mixture of those who work freelance, have portfolio careers, have set up their own businesses or support others in developing their enterprising ambitions.

Teaching positions in HE, FE and Schools
Whether you want to stay in a University or would consider working in a school or further education college, our panel can share their experiences of following a teaching based career.

What do you do if your career isn’t going the way you want?
Our panellists have faced challenges or obstacles to pursuing their career ambitions.  They will discuss how they managed these situations, the decisions they made, what they learnt from the experiences and pass on their tips on how to stay positive when things aren’t going to plan.

Working Overseas
Panellists will talk about their experiences of pursuing careers in different countries, working cultures/environments and the advantages and disadvantages in comparison with working in the UK.

Working as a Postdoc
Our panel will talk about their experiences of working in Postdoctoral roles – the highs and the lows. Relevant for Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical & Human Sciences.

More info:
We’ve also now uploaded the final (until it changes on the day :-)Timetable of sessions (.docx file) and Panellist Profiles 2012 (.pdf file), for all those of you who like to get their day sorted beforehand.

Pathways – Get In While You Can?

We’re seriously discussing the future of Pathways, our annual PhD career options event on Friday 8th June (previous blog post here). It’s a massive event, gets great feedback from attendees, we love hearing from our panellists and we get a buzz from seeing our researchers getting excited about their future.

However, every few years, you need to review whether even successful programmes are still the right way to go.

So, this is just to forewarn you, that if you’re thinking “I’ll go next year” – there’s no guarantee it will still be there! Register now to ensure your place.

Some of the amazing things our PhDs get up to
Of course, if we didn’t run it again, we’d miss out on hearing about some of the downright unexpected things some of our PhDs get up to in their careers.

The prize for this year’s “Most unusual career path for a PhD in Atomic and Molecular Physics” goes to Patrick Tierney, who works for Leisure Technical Consultants Ltd – as an “Amusement Ride Inspection Engineer” (really hoping to hear that one).

Patrick inspecting a rollercoaster


What can you do with a Materials Science PhD?

Unfortunately, I never did get to hear last year’s winner of the “Most unusual career path for a post-doc materials scientist”, and she can’t come this year. However, it’s for the very good reason that Beth Mottershead’s cake business is going from strength to strength. If you want to drool (or order some fab cakes), have a look at her beautiful website, Cakes by Beth

Cakes by Beth

Paid P-T Jobs For PhDs: Applications Advisers

If you’re a current University of Manchester PhD who will still be here next year, do you have what it takes to be one of our Applications Advisers?

What’s an Applications Adviser?
Our Applications Advisers provide the bulk of our “Quick Query” advice for students who want help with their CVs and applications, during the Autumn rush. It’s quick fire: only 15 minutes to review a job spec and the application and give considered feedback to help the student improve – then straight on to the next one. You could be seeing CVs from any discipline, from any year – including other PhDs.

This role is part-time, initially for the first semester with the possibility of extending into the second semester, with hours varying according to levels of demand from students. Each Applications Adviser will work ideally at least two shifts of two hours per week (morning, lunchtime or afternoon) with any additional hours by agreement. The rate of pay will be £8.75 per hour.

Why do it?
It’s a much appreciated service by all those who use it, which is one of the rewards for doing the job. Another is the fact that you can help students make real improvements to their applications. Just by asking a few pertinent questions, you can help them realise that they have loads of other important information they can add to an otherwise rather “thin” CV (often it’s the best students who discount their real selling points). Frankly, I find it humbling sometimes, seeing some of the amazing things our students have already achieved (particularly you postgrads). Oh, and you get paid, of course!

Do you need experience?
You don’t have to be a careers adviser (though if there are any out there, we’d be keen to hear from you), but it would help if you had some relevant experience, such as supporting students, coaching, recruitment or HR. It also helps if you’ve already been employed, so you know what it’s like to go through the selection process. Whatever your background, you’ll go through training, observation and feedback before being let loose to advise on your own, and you’ll have ongoing support from members of the Careers Service.

Language requirements
You do need to have impeccable English communication skills, both written and spoken. However this certainly doesn’t exclude our international PhDs: many of our clients are international students and it helps to understand the challenges of writing good business English when it’s not your first language.

Why do you need a PhD – what about Masters?
It’s purely logistical. We need Advisers trained and ready to start by the first week of term, as that’s when our rush starts. We also hope to use some or all of the Advisers into the second semester. In general, this excludes both new Masters (not here for selection or training) and finishing Masters (not available after December). However, if you have the right experience and you can fit in with our logistical requirements, argue your case. (It will be a good test of writing an effective covering letter.)

I’m interested – what do I do next?

  1. Look at the vacancy on CareersLink for further information an details of how to apply. Not registered? Get registered now! You’ll need to be familiar with our services if you’re going to work for us.
  2. Talk to someone in the Careers Service about the role, ideally in person. Either call in or talk to us over lunch at Pathways, our annual careers event for PhDs on 8th June.
  3. Book time to talk to someone as part of our Quick Query service. Just tell our information staff (they’re part of the selection & training team for these roles; they also book our quick query appointments) and they’ll book you in – either call 0161 275 2829 or call in to the Careers Service in Crawford House, entrance opposite the Aquatics Centre.

Critical dates:

  • Closing date for applications: 22nd June 2012
  • Interviews: 18th & 25th July 2012
  • Training will take place: 21st & 22nd August 2012 and will be paid. You need to be available for both dates.

Making A Difference To Global Poverty

If you’re wondering if your Masters will ever get you the job you want – or frankly any job where you can make a difference – this is just the boost you’ll need.

Eleanor Carey finished her Masters at the University of Manchester last year and is now working at the Co-operative Group. This guest post shows how getting on to a graduate scheme can help you make a difference.

Guest post: Eleanor Carey 

Hi All,
A quick update from someone on the other side of their dissertation (yes, you will finish it one day!) Whether you are scrambling to finish final essays or getting down to the hard graft of research for your dissertation, I’ve been there and I’m here to share a little of what life is like post-postgrad.

My Masters postgraduate degree
In September of last year I graduated with an MSc Poverty and Development from the Institute of Development Policy and Management which sits within the School of Environment and Development.

The experience of doing the masters was invaluable and looking back I am so grateful to have been challenged and stretched as far as I was. It has certainly made a huge difference to my analytical skills and any employer will value someone who can think creatively, thoroughly, and see connections that others cannot.

Simply having a Masters helped me to get my current position so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that higher education and the world of work are completely unconnected. Your grades do matter as employers will see these as indicative of how hard you are willing to work.

Getting on to a graduate scheme
I was fortunate enough to be accepted on to a graduate scheme with The Co-operative Group and so had just 10 days off between handing in my dissertation and starting here at the head offices in Manchester city centre.

If I had one piece of advice for finding a job after your post grad, I would say start looking early, especially if you are looking at graduate schemes as most will have a September start date and close their application process well before that.

I was hired at The Co-op in late May though others had been hired as early as January. Also, try to find an organisation which is a good fit for you. This might sound obvious, but I definitely went through a stage of panic in which I applied for any and every job I could (not a great strategy and very time consuming). So, make a list of criteria that are non-negotiable. For me, I wanted to stay in Manchester, needed a paid job, and something that would develop my skills.

Think about stepping stones to your future
I would say as well, try to think outside your subject of study. Even if your first job out of your masters is not your dream job, if it is something that can help build your skills or allow you to network with people that you may want to work with in the future, then this can be a good stepping stone. So, once you’ve found somewhere you think might be suitable, do as much research on the organisation as you can. Try to understand their ethos and what they are looking for in a candidate, and think of how you can demonstrate that you match their criteria.

The Careers Service at the University of Manchester was excellent during my application process and I would strongly recommend that you utilise any services, such as mock interviews, that they offer.

Keep building your CV
Building your CV can be tough, especially if you have gone directly from undergrad to postgrad. I have no new pearls of wisdom on this topic. The usual suggestions really are the best: volunteering, part-time jobs, extra qualifications. The aim of the game is to show an employer that you’re not afraid of hard work, that you can balance your time well, that you are willing to go the extra mile to do something that isn’t required of you, that you can work as a team and self-motivate. If you’ve got the chance to learn a language, set up a society, or join a sports team then take it.

Working with the Co-operative Group
Since starting on the scheme I have created, launched, and managed to completion a membership campaign on Fairtrade, assisted in organising an event expected to attract over 10,000 people, managed business development with community co-operatives in the UK and have been involved in looking at our trade with European co-operatives.

As the co-operative ethos encourages giving back to the community and as part of our commitment to tackling global poverty, I am a Global Poverty Ambassador representing The Co-operative Group. As part of this activity, there is a presentation called “1.4 billion reasons” that is being shown around the country which is an introduction to issues surrounding poverty and ways to end it.

If anyone is involved with a group/ organisation/ business in the Manchester area that might be interested in seeing the presentation, please do not hesitate to get in touch on
Eleanor.carey@co-operative.coop

The graduates also run a charity which fund raises for youth groups in Greater Manchester. In addition, I am involved in the Manchester Gold mentoring programme.

All of this demonstrates that it is possible to get the experience you want and to develop the skills you need if you look for and take the opportunities that come your way. This might mean volunteering some of your time outside of work, or taking on extra responsibility within your role. Graduate schemes are perfect for this kind of broad experience.

My top tip is this: don’t panic :-) 
This is a very stressful time, handing in essays, writing dissertations, looking for a job and maybe working part-time as well isn’t easy. You’ve probably also got all the mixed emotions that I had this time last year, when you just want it to all be over, but at the same time you feel the pangs of the looming end of your time as a student. Try to set yourself a time limit for job-hunting and don’t let it eat into your study time. This should still be your main focus.

I hope some of this was helpful. If you have any specific questions about The Co-op, graduate schemes, or would like to see the Global Poverty presentation please get in touch.

The very best of luck with finishing your studies and whatever you go on to do next.

Eleanor

The Big Annual Summer Recruitment Fair

I’m thinking of renaming all our events in this WYSIWYG style – because it will be BIG.

Our summer Graduate Recruitment Fair runs for two days, with different employers on each day:

It’s in the Armitage Centre in Fallowfield, in the big sports hall, and if you thought 400+ PhDs milling around University Place for our Pathways event (on June 8th) was big, try getting 3,000 students and graduates through our fair – that’s each day.

Who can attend?
Anyone! It’s targeted at those graduating in the next few weeks or months, or who have recently graduated (postgraduates or undergraduates). Although it’s run by the University of Manchester Careers Service, it’s also open to graduates of any university. In particular, we have staff from most of our local universities on hand to give advice.

It’s free, and if you register beforehand online, you’ll save yourself some time when you get there (no filling in bits of paper to get entry).

What kind of jobs will be on offer?
This fair has a different flavour to the autumn fairs. In the autumn, it tends to be the very large employers who are recruiting on to special “graduate programmes”, a year in advance. In the summer, there’s more of a mixture.

Some of the biggest names are still there recruiting (eg. Deloitte, Google, Aldi, IBM, Schlumberger, Civil Service, Dyson, HSBC, Qinetiq) but they’re more likely to be looking for people to start in the next few months (ideal for Masters finishing in early autumn) – or immediately (for anyone already looking for jobs).

There are also lots of other large to medium sized organisations who need graduate level employees in the immediate to short term. You may not have heard of some of them. They’re more likely to be specialists, working with other businesses rather than selling to consumers, or be fast-growing industries (future Googles?) who need keen, smart graduates to help build their future.

Most importantly, do check who’s going to be there before you go. If you’re dead set on one type of employer who isn’t going to be there, don’t waste your time. For example, don’t expect to see any investment banks at this time of year. On the other hand, if you’re more open minded, especially in a tight employment market, go and see what some of the people you’ve never heard of have to offer – you may be pleasantly surprised (or even get a job).

Is there any point in postgraduates going to a graduate fair?
I’m asked this question repeatedly, so last autumn, I recorded my views in this short video. As usual, the answer is “it all depends” – but if you are going, do listen to how you can get the most out of meeting employers at the fair. Too many postgrads wander aimlessly around a fair and leave, having lost a great opportunity to get the information they need to make themselves stand out.

Right, I’ve got my fingers in my ears and closed my eyes so I don’t have to watch:


What’s this PhD Zone?
As part of our Pathways programme, on Wednesday only, we have a special room set aside just for doctoral researchers. It’s a bit different to the main fair, as the recruiters aren’t all actively recruiting at the moment. It’s meant for PhDs at any stage in their degree to be able to talk to real employers (and postgraduate careers and training staff) about:

  • how their PhD might be seen by employers
  • what employers value in PhDs
  • what PhDs might do outside academia
  • how best to promote their PhD to employers

You’re also welcome (or rather encouraged) to talk to the employers in the main fair – who knows, you might find the ideal job as well as getting PhD career advice?

Around 700 researchers came along last year, so you’ll be in good company (even if you just want to share experience with other PhDs). Have a look at our PhD Zone information on our Graduate Recruitment Fair website for our official info.
Update: The PhD and Researcher Career Zone catalogue (pdf) is now available online. You can also pick up a hard copy on the day.

One important caveat though – most of the PhD Zone employers are targeting science and engineering PhDs. There are very few large employers who recruit multiple humanities PhDs each year and are prepared to staff a stand at a fair. Humanities PhDs are more likely to work for niche / specialist employers or a university. However, if you want some on the spot advice, come and talk to our careers advisers and exhibitors like jobs.ac.uk … oops, strike them off – they’ve just cancelled, the day before the event (sorry)!

Who’s coming to the PhD Zone?
Currently signed up are – AMEC, Chemtura, GVI, IBM, Instrument Design Technology, Jaguar Landrover, National Nuclear Laboratory, Pentest, Rolls Royce, Romax Technology, Schlumberger, SRG and Tessella.
Just added: Unilever and Adelphi Communicatons (local medical communications company)

Just cancelled: Paterson Institute Christie Hospital (oops, turns out they wanted to publicise their PhD studentships & didn’t realise the PhD Zone was aimed at people already completing a PhD!)

Just cancelled (2): Jobs.ac.uk (the third year running they’ve pulled out just before the event – pity, I was hoping to find out about their CV database …)

The Big Annual PhD Careers Event

Maybe that’s what we should have called it? However, we went with “Pathways” instead.

If you’re doing a PhD at the University of Manchester, or have recently completed one, or are a member of our research or teaching staff, do set aside Friday 8th June 2012 for our biggest PhD careers event of the year.

What is it?
It’s your chance to find out what PhD careers are really like.

When you’re booking a hotel, do you read all the glossy websites and believe what they say – or do you go to TripAdvisor and read reviews from people who’ve been there before ?

That’s the principle behind Pathways – you get behind the glossy employer websites and earnest careers information, and get to hear from others who have a PhD about the reality of careers for researchers.

You get the chance to hear from up to 4 panels of PhDs (from 3-6 people per panel) who talk about their careers so far and answer questions from delegates. You should come armed with:

  • lots of questions about careers
  • an open mind – sometimes, you get the most helpful careers advice from someone in a job you would never consider doing yourself.

When and where is it?

  • Date: Friday 8th June 2012
  • Timings:
    • Registration from 9.15
    • Welcome address from 9.45
    • Choose your panel sessions 10.30-11.00
    • Panels start at 11.00, 12 noon, 1.45 and 2.45
    • All done and dusted by 3.30pm
  • Lunch: Provided!
  • Venue: University Place

Who is eligible to attend?
Any current doctoral researcher (PhD or other doctoral degree) at the University of Manchester, and any current member of research or teaching staff at the University of Manchester can get a free place by registering in advance. If you graduated from the University of Manchester with a doctoral degree in the last three years, you are also welcome to register in the same way.

If you are a doctoral researcher from another university, please either contact your own university training team to see if they will fund a place (modest cost), or contact anna.lomas@manchester.ac.uk directly to arrange a place.

“But I’m more interested in postdoctoral research or teaching”
Come along – last year over half of our panellists had been post-docs. Some of them went on to become academics, some moved out of academia altogether. Find out how they did it!

What did previous delegates think of Pathways ?

“Such a wide range of friendly experts to talk to”
“I have a clearer picture of things ahead”
“I have new focus and inspiration!”

What’s great is that people who previously attended Pathways as doctoral researchers are now coming back to talk about how their careers have worked out – could that be you?