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

Winning Funding For Research

If you aspire to becoming an academic, this is a topic you’ll really need to get to grips with in detail. I won’t pretend I’m any sort of expert in winning research funding – but I do know people who are.

Dr. Paul Spencer, former post-doc researcher, now researcher developer at UWE, has just written a blog post about “How to win funds and influence people“. Recommended for good advice and a very snazzy embedded Prezi from his recent workshop.

I Feel Your Pain …

Just thought I’d share some New Year careers adviser problems with you – if you’re not interested, just skip this. Have a look at some of the nice new vacancies on the Twitter feed instead.

New Year, New Challenge
I’m grappling with some challenging career issues at the moment, particularly around

  • how people choose which career to go into, and
  • why they are sometimes reluctant to let go of one “identity” and consider other possible “future selves”

In particular, I’m looking at PhDs who don’t want to think of themselves as being anything other than “an academic-in-waiting”, even when they know the stats.

I’m also pondering about all those undergrads who cling to the identity of “student” as long as possible and don’t apply for jobs before they graduate, even though that inevitably means their identity changes to “unemployed” (or sometimes “Masters postgrad”… don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone if that’s the reason why you’re doing your Masters – we all know it happens).

There are lots of careers theories, and I’ve had some good advice on starting points for journal articles on identity, career decision making and employability.

How to choose?
The problem is, I’m on unfamiliar territory with careers theory, and I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the choices in front of me; the unfamiliar jargon they use; the sometimes conflicting information. I’ve got loads of information and keep on finding more, but how can I tell which one is “the best”, and what do other people think are the good theories, and what if I choose the wrong one? That’s only the start though – once I find a theory I like, how do I actually use the information to solve the problem I’ve got?

And then I realised that whatever I choose to do, I’m getting an insight into what our students have to struggle with when trying to choose a career – all the careers information we fling at you; employer presentations which sound like so much corporate jargon; what your parents, friends, fellow students say are “the best jobs” (all different, of course); how on earth you get into those jobs from where you are now.

I’m feeling suitable chastened, and I think I’d recommend a crash course in trying to make use of careers theory for any careers person who’s getting exasperated at the lack of direction or action from their students.

Good luck to those of you making those difficult career decisions in 2012, and if it’s all getting a bit overwhelming, come and have a chat with a careers adviser. Some of us do know what it’s like to be lost in a sea of information with a difficult decision to make.

And The Winner Is … The University of Manchester

Absolutely delighted to report that this year’s “Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers” went to our website, An Academic Career.

A big thank you to all the students and researchers who have asked me about academic careers over the years – this website was inspired by you, and written for all the future aspiring academics.

Any regular readers will know all about “An Academic Career” (don’t worry, I’ll stop going on about it soon!). For anyone else who hasn’t seen it yet, the website is aimed at anyone who is thinking about becoming an academic, whether they’re a University of Manchester student or from anywhere else – all users welcome.

To quote the judge for the award, Dr Janet Metcalfe, chair and head of Vitae, the website:

“reaches the parts of an academic career that others fear to tread. It suggests that existing researchers take a hard-headed look at their career potential and ask ‘Have you got what it takes?’ It is not about being very good, but about being better than all the other very good people trying to succeed in academia – on a global scale.”

That does make it sound rather scary, but we have included lots of encouraging actions you could take, to give yourself the best chance of being one of those who make it to Professor – because someone’s going to do it … why not you?

Glitz at the Grosvenor House Hotel
The awards ceremony itself was suitably star-studded – the very witty Rob Brydon was on-form hosting the event, and Edge Hill got our award for “the table most heads swivelled to look at” with their guests Jennifer Saunders, Stuart Maconie and Baroness Shirley Williams.

We might have had a less well-known bunch of guests on our table, but we had the best time. In particular, it was lovely to welcome back Yvonne Hung, one of our former PhDs who came to me for careers advice when she was a student. She’s now in business development for IBM and leads on Manchester campus careers links – you can read about her career in a previous blog post, From Fruit Flies to IBM.

 Other than the team who brought you “An Academic Career” (that’s me, Holly Seager & Tammy Goldfeld) the most excited person on the night was Ed Butcher, our guest from Teach First: he got his picture taken with Keith Chegwin who ran the after-dinner disco (yes, the Keith Chegwin – I’m guessing he’s a big favourite with academics who must remember him from their childhood?). The evidence of “when Ed met Keith” is on the Times Higher Education website.


I’ll add more photos to the slideshow below as they come in, but here’s what we’ve got so far:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to Charles Fox, official photographer on the night for the pictures of our presentation and all the winners.

Now, normal postgrad careers service can be resumed.

anacademiccareer

Academic Careers

I’ve just done a talk on academic careers, but unlike the other postgrad talks, I won’t be able to put it online. That’s because it included lots of video of academics talking about their work, and Slideshare can’t show video clips within talks.

However, don’t worry if you couldn’t make the talk, because our website, “An Academic Career“, includes all the videos and all the information I covered, and much more.

If you’re thinking about an academic career, I’d start at “Is an academic career for you?”, either for Masters, for PhDs or for post-docs (depending on where you are in your academic career).

It’s meant to be challenging and give you a realistic picture of academia, but rather than just put you off, it aims to encourage you to take actions which will make it more likely that you are the one who ends up as a Professor.

There’s lots of stuff about how you become an academic (it’s different depending on which discipline you’re in), what academics really do and the skills they need (it’s not just about research, though that’s fundamental to most academics), links to information about academic career paths in different countries, the challenges of life after a PhD (the dreaded “fixed-term contracts”), and how to assess your chances.

Beyond that, there’s also information on finding jobs (you’re most likely to hear about academic jobs through contacts, rather than relying on adverts), applying for jobs and interviews.

We’ve been really pleased at how well this website has been received. In particular, we’ve been shortlisted for

There’s very tough competition this year (we’re tipping our friends at the ASHPIT project at Nottingham as hot contenders to win) but keep your fingers crossed on Thursday 24th November.

Sometime after 10pm, you’ll either get a forlorn “Oh well, it’s the taking part which counts” tweet, or a rather more incoherent, but happy, stream of tweets…

An Unrequited Academic Career?

The Thesis Whisperer has done it again, with another outstanding post which is too good just to tweet.

If you’ve ever harboured “feelings” for the Academy, longed for the embrace of The University or spent another night sobbing into your thesis while your friends tell you “tenure’s not worth it”, go and read

- and don’t be put off by my Barbara Cartland-esque take on it. You’ll get some wise, clear-sighted (and funny) advice from Inger Mewburn, as usual.

MLP e-Tutors – Paid Opportunities For PhDs

Once again, 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 last year’s hot ticket – 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 £14.21 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 at least one full semester, 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 – “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 8th August at 12 noon (we will look at all applications up until the closing date). The interviews are scheduled for 17th or 18th August, and if you get the post, you must also be available for e-tutor training during the week commencing 12th September.

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

Continue reading

Pathways – Almost There

Tomorrow sees the start of Pathways, our career options event for researchers. I know loads of you already know all about it, as we’ve had over 450 register for Day 1 already. This is an update on what’s on offer, including the latest programmes and timetables.

Day 1 – Friday 10th June, Renold Building (ie. tomorrow – eek!)

You can register from 9.15 onwards.

10.00-10.45
Introductory talk from Judy Williams and me, to get you warmed up for the sessions to come and get you thinking about your career, what you want and how to find out where your PhD might lead you.

10.45 – 3.30
Q&A panels, with around 70 (depending on who turns up on the day) PhD qualified panellists in a range of careers, academic and non-academic.

LATEST: Download the Panellist Profiles (pdf)

Not all panellists have completed a profile but it gives you a good idea of the breadth of experience you’ll find at the event.

On the day, you’ll also have a couple of documents to help you choose your sessions by showing you:

1. Which panellists are in jobs open to which disciplines (including those open to any discipline)

2. Which panellists are in which type of work ie

  • academic or other university research/teaching
  • business, management, professional services, admin
  • communication, HR, training
  • healthcare
  • non-academic roles in universities
  • project management
  • self-employed/freelance
  • teaching outside a university
  • technical/research outside a university

Several panellists fall into more than one type of work so our materials scientist/cake designer (no, really…) comes under “university research” as well as “self-employed”

Day 2 – Monday 13th June, Renold Building

You can register from 8.45 onwards – that’s important, because you need to choose and sign up for sessions on the day, and it’s first come, first served for some of the sessions which have limited places.

For those who have registered, we’ve sent you an e-mail with details of what you have to do beforehand (there’s homework!). We’d also like you to use the online link in the e-mail to show us which sessions you’re interested in, to help us make sure there is enough support on the day.

LATEST: Download the full programme and timetable (both Word docs)

9.30 – 10.30 Introductory session
Let you know what you’re going to be doing in the interactive sessions coming up, and get you “warmed up” and ready for action

10.45 – 11.45 Presentations, as if at a job interview.
We have 120 places for those of you who want to have a go at presenting your research – in 5 minutes – plus lots more places for observers who can give feedback

11.45 – 1.00 Choice of sessions
Either

  • academic interviews, with 3 different panels (by faculty) of experienced academics, talking about what they look for at interviews
  • group exercise sessions – IBM run group exercise (30 places only); medical communications recruitment exercises (ie suitable for would-be medical writers) run by KnowledgePoint360 (50 places); group discussions – run by us, but with exercises previously used by Accenture in recruitment (50 places)

As an alternative, from 10.45-1.00, you can opt for our practice psychometric tests

2.00-3.45 Practice interviews
This gives you the chance to test out your interview skills from both sides of the desk. In groups of 3 or 4 researchers, you will get the chance to interview each other, be interviewed and observe/give feedback.

As an alternative, from 2.00-4.00, you can opt for our practice psychometric tests

Day 2 has proven to be more popular than we expected, so hopefully we’ll have enough  places for all of you who want to have a go at presentations or the group exercises, but apologies in advance if you have to opt for your second choice. I’m still counting on the suspicion that lots of people will chicken out on the day, as the presentations and interviews need you to do preparation work beforehand. (Details of this have been sent out to all who have registered.)

If there is obviously unmet demand on the day, we can look at putting on similar (smaller scale) sessions in future, rather than just a once a year event.

Then it’s just the PhD Career Zone @ The Graduate Fair on Wednesday, and then I can relax …

So, see you there tomorrow!

“An Academic Career” – Feedback?

We launched our careers website for aspiring academics, “An Academic Career” in March and it has attracted over 13,000 hits since then.

What we’d love to know is:

Have you done anything differently since

  • reading something on the website
  • downloading one of the self assessment handouts (“What do you want out of a career?”, or “Have you got what it takes?”)
  • or watching some of the video clips of academics talking about their careers, whether on the website or in training sessions which have used the videos?

It could be that you’ve updated your academic CV, made an effort to add a new academic contact to your network, started looking at different jobs or fellowships, decided to apply for a PhD – or decided that you’d rather explore alternatives to academia after all.

Just drop me a comment via the feedback form below. Whatever you say won’t be printed on the blog for all to see, but will be e-mailed directly to me. If you don’t mind us using any comments in reports or publicity about the site, please just tick the box beneath your comment (any comments used will be kept anonymous).

[Form deleted]

Pathways: Career Support for Researchers

Next month, hundreds of researchers will be milling about the Renold Building, finding out about how to get on in a wide range of academic and non-academic careers. Some of them (the brave ones) will be practising their interview and assessment skills, whilst still more will be hot-footing it down to the Armitage Centre to talk to real employers of PhDs and getting careers and CV advice.

Will you be one of them?

Yes, it’s our annual call for Pathways, our cross-university careers event for researchers.
Booking is now open on our Pathways website.

What is Pathways?
Three separate days focusing on supporting PhDs and research staff in whatever career they want to follow. You can choose to go along to one, two or all three days, whatever suits your needs.

Day 1: Friday 10th June 2011, Renold Building, University of Manchester
We run 40+ career panels made up of current academics and former researchers, now in a range of careers, to help you understand what their careers involve, how to make the transition into your next career – and what mistakes to avoid.

The beauty of this format is that it’s really informal, and you get to hear from real people who’ve been in your position, talking candidly about their careers.

It can be very helpful talking to “employers”, but they all have a vested interest in making their work sound attractive. In this format, you may hear people talk about how much they disliked their previous (or even current) work, or disastrous choices they made, but you can also be confident that they’re not spinning you some corporate line when they say they love their job.

Day 2:  Monday 13th June 2011, Renold Building
NEW this year. We’re focusing on how to get you into the job you want : interviews and assessment. It won’t just be talks – you’ll get the chance to “have a go”.

Depending on the type of career you think you will want, you can opt to

  • hear from academic recruiters about interview panels (and maybe try some answers yourself)
  • do a 5 minute presentation of your research  as if you were applying for a job (very different from presenting at a conference)
  • try being an interviewee, interviewer and observer as you practice your interview skills in a safe environment
  • try a group exercise run by a big name recruiter
  • learn about how to get into medical communications careers
  • try psychometric tests

There won’t be the chance to try all of the above (that would take a two day workshop) but you should be able to prioritise and get some practical help for the kind of assessments you’re likely to encounter in your chosen career.

Day 3: Wednesday 15th June 2011, Armitage Centre
Once again, we’re running the PhD and Researcher Career Zone @ The Graduate Recruitment Fair. This is a dedicated room at our big recruitment fair, just for researchers.

We’ll have a small number of recruiters specifically interested in PhDs and researchers who can answer your questions about how employers view PhDs, some of the kinds of work they do, how PhDs can promote themselves.

We won’t kid you that your ideal employer will definitely be there offering you a job (though they might). Most employers who target PhDs only want one or two a year, so they don’t often come to recruitment fairs. However, there will also be over 70 employers to talk to in the main fair, many of whom will take applications from PhDs.

Who can come?
Any current University of Manchester PhD researcher or member of research staff. If you have recently completed your PhD (up to 3 years ago), you can still come along. If you are a member of research staff without a PhD, you’re very welcome to attend, but you should be aware that there will be a strong focus on what you can do with a PhD.

If you are a researcher at another institution, we’re also offering places for Day 1 and/or Day 2 at a modest cost – try talking to your institution first as some NW universities have paid for their researchers to attend the event in the past.

NB. Anyone from any institution can attend Day 3 at no charge, no booking required (so bring your friends).

Booking
As we’ve had up to 500 people attending on some days, it’s really important to book your place for Day 1 or Day 2 in advance. (Otherwise, there won’t be enough lunch to go round – did I mention there was a free lunch? Oh yes.)

Even though we’ve only recently opened booking, we’ve got over 100 people booked on already, so don’t miss out.

More information
I’ll be blogging with more detail on each day as the event approaches and more contributors confirm their attendance. If there’s anything you want to know, just drop me a comment on this post and I’ll answer either in the comments or in a new blog post.