And Now, The End Is Near …

… but only of this particular incarnation of the blog. Today, we’re launching our new University of Manchester Careers Blog, combining the Postgraduate, Graduate, Undergraduate, International and Media blogs. All of these will continue to be updated as before, but now they’ll all be in the same place, with one, easier-to-remember, url:

http://manunicareersblog.com

Each of the old blogs now has its own category on the new blog, so you can filter the content and just get the postgrad posts if you’d prefer (though I’d definitely recommend some of the other posts as well).

So far, I’ve written four posts which you can read on the new postgrad pages, including one with a TED talk which made my head explode with its implications. Any long-term readers, though, may spot that one of them is a recycled version of a post which is on here. I may do a bit more of that, given the natural turnover of postgrads, and the archive of still relevant material on this blog, which readers won’t see if they only read the new blog. However, I’ll make sure most of the content on the new blog is fresh – it’ll be boring for all of us old lags otherwise!

I’ll try and sort out the Feedburner feed and e-mail subscriptions as soon as possible. The new blog allows you to take a direct feed of either each of the categories or all of the posts. However, at the moment, you can only get all the posts emailed to you, so I’ll stick with Feedburner, at least for email for the moment.

Please bear with me in case there’s a slight delay in transferring feeds/emails. I foolishly decided to create this new one-blog-to-rule-them-all just before our busiest time of year – but that’s how I started this blog, and look where it got us, 5 years and almost a quarter of a million page views later.

So, the blog is dead – long live the blog!

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

Careers Appointments By Skype

If you’re a University of Manchester student or recent graduate (postgrad or undergrad), did you know that we’re starting to offer careers appointments by Skype, if you can’t get into Manchester to see us in person?

We’ve offered advice by e-mail or telephone appointments for some time if you can’t get in to see one of us face-to-face. However, these have their disadvantages:

  • You often need a conversation to sort out what the real issue is, even with CV feedback, so e-mail is definitely second best.
  • Phone appointments mean you can have that conversation but it’s often difficult to hear properly, there are no visual clues to pick up on (eg. if you’re shaking your head or looking quizzical) and it’s hard to read a document over the phone!

Skype allows us to see each other, to transfer documents quickly or share screens to show you websites, and if you’re on an inclusive broadband package (or free wi-fi) it’s cheaper than phoning us from another continent.

One further advantage seems to be that if you’ve been away from the university for a while, you can feel a bit isolated as you either carry out your field research or search for a job after graduating. Having a face-to-face conversation, albeit through a screen, with someone who understands what being a postgrad means, can make you feel just that bit less alone.

We’re gradually rolling this out across more careers consultants (bit of a hiccup while the university makes us change our desktop image) so you may not find it available immediately, depending on which consultant you need to see. However, I’m all hooked up and ready to go – does it surprise you that I’ve been piloting Skype appointments for some time now :-) ? I’ve even started doing practice interviews by Skype when students have an interview coming up.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • You need to call the Careers Service as usual to arrange an appointment. Tell them you would like a Skype appointment and they’ll see if we have someone who could do this at a time suitable to both of you. Otherwise, we may have to offer a telephone appointment instead.
  • We’re not planning to train you on how to use Skype, so you need to be familiar with it already if you want a Skype appointment.
  • You do need to give us your Skype username (accurately!) so we can send you a contact request before the appointment.
  • We’ve had a problem with a contact request not coming through in time, so we’ll try to send you an e-mail through CareersLink, giving you the careers consultant’s Skype username, so you can send  a contact request to us as a back up.
  • You need to login to Skype a short while before the appointment, and accept our contact request.
  • You should wait for us to call you, in case we’re with another student (quite likely, if we have back-to-back appointments). However, if you’re over 10 minutes late in getting a Skype call from us, try phoning us in case there’s an unforeseen problem (though if it’s a fire alarm and we’re standing outside in the rain, there’ll be no-one to answer the phone either!).

So that’s the latest Careers Service innovation we’re bringing to you. The university has some concerns about whether the network will keel over if we’re all on Skype at the same time. However, if I can Skype my mum in Scotland from my home in a village with a slow broadband connection, I’m holding out that a university which claims to have played such a large role in the development of the computer, can cope!

2013 Graduate Schemes Start To Open

If you’re not quite ready for starting a job yet, for example, if your Masters or PhD won’t finish until later on this year – don’t miss out now. Some of the big graduate employers are already starting to look for 2013 new starters.

Here’s some sound advice from our Information Manager, Holly Seager, from our Graduate Blog:

“While there are lots of graduate jobs being advertised at the moment with immediate start dates, some 2013 graduate schemes are also opening now. These opportunities are open to graduates from previous years as well as the class of 2013. If you are graduating this summer, or have been out for a while and think you might be interested there are many reasons why it is a good idea to get in early…

  1. The opening date of a job is always more important than the closing date. Often organisations will close the opportunity without warning when they get enough quality applications.
  2. Organisations may start interviewing immediately. You might be able to get a firm job offer for 2013 within the next few months leaving you free to go travelling or take some time out.
  3. Some schemes fill up really quickly and if you don’t apply early you won’t get in at all. One example is Teach First, for the last three years they have filled their places for humanities graduates by September! Even if spaces are left on the scheme you are applying for it is always better to be interviewed when they have dozens of jobs to fill than when they only have one or two left. Every year I meet students and graduates who pass the recruitment process but are told that they are not being made a job offer as the last place has just been filled.
  4. Applications take a long time to do properly. You can do a better job if you apply to one or two a week as they open, rather than trying to send 15 all at once later in the year.

Here are a few companies advertising at the moment:

  • AECOM – starting June 2013
  • Tesco procurement graduate programme
  • Factset – this one starts January 2013
  • Teach First – starting summer 2013, or you can apply for a deferred place for 2014.
  • Clarksons (global shipping)
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Accenture – limited opportunities to join from spring 2013 in Consulting

More will be opening applications soon. Ernst and Young for instance have contacted us to say they are opening applications on July 1st. Investment banks in particular tend to open applications in the summer.

If you are interested in a particular company be sure to check their website regularly/follow them on Facebook or Twitter/sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss out. You can start researching them now and deciding which opportunities to apply for so that when applications open you can be one of the first to send a well thought out, polished application.”

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

Graduate Fair – Who Are Employers Looking For?

List of what employers are looking for at the Graduate Fair (pdf)

Don’t you wish there was an easy way of finding out which, if any, employers need people in your subject at the Graduate Fair on 13th and 14th of June?

Well, there is – here (pdf document)

You’ll see that there are lots of recruiters who will take people from any subject, as well as those who are specifically looking for eg. electrical engineers, physicists, HR, psychology.

I was also interested to spot that only a few were specifically asking for a business-related degree although there are lots of “business” employers attending. That reinforces the advice that you don’t necessarily need a business qualification to get started on a business career.

Word of caution: You need to check which day specific employers are attending – there are different employers attending on each day of the fair.

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.

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?