An Academic Career – New Website

Today, we’re officially launching our new website to support aspiring academics:

An Academic Career – www.manchester.ac.uk/academiccareer

It’s aimed at postgraduates, research or teaching staff (post-docs or others), undergraduates – or basically anyone who isn’t yet an academic but who thinks they might like an academic career.

It’s also open to anyone, not just Manchester students and staff, so feel free to share it with friends and colleagues wherever they are. Here’s what’s on offer:

Is an academic career for you?
This has three different tailored sections, one for undergraduates/Masters, one for PhDs, and one for post-docs (so you get the right sort of information for the stage you’re at in your career).

In particular, it includes two  downloadable resources:

  • one to help you think through what you want from a career – a series of self assessment questions
  • another to help you tackle that tricky, “dark night of the soul” question: “Have you got what it takes?” (Don’t worry, it doesn’t give you a score out of 10 – and it does have lots of suggestions for things you can do to get your academic career on track)

About academic careers
Whenever I’ve been part of an academic careers event with a panel of academics answering questions, I’m always struck by the gulf between what an audience of PhDs, and even post-docs, think academics do, and what academics say they really spend their time on.

This section tries to unpick what life is like as an academic and how to get there. We talked to lots of academics and have included video clips throughout the site to add to the more detailed text, so you get to hear from the horse’s mouth what it’s like. We’ve also included a range of academic career stories, and links to even more examples elsewhere on the web.

There’s also a more detailed section on career issues for those at PhD and beyond, including “What are my chances?“, “Would moving university help my career?” (including links to some excellent non-UK academic careers resources) and “Could I return to academia if I leave?

Finding jobs
This is primarily aimed at finding post-doc, fellowship and lecturer jobs.

I know you’ll all want to go straight to the list of job advert websites (don’t worry, they’re there), but recent research shows that the most common way which PhDs working in academia, 3 or 4 years after graduating, found out about their job was – you guessed it, through their contacts. So, I’ve included a section on ways to uncover your ideal academic job.

Making applications
If you want to know what to put in your CV, covering letter or application form, this section is for you.

We’ve included links to two excellent sites with example academic CVs (aimed at PhDs and post-docs) but decided against trying to invent our own examples.

Why? Well, we received over 30 real CVs from people who had been successful in getting academic jobs, but formatting and even content were all so wildly different that it seemed wrong to say “do it this way”. However, we have discussed all the different items which could go into your CV and given you hints on how to find real academic CVs online, ideally from your own discipline (to see what the competition’s like).

Interviews and assessment
You want questions? We’ve got a whole list of possible questions you can prepare for, plus hints on preparation, questions you could ask and presentations.

To be honest, there’s quite a lot more I’d like to include in this section, so if it’s a priority for you, give us some feedback and we develop it further.

Feedback
We’ve had some really helpful feedback from postgraduate and postdoctoral users, some of which we’ve been able to incorporate into the initial launch; some of which we’ve added to our list of ways we’d like to develop the site.

If you have any feedback on the site, I’d love to hear from you. You can access the new Academic Careers page on this blog and vote in our poll of what you’d like to see added, or fill in our comments box, or just e-mail us at academic.career@manchester.ac.uk (or you could always comment here, of course).

Hope you find it useful.

 

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