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.

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 … 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): (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 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?


Pakistan Job Fair – Today (Wednesday 22 Feb)

This is a last minute call:

If you’re a Manchester student from any year from Pakistan, or a final year student from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or China, looking to work in Pakistan, we’re holding our first

  • Pakistan Graduate Job Fair, today, Wednesday 22nd February, 1.30-4pm, Alan Turing Building.

There are 17 recruiters coming over from Pakistan, from big multinationals to major homegrown industries. Types of employment covered include:

  • Oil and gas exploration and production
  • Motor manufacture
  • Management consultancy & technology services
  • HR consultancy
  • Retailers in textiles and in a range of fast moving consumer goods
  • Law
  • Engineering
  • Property development
  • Banking
  • Chemical manufacture
  • Beauty products (Hint: Because you’re worth it…)

This is a rare opportunity to talk directly to international employers who want to target University of Manchester students – don’t miss it. More information on CareersLink

Want To Forecast The Weather – On TV?

If you’ve ever fancied being a TV weather presenter and forecaster, this is your chance to find out what it’s like.

Staff at the University of Manchester Centre for Atmospheric Science organise public meetings for the North-West Royal Meteorological Society, and they’ve struck lucky with this month’s talk by Laura Tobin, a Met Office forecaster and weather presenter for the BBC, and a Physics & Meteorology graduate.

Here’s what they have to say:

Laura will tell us what it is like to be a weather presenter and forecaster and describe how weather model forecast data are turned into what we all see on the TV.

This promises to be an exciting talk and not to be missed by anyone with an interest in the weather and anyone interested in weather presenting in general.

Tell your friends! This is a free to attend, no need to register event. Just turn up.

  • Speaker: Laura Tobin (BBC weather presenter and forecaster)
  • Title: Forecasting the weather – from models to TV
  • Date: Tue 7th Feb 2012
  • Time: 6 pm (coffee from 5.40 pm) to 7 pm
  • Location: C9, Renold Building, University of Manchester.

Careers With A Difference – Coming Up

Autumn is our big semester for careers events, particularly for the major graduate recruiters, but we don’t stop there. Spring is when we focus on “Careers With A Difference“, our new catch-all phrase for non-corporate & not-for-profit careers, creative/media careers, self employment, environmental careers and more.

Here’s advance warning of what’s coming up later this semester

Dates to book in in your diary now:

  • Got a great business idea but not sure what to do? – a one-off event for those keen to find out about running your own business or becoming self-employed. 2-4pm, Wednesday 29th Feb – registration now open. This will be followed by further sessions on developing business plans, a “clinic” for running your own business and an introduction to social enterprises – see CareersLink for further details in the near future.
  • Getting started with a career in the media – an interactive practical 1 hour session with our careers consultants, for those wondering where to start with this competitive career area. 12-1, Monday 5th March – registration now open.

Coming soon:

  • Getting into International Development – a half day information event for anyone interested in International Development, Humanitarian Aid and related areas. The chance to hear from experts working in this field, including DfID, Mines Advisory Group and the British Red Cross. 1.30-5pm, Wednesday 7th March. Registration opens in a couple of days!
  • Careers in the Environmental Sector – a half day event with the chance to talk directly to a range of people working this field. 1-5pm, Wednesday 14th March. Registration opens third week of Feb.
  • Insight into Broadcasting and Journalism – a two day course with industry insiders as tutors. Look out for this running over the Easter vacation. UPDATE: Just confirmed – it will be on Monday 26th & Tuesday 27th March this year.

None of these events are recruitment events – these aren’t fairs with employers and vacancies. Why?

  • Because employers in these fields don’t need to spend time and money on stands at fairs to get you interested – there are more than enough people trying to get into these jobs.
  • Because many employers in these fields are small and can’t afford the time away from their organisations to recruit at a range of universities – but our alumni and other contacts have often, very generously, given up their own time to talk to you at these events.
  • Because very few organisations in these fields have “graduate recruitment schemes”, recruiting in the Autumn. They’ll have one-off vacancies which might happen at any time of year, so it pays to get prepared beforehand with all the information you’ll need for your applications, and grab the vacancies whenever you spot them.

Even if they’re not advertising jobs, they do give you the inside info you’ll need to get into these very competitive fields – don’t miss your chance.

Manchester Collaborates On Enterprise For Postgrads

Enterprise Futures 2012 sees the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University collaborating to run an innovative enterprise event, just for our postgraduates (Masters or PhDs).

What is it?
A one day workshop looking at all aspects of enterprise. If you like the idea of one day being in control of your own business, you probably don’t need much justification for attending an enterprise event. However, it’s also for those who:

  • enjoy being enterprising – being innovative, creative, selling ideas to others – in whatever job they do (that’s called “intrapreneurship” – though I just call it “the fun part of my job”)
  • are interested in social enterprises – businesses run to fulfil a social need, who aim to make a profit, but who plough that profit into the sustainable enterprise, which continues to address the social need (think The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen – have a look at this definition from Social Enterprise UK)

When is it?
Monday 23rd January, 9.30am – 5.45pm

Where is it?
The University of Salford’s Media City campus

Who can go?
Up to 50 postgraduates from each of the collaborating universities (which includes The University of Manchester) – first to register get the places, so get in quick as we’ve got a lot of postgrads.

How do I find out more and register?

Postgrad Study Fair Goes International

Our big Postgraduate Study Fair is running this week, on Wednesday 23rd November, for anyone considering doing (another) postgraduate degree.

This is your chance to talk to representatives from a wide range of institutions about the courses they offer, what it’s like studying at their universities and any funding opportunities. Naturally, they won’t have individual potential supervisors there for all the PhDs they offer, but they can give you a flavour of the support you’ll get if you opt for their institution. There is also a range of exhibitors offering general services for finding postgrad study or funding opportunities, including our sponsors, and

International Exhibitors
This year, I was really interested to spot that there is an even stronger international presence, so if you fancy studying in, say, Finland, or Switzerland, you only have to go as far as Manchester Central Exhibition Centre to talk to someone about it.

Countries represented this year, either by an individual institution, or an organisation dedicated to promoting study in a particular part of the world are:

  • Finland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Australia
  • England
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • USA

If you want to know any more about studying in the UK or overseas, have a look at who’s coming and come and see us – and give me a wave during my “Should I do a PhD?” talk or when I’m giving careers advice (open to all comers).

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…