and there was even a free lunch...

Pathways 2012 – Registration now open at

Career Options for PhDs and Research Staff
8th and 13th June 2012

Latest Pathways 2012 news:

Pathways – The panels revealed
Pathways – Get in while you can?
The Big Annual PhD Careers Event

On this page:

What is Pathways?
What to expect – Day 1, Day 2
Who can attend?
What’s different this year?
Got your PhD and already in a career – could you take part in a panel?

What is Pathways?

Now in its sixth year, the University of Manchester “Pathways” careers event for PhDs and research staff has to be the UK’s largest career options event for researchers, with

  • 2 days of PhD and researcher careers events
  • dozens of PhD qualified panellists, employers, trainers and advisers
  • attended by over 800 researchers from Manchester and the North West

all focused just on PhDs and research staff.

Is it any good?

In 2009 we were shortlisted for a Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers, which is great recognition. However, what’s even better is that now we’re bringing back people who attended Pathways as students and researchers, and who are now successfully established in their new careers.

What to expect:

Day 1: Career Options – Friday 8th June 2012, University Place

Day 1 consists of “Question and Answer” panel sessions with people who have either completed their PhDs or moved on from university research posts in the last 10 years, or who have expertise in the job market for PhDs and researchers. Throughout the day, several Panel sessions will run in parallel from 10.00-3.30, alongside more informal individual or small group conversations about careers in our Career Lounge – and there’s a free lunch.

All four Faculties and the Careers Service collaborate to attract panellists who have already completed their PhDs and are now working in a wide range of careers to talk to our current PhDs and research staff. You can never tell where PhDs will end up in their careers, but we’re expecting to see panellists in careers ranging from academia, lab based jobs, media and publishing, banking and finance, teaching, communicating science, museums and libraries, business start up and more.

As there will be several panels running concurrently, we won’t be asking you to sign up to individual sessions in advance (too complicated, and everyone always changes their mind on the day anyway) but we will try to run most panels more than once. On the day, it will be first come, first served for each panel. (Surprisingly, this does seem to have worked remarkably well in previous years – sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.)

Day 2: PhD Zone @ The Graduate Fair – Wednesday 13th June 2012, Armitage Centre, Fallowfield

Three years ago, flying in the face of recession, we introduced the “PhD & Researcher Zone” at the Graduate Recruitment Fair, and it’s still going strong.

We set aside a room at the general Graduate Fair, dedicated to talking about how to find jobs if you have a PhD. This includes giving feedback on applications, and also gives you access to real employers who can give you tips about recruitment. Most employers of PhDs only look for one or two a year, so we don’t expect to see loads of stands with people offering oodles of PhD jobs (although we had 13 stands booked as early as April). However, it’s more realistic to use it as an opportunity to pick the brains of employers, careers advisers and academics to figure out how to find your ideal job.

In addition, of course, as it’s part of the larger Graduate Recruitment Fair, there will be over 70 recruiters available in the main fair to discuss your career plans and their current and future vacancies. This event is open not only to University of Manchester researchers, but also to researchers from any university (no booking required).

Who can attend?

If you’re a current or recent PhD or member of research or teaching staff from the University of Manchester, this event is for you. Keep the dates free and work on your supervisor or PI to persuade them it’s in their interests to let you attend (OK, you might benefit yourself as well…).

If you’re doing a PhD, you can attend in:

  • your first year (to get you inspired & plan out all the fantastic things you’re going to do in your PhD)
  • your second year (to reassure yourself that the pain will stop, eventually, and that everyone else feels the same way in their second year…)
  • your 3rd/4th/5th/6th year (to convince yourself that you will finish this year, and there might be a way to be gainfully employed after all)

Research/teaching staff:

Over half of our panellists last year had post-doctoral research or teaching experience in addition to a PhD.

If you’re a member of research/teaching staff, I’d recommend attending as early as possible in your current contract. If you want to move on in academia, you’ll need to plan strategically to get the right publications, and make the right contacts. Talking to our panellists can help your find out how others have made that happen. If you might be considering a move outside academia, that’s perfectly possible – but it does take some planning. This is where you can talk to people who’ve successfully made that move.

I’ve been before – is there any point in me coming again?

Yes, if your career ideas have changed, or if you want to get more suggestions from PhDs who’ve “been there, done that”, on how to turn your career ideas into actions. Some of our panellists are regulars; some are new to the event – come and hear what they’ve got to say.

Not at the University of Manchester?

We’re delighted that a number of other universities in the North West make places available to their PhDs and researchers. Contact your skills training coordinator at your own university to find out if you can attend Day 1.

Any researcher from any university can attend Day 2, the PhD Zone @ The Graduate Fair (over 800 researchers attended in 2011!)

Do I need to register?
For Day 1, you’ll need to pre-register – registration will open on 7th May at

If you’re from the University of Manchester, remember to bring your university swipe card for Fast Track entry on the day. (For those without a University of Manchester swipe card, there will be an alternative sign in procedure.)

On Day 2, you can register beforehand online to gain fastrack entry to the Fair. Alternatively, you’ll be asked to fill in a registration form when you arrive.

What’s different this year?

  • A new venue for Day 1 – we’re in University Place. (For previous Pathways participants, don’t go to the Renold Building on the day – it’s being refurbished!)
  • No extra Careers Workshop day this year (the old Day 2). Since we started this event 5 years ago, we’ve introduced loads more training to all four faculties, so it was time to drop this day of centrally provided courses. However, if there are specific careers courses or workshops you want, get in touch (eg comment here) and for popular suggestions, I’ll find some other way to deliver them.

Got a PhD and want to talk about your career?
Could you contribute to a panel?

This event can only run successfully thanks to the generous support of those who have “been there themselves”. If you have a PhD, ideally gained within the last 10 years or so, we’d love to hear from you – you don’t have to be a Manchester alumnus.

With the informal format of the event, there is no preparation required for taking part in Day 1, other than to give us brief career information which will be made available to delegates online. You tell us which times you are available (we really hope you can take part in at least 3 of the 5 sessions running on the day), and our professional Events Management team will do the rest.

On the day, we’ll organise and chair the panels for you, have lots of help on hand to let you know where you should be and to deal with any administrative issues, large or small, we’ll feed you and have (soft!) drinks on hand throughout the day in our “Green Room”, and take care of your travelling expenses.

A consistent message last year from participants was that they enjoyed themselves as much as the delegates, who were very appreciative of the time given up by those talking about their careers. You’re not expected to be career experts, just to give the benefit of your own experience – good and bad – to others following in your footsteps.

If you think you can help, please just drop us an e-mail at and we’ll be happy to e-mail or phone you back to discuss it – we’d be delighted to hear from you.


2 comments on “Pathways

  1. Hello,

    If I were still working as a Researcher (I was out of contract at the end of December) I would have been interested in attending the Pathways event, but I find myself outside academia at present (working in a school Science Department), really out of necessity.

    It might be a negative viewpoint, but the reality being that at least some research staff (and PhDs) will be out of work at the end of their contracts, I think it would be useful to face it and give advice on what to do if/when it happens, e.g. alternative/temporary work options, benefits advice and so forth. There are lots of valid reasons why this occurs, and from personal experience it is easy to feel quite isolated after having to leave the institution.

    Many thanks.

    M Ibison (formerly School of Materials, Sept 2007 – Dec 2008)

    • Hi Mark

      I think you raise some very valid points – may not be a positive message, but unfortunately it’s a realistic prospect for some researchers.

      My first reaction was to think about adding a session to Pathways, but I think it’s a bit close to the event now for us to add another workshop, particularly when we’d need to get some expertise from outside if we were to cover benefits advice etc.

      However, there should be ways we could address this outside Pathways. I wonder if a webchat might be a good way to deal with this? It would allow people to ask questions while remaining anonymous to the outside world, we could try and get a couple of experts to add their answers, and there would be a transcript for researchers to read in future if they find themselves in a similar situation.

      In the meantime, if you do want to attend any of the Pathways days (and are able to get time away from your current work), drop an e-mail to, mark it “Pathways, FAO Anna Lomas” and explain that you were recently a member of research staff (or PhD, if any of our alumni are reading this) at Manchester, and we should be able to register you for Day 1 or 2 (no registration needed for Day 3).

      Thanks for your suggestions and hope you find something appropriate in the near future.


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