There was an interesting post on the Guardian Higher Education Network blog this week. It was by a historian who now finds herself working at an internet institute, a career direction that may not have been an obvious choice.
She talks about how the PhD process changed over the years she was doing her doctorate and this was mainly due to the influence of technology – which ignited her interest in her current role. It struck a chord with me as I can remember flicking through cardboard boxes of photocopied journal articles (which I actually had to go to the Medical Library to copy!) when writing my thesis trying to find the correct reference. PhD students now will access their journals online and use software such as Endnote and Reference Manager to organise their bibliographies (but I’m sure still manage to find other ways to procrastinate!).
Another really interesting thread in the article was how chance can often influence the direction career takes. I am quite a big fan of the Planned Happenstance theory of career planning. This theory recognises that chance and unpredictable events will often play a part in the direction you take in your career. However, it doesn’t suggest you leave your career down to luck but instead to be open to seeking out opportunities and equipping yourself with the skills to take advantage of the unexpected. There are lots of ways the Careers Service can help you in this. We offer opportunities to meet with employers, talk to people in a range of careers, explore interesting job vacancies, and can help you to clarify your career thinking through interviews with a careers adviser.
I’ll be following the Guardian Higher Education Network blog in the coming weeks to hopefully hear more interesting career stories from researchers. You can read a few from University of Edinburgh PhD alumni who have gone on to careers as diverse as financial planning, student recruitment, and even academic research on our website.