I talk to many PhD students about what they are going to do when they finish their PhD. Many of them have had limited experience outside the academic field and are a little bewildered by the world of ‘business’. What do people do all day? Is it anything that could be of interest to me (and where I could use my skills)?
One way to start finding out is to gain some work experience or to network with professionals working in different business areas but this isn’t always easy when you are doing a PhD. However, there are a few student societies operating at the University of Edinburgh that could help give you some commercial insights and / or experience and provide good networking opportunities with people you are unlikely to meet at an academic conference. A few that could be of interest are:
iCUE: Organises skills sessions and workshops delivered by a range of employers to help improve students’ employability. They also hold an annual ‘Edinburgh Apprentice’ competition to test your creativity and business sense. Find out more here.
FreshSight: Gives the opportunity to work as small teams offering consultancy to external employers. Teams work on a project brief for the employer over the space of 8 weeks to come up with ideas and recommendations to address the employer issue. Team members have weekly training to support them to deliver on the project, and will have a business mentor (postgraduate student from the Business School) and committee mentor to support them. It’s a great opportunity to get consultancy experience and to use skills in areas such as problem solving, research, and analysis – all of which you should be developing as a PhD student. Find out more here.
Bright Futures: Runs events to link students with industry professionals. Good opportunities to meet with people from a range of careers and to get some insights. Also run a mock trading game which could allow you to test your skills in this area. Find out more here.
Why not investigate these societies and think about going along to some of their events? It may just introduce you to career ideas you hadn’t considered before – and help equip you with some of the skills you need to succeed in those areas.