Values and an academic career

I did a workshop recently with some PhD students from across Europe.  We were talking about values and an academic career.  I had come across a couple of articles on this that I thought may be interesting to share.  Have a look at the summary of the articles below and think about how your own personal values may or may not be a good fit for an academic career – and how this may help with your career decision making.

  • A small study of biomedical sciences PhD graduates that showed they chose an academic career (or not) based on their personal values, and not on how successful they had been during their PhD

  • Another small study of academic faculty in the USA that built up a picture of the values that attracted them to an academic career

If you want to talk about any implications for your own career decision making then do make an appointment with a careers consultant.

Make an appointment

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The Guardian gives some good advice on performing well at interviews in the piece linked below.  It’s relevant whatever type of job you’re applying for as all employers want to know that you’ll be a good fit for their organisation and that you can do the job.

Inside the mind of your job interviewer

Remember that we have some information on interviews written specifically for PhD students on the Careers service website.

Interview advice for PhD students

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PhD Student Internships

We are now advertising a couple of internships open to PhD students only.  These are a great opportunity to get some part-time experience working in a different role at the University while continuing with your PhD research.  You’ll find details below.  There should be a few more being advertised over the coming months so if you are interested just search for ‘Employ.ed for PhDs’ on MyCareerhub.

IS Student Employment Project Intern – This role will be based within the HR team, working alongside the Employment Officer for Student Experience. The intern will be writing and creating web content, researching the student employment experience in Information Services Group and creating digital handbooks for IS Student employees. Closing date 20th August.

Intellectual Property Management and Commercialisation PhD Intern – This internship provides the opportunity for Edinburgh PhD students to gain hands-on experience of the University Technology Transfer and intellectual property management. You will receive in-house training from the team and will gain direct experience of several transferable skills including technology evaluation, patenting, patent searching and freedom to operate analysis, marketing and market research as well as aspects of licensing and commercialisation of research. Closing date 15th September

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Making career decisions; lessons from PhD graduates

It was our PhD Horizons Careers Conference last week.  We had 33 speakers talking about their career journey after their PhD and demonstrating how many career areas could be possible once you complete your PhD.  I chaired 5 out of the 10 panels and I was struck by how so many of the speakers, despite working in varied career areas, shared similar messages.  A few of these were:

Your PhD is valued by lots of different types of employers but it’s often the SKILLS you’ve developed that interest them rather than the subject of your PhD.

Even if you go into an organisation at the same level as new graduates, you WILL progress more quickly because of your PhD experience.

TALK to people to understand more about career areas that vaguely interest you; call them up or e-mail them to ask for some of their time.  People are usually very happy to talk about themselves!  And as job titles can be obtuse, talking to someone doing a similar job can help you to understand what it’s actually all about.

It’s ok if you don’t think an academic career is for you.  There are many other jobs out there which PhD graduates find CHALLENGING and fulfilling.

Do have CONFIDENCE that you have developed many of the skills and shown many of the attributes employers value.  Doing a PhD can have low points that can dent your confidence but don’t lose sight of all the great experience you have gained – that can be transferred to many other career areas.

Below is a quote from one of our speakers (now working in the Civil Service), talking about the question she’d asked herself when considering a move from an academic research career.

Wouldn’t it be better if I could be this ambitious, make a real difference, but still get to go home in the evening?

That’s all I wanted to share for now.  Some of my colleagues are currently writing up notes from the sessions which we’ll share when they’re ready so you can learn more about the varied and interesting career paths other PhD graduates have taken.

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Find out more about publishing

We’ve been notified of an event on publishing at the end of June that you may be interested in.  There are free places available for PhD students.  Have a look at the details below if you think you may be interested.

Publishing & scholarly communication for early career researchers: immortalisation, recognition and metrics

  • Date: Friday 30th June 2017, 0930-1700
  • Venue: Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Edinburgh (near Old College)
  • Registration & programme:
  • Twitter: #ReCon_17   @ReConEvent

>> Apply for a free place (for PhD students):

Discount code for earlybird tickets (=£25): ReConB4



Speakers from major publishers such as Elsevier, Springer Nature/ Digital Science, Wellcome Open Research and Altmetric, in addition to academics and experts will share their experience. The conference is a unique opportunity to learn about the publishing process, raising your research profile and how to enhance your research career.



PhD students – apply for a free place:

There is also an opportunity for PhD students and early career researchers (with less than 1 year of postdoc experience) to apply for a free place at the conference via this application form: If you would like a place apply now and we will review your application and get back to you in one week.

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Using Careers Service Events Effectively

I met a PhD student recently who had been at a Careers Service event last month on ‘Working in Policy’.  The student said it was one of the best things she’d been to at the university.  Obviously that’s nice feedback to get to pass on to the colleagues who’d organised that event, but what struck me was how that student had used the event in a way that had helped her get greatest benefit from it.  So I thought I’d pass on a few thoughts.

This event was not directed at PhD students specifically.  It was open to students studying at any level who were interested in working in policy.  So don’t just go to things that have the ‘PhD student’ label as you may miss out on something that will genuinely interest you.

Do your research before you go.  The list of speakers was available before the event.  The student identified that there was going to be someone speaking who worked in a role that really excited her.  But she was also open to hearing from others as you never know when you’ll hear something interesting from an unexpected quarter.

Take the networking opportunities offered.  There was time for informal networking between students and speakers after the event.  The student made sure she had a conversation with the speaker she was interested in.  She demonstrated her enthusiasm and got across some of her own relevant experience and skills.  She learned more about the role and made a great contact.

Follow up afterwards.  As a result of the first contact she made at the policy event, she was arranging to meet with the speaker again to discuss the possibility of some work shadowing.  If you meet and connect with someone at an event, do consider following up with them to get further information or even experience.

This was a great example of someone using one of our events in exactly the way we encourage students to.  So do explore what’s going on at the Careers Service.  We don’t like to e-mail you every time we run an event so you should get in the habit of looking on MyCareerhub where all of our events are advertised.


And look out for our PhD Horizons Careers Conference on Tuesday 6th June. You can hear from over 30 PhD graduates working in different career areas and there will be opportunities for networking with the speakers.

PhD Horizons Careers Conference

(Obviously we’re not the only service organising events that may be of interest to you so keep your eyes open for anything else happening across the University or beyond).

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Funding opportunity

See below for details of a very small pot of funding that is available for research through an organisation called Gradconsult.  It’s a new initiative and is aimed at helping researchers start to develop a track record of successful funding bids.

On behalf of the Gradconsult team, I am delighted to announce that our Microgrant scheme is now open for applications!

About our Microgrants:

We want to put our money where our mouth is – we see the great value that quality research adds to our Universities, and as an SME working in early careers, we want to support individuals starting their career in academia or research to get a foot in the door.

Our Microgrants are open to early-career academics who want to kick start their funding record. This can include:

  • PhD students
  • Post-doctoral researchers with less than three years’ experience
  • Academics/lecturers with less than three years’ experience

Applicants can work in any field – we’re as interested in chemists as we are in art historians – and should be looking to develop a funding track record to apply for larger grants in the future. The final criterion for eligibility is that, to date, they should not have received a research grant larger than £1,000.

You can learn more about our Microgrants (and apply for them) by following this link:

The deadline for applications is the 31st March 2017.

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