February 02, 2015

Life after a PhD and the job hunt

Hi all,

Thought I would have a ramble about my progress since my last post! Well I am still working as a technician and on the look out for new positions. I am both pleased and grateful that this position has given me some time to work a bit more on data from my PhD that I didn't get to fully analyse and my aim is to have the analysis finished so the work is ready to publish by the summer - yay! In my position now, I have meetings with more senior members of my research group who check-in on my progress and make suggestions to help me with data analysis and the other aspects of my role which keeps me motivated and on target to achieve what I want to in this position.

After submitting my PhD thesis and coming back from holiday, it took a good 10 days to get back into a routine and to start thinking about things with a post-PhD brain. Progress on my data analysis was initially slow which was frustrating, but I realise now that what I am working on has limited guidelines so it involves a lot of trial and error. I think the key is to talk! I talk about the data I have to my research group, supervisors, other research groups, individuals that have different data but use relevant programs - this helps troubleshoot and come up with ideas to make progress.

I am currently looking out for job positions once my current contract runs out in the summer. I'm still debating the key question for PhD leavers - to stay in academia or not. I have tried to answer this question for myself by looking at both my practical priorities (location, family etc) with my career ambitions and what in reality is available in the job market at the moment. I have seen a role in academia that fits with both so I'm going to apply for that whilst looking at some other options based on knowledge transfer and widening participation that I have seen which fit in with some of the science outreach work I have done during my PhD time.

My advice to anyone in a similar position would be to use all those people you have met during the course of your PhD time to ask around about job positions. Use websites like jobs.ac.uk and set up e-mails of job alerts on these types of sites. Make sure your CV and online profiles all look professional and are up to date. I would also always say to tailor your CV to a job. If you use the same one for every position, potential employers will see this and not be impressed. You need to think about what skills each position requires and how you can use your experiences to highlight this on your CV. Job hunting is stressful, I still find it difficult to read a job description and determine if it's me - I want to have a job where I can learn and be challenged, but also one that plays to my strengths so I can enjoy it. I would recommend that you think carefully about your goals and priorities and align job applications with these - to me there is no point in spending lots of time applying for a job that you don't actually want to do, but then again bills need to be paid and sometimes you have to start somewhere to gain experience to move forward and jump ship when the opportunity arises!

Good luck to my fellow PhdD'ers and post-PhD'ers!


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