On 17 January 2017 we held a careers session as part of the annual Biology Postgraduate Student Conference. Our intention was to highlight the diversity of careers available after a Biology PhD to the postgraduate and postdoctoral students in the Department. We had speakers who described a variety of career paths, with talks on:
- Dr Tracey Gloster – Getting an independent fellowship
- Dr Helder Ferreira – That big step to your first lectureship
- Dr Nicki Cook – Out and back to academia
- Dr Tom Ashton – Moving into science consulting
- Dr Verena Dietrich-Bischoff – Teaching-focussed academics; an alternative academic career
- Dr Helen Reddy – Beyond the Bench: work, life, kids and the joy of research policy
We had approximately 80 attendees, 66 of whom provided feedback on the event. Of these, 84% were PhD students, 9% were postdoctoral students, and 6% were staff. The event was well received (mean interest level was 4.1 on a scale from 1 =not very interesting, to 5=very interesting). In asking for suggestions for topics for next year, we had a very mixed response: 25% votes were for more information on academic careers, 26% for industry careers, 12% for policy careers, 25% for science writing, but there were also freetext suggestions for information on conservation biology and clinical biology careers, and for more on communication and engagement careers.
Some attendees asked for follow up sessions and workshops. There are many relevant CAPOD courses/events available for research postgraduates relating to life after a PhD, including “From PhD to Postdoc: Making the transition”, “Grant writing: writing for success”, and “Fundraising for your postdoc”. There are also courses on public engagement: ‘Practical public engagement”, and a course on “Women and the academic career” which might be of interest.
We would like to thank everyone who attended and provided feedback, and look forward to improving the event for PhD students and postdocs next year.