Observing How Things Work
- During your PhD, it is important to make a conscious effort to observe the activities taking place in your School in relation to research, teaching, and administration. This will help you identify opportunities to gain exposure and experience in these areas.
- Students can also get a better understanding of what is expected from an academic by looking at academia vacancies on www.jobs.ac.uk or on individual university sites. By looking at the criteria for jobs in your area, you can assess your current skills and decide what you need to do to enhance your employability.
- Try to play an active role in your School and at Queen’s in general. You can raise your profile by participating in relevant events such as ‘in-house’ conferences and seminars. Helping out at a conference at Queen’s is a great way to see how they are organised and to get a feel for their format. It also offers a good opportunity to network with speakers, should you not feel ready to present a paper yourself. You may also be interested in organising an event and could apply to student-led initiatives for assistance with funding.
- Attend internal School seminars and working groups. These seminars are designed to give academics within your School a chance to present their current research and to seek advice and feedback from colleagues. By attending you can observe closely how they approach their research and gain ideas on how to improve your own work.
- Research students may have opportunity to carry out teaching and demonstrating work at Queen’s during the course of their degrees (though not usually until they have passed differentiation/the first annual progress review). Typically, teaching takes the form of either facilitating small group tutorials or demonstrating in practical classes. This is good experience to have on your CV, whether you enter an academic career or take a different route, as it demonstrates presentation and communication skills, organisation, the ability to influence and persuade and many other transferable skills. Speak to your School about the teaching opportunities available. Further information on how to raise your profile is available here.
Assessing and Developing Your Skills
- It is important at all stages of your PhD to continually reassess your skills development and career plans. Questions to consider include: What are my interests and values? How have my preferences changed throughout the process? What is my preferred work environment? How are my experiences as a PhD student comparing with what is expected of an academic career?
- It is useful to review your skills and development needs with your supervisory team. They may be able to point you in the right direction and introduce you to other faculty members or opportunities within the School. You may also wish to contact the PGR Senior Careers Adviser, Rebecca Boyd, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Feedback is invaluable to your professional and academic growth. Make the most of the feedback provided by your supervisory team, both positive and negative. Reflect upon it and use it to develop your self-knowledge and inform your Personal Development Plan. You should also seek feedback from other people: from your PhD colleagues, for example, or from other academics working in a similar area within your School or in the University more broadly. Conferences also provide an excellent opportunity to receive feedback on your work, often from experts in your field.