Unorthodox Funding

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The funding landscape is, in a recession, a tough one. Additionally, the route from a PhD to academic employment is even more uncertain than it was already. It’s with these things in mind that you might consider less than orthodox approaches to how you go about getting funding and employment. This is something I’ve done as a research student, and will write about on this blog over the Spring. Since last summer I’ve been a volunteer for OPAAL, a national charity whose members provide advocacy on behalf of older people. My work included help to find new funding sources, as well as applying my academic immersion in text to the task of writing funding bids. During this time I applied for funding from Vodafone to set up a partly research-based project for OPAAL. I got the funding, and the picture shows the induction event, with Simon Weston and Gok Wan holding the collection box, and other grant winners in the foreground. This means I’m now a part-time OPAAL employee for the next 4 months. The project involves developing and piloting a memory recording resource that keeps the voices of people with dementia heard as their capacity to instruct or engage with decision-making deteriorates. This means consulting with experts in advocacy projects in our region, as well as researchers at Newcastle University whose work and/or knowledge could help with understanding the relevant legal, medical, IT, and social care matters. So this means I could even end up contacting you!

My own research is actually in a different subject area, but the experience of consulting, project management, and reporting takes research mindedness into practical situations that could inform how I apply my PhD experience outside academia. I will blog about the project at the funder’s website, but I hope that my few posts here about the experience of being a researcher working on a scheme aimed at volunteers can trigger some unusual ideas for researchers seeking funding and employment.


Interview Feedback

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In preparation for last week’s job interview, I read articles about the social benefits of writing residencies in prisons, re-read my application and re-read the brief they sent me.  There was a wealth of information on the Writers In Prisons Network website and the interview pack they sent me contained sample questions as well as a detailed run-down of how the day would go.  On the morning of the interview, I had a friend mock-interview me.

Unfortunately I did not get the job.

Read the rest of this entry »

Job seeking in a recession

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I have read a number of articles recently that report how demoralised people are who are entering the job market – whether they are new PhD graduates leaving university or experienced researchers looking for a new post or career change. Job seekers report that there are no jobs available and where there are jobs, competition is fierce (even more so than usual). What is interesting in these articles, is a discussion around the issue that much of this perception seems to be coming from media reports of the job market, rather than actual experience.

In reality, some employers are reporting that applications for posts are down – with people assuming they have no chance and ruling themselves out. University careers services are reporting lower numbers of  job seekers at job fairs than in previous years.

I’m not suggesting that the job market is flourishing but perhaps there is more opportunity out there than you might think – especially if others are holding back. Have you talked yourself out of applying for something, or even thinking about your next move, because you think the marketplace is bleak? If so, where has this idea come from?

I’d be interested to know what your own experiences of this are, as well as those of your friends and colleagues.

Any thoughts or comments?

Only 5 places left at ENTERPRISERS

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To get your place on this Cambridge Judge Business School – run course, get your application in by 10.00 am Friday 11th December 2009 .

This Enterprisers course runs from 11th – 15th Jan 2010. If this is something you would like to do you can find out more here or go straight to the application form on the Cambridge Website and chose ESRC funded (11-15 Jan 2010), make sure you write in Newcastle in the University tab and your nearly there.

Carpe Diem

We thought that you might also have friends who would benefit from this amazing course. Maybe you know someone who has a Newcastle University degree but is having trouble finding work, or who has been affected by the economic downturn.

Please remember that eligibility is restricted to Newcastle University Graduates (i.e not current students). To see our full eligibility statement please go to and scroll down to ‘how do I apply’.

You can find out more at or by emailing me at

New extended application deadline!

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Great news, we’ve extended the application deadline for the Enterprisers course for 2 EXTRA WEEKS to 10 am 11th December 2009.

Newcastle University Staff and Graduates promote Enterprisers

This Enterprisers course runs from 11th – 15th Jan 2010 in Warwick. If expanding your horizons and tapping into your potential is something you would like to do, go to Enterprisers to find out how to apply.

Inspirational and intensive, the programme helps people with Newcastle University degrees to develop both their personal and professional skills and unlock their entrepreneurial potential.

Please remember that eligibility is restricted to Newcastle University graduates. To see our full eligibility statement go to Enterprisers and scroll down to ‘how do I apply’.

Enterprisers – show employers you mean business

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What ARE you waiting for?

Researchers, We’re writing today to give you another shot at applying for Enterprisers. Due to the success of the October course we’re running another Enterprisers this January from the 11th – 15th Jan 2010. We thought that you guys also might have friends who would benefit from this amazing course. Maybe you know someone who has a Newcastle University degree but is having trouble finding work, or who has been affected by the economic downturn.

Please remember that eligibility is restricted to Newcastle University Graduates (i.e not current students). See our full eligibility statement by scrolling down to ‘how do I apply’.

Please cascade this flyer to your friends and family from Newcastle University and remember they can find out more here or by emailing me at

You can have a nosey at some pictures from the last Enterprisers here

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions or queries or if I can help in any way.

Best wishes,


Researcher Careers and Recession

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Vitae has set up an online discussion space on researcher careers and recession. Specifically commissioned articles have been posted here and you are able to make comments, raise questions and concerns and post useful information that you want to share with others.
The titles of the articles include;
  • Research and recession
  • Challenges and perspectives for early career researchers during the current economic climate
  • Impact of the recession on research and research careers
  • Universities, researchers and the recession
  • Careers and recession – from the perspective of a head of postgraduate career development
  • How do recruiters make shortlisting decisions

Further details and the full articles can be found at