career development

Looking for careers outside academia?

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mentoringCareer Mentoring links postgraduate students to mentors working in industry to help with career planning outside academia. Mentoring gives you the opportunity to work directly with someone who can raise awareness about how your skills can be used in other settings.

Meet Maryam, a Computing Science research student

Maryam is in the final year of her PhD and got involved with Career Mentoring to help identify potential job opportunities outside academia. She told us about her experience on the programme:

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Postgraduate Assessors Wanted £14.22 / hour

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What does it take to pass ?Gain experience of criterion, referenced marking in an academic context that has relevance for your future academic career. Read the rest of this entry »

HASS Solvers Session: Unleash your creativity and enterprise!

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There will be an opportunity to unleash your creativity and enterprise during an Intensive Solvers Session on Tuesday 6th March 2012, 10am until 1.30pm working with award winning playwright, actress and singer-songwriter Yasmine Van Wilt.
PGRs need to be creative, enterprising, resourceful, able to solve complex problems and address challenging issues in innovative ways, build networks and win support. This Intensive Solvers Session seeks to develop your skills as a researcher as well as giving an insight into what is involved in creating a business – helpful information, if in the future you might consider freelancing, setting up a social enterprise or being self employed, based on your creativity, your research, your transferrable skills or your interests.
During the session you will come up with some creative ideas in response to some real life issues and opportunities, and create a hypothetical business to test out your enterprising skills in a friendly and supportive environment.
The problem being solved will be set by Yasmine Van Wilt, playwright, actress and singer-songwriter – and current HASS PhD student. She was a 2001 WordBridge Playwright and a 2007 Soho Young Writer. She has performed internationally for theatre and radio. She is a director and founding member of Immortalis Vox Productions. She recorded her debut album, Ex-Pat Reveries, with National Public Radio (US) in 2007 and went on to tour 40 venues in 4 countries performing music from this and her most recent album, The Big Smoke (2010). She has performed at such venues as Cafe de Paris and the George Square. Her most recent play, We’re Gonna Make You Whole was published by Oberon Books. Yasmine has numerous upcoming theatre, film and music commissions.
The Session is being led by Jane Nolan MBE, an Entrepreneur in Residence with Newcastle University Careers Service, a graduate of the School of English, a successful business woman and a current HASS PhD student. Booking: http://apps.ncl.ac.uk/pgrdp

Solvers Enterprise Workshop with Electrokinetic 5 March 2012 – places available!

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Interested in developing your enterprise and entrepreneurial skills? Have you thought about commercialising your research or starting a business? This Solvers half day workshop will give you the opportunity to build your skills and knowledge, working on the real life scenario of Electrokinetic, an extremely innovative business, which will be outlined by company director David Huntley. Come and work in teams to explore how you would respond to the challenges and opportunities of setting up and developing a business. The session will be facilitated by Jane Nolan MBE Entrepreneur in Residence with Newcastle University Careers Service. Monday 5th March, Research Beehive, Room 2.21 1pm to 5pm. Booking: http://apps.ncl.ac.uk/pgrdp 

Life as a research assistant

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Just to introduce myself, I am currently a Research Assistant at Newcastle University Business School. I joined the world of academia in May 2011, having previously worked in commercial (public sector) research and consultancy for the last 10 years ish. More about that another time, but my experiences may be of interest to others, hence sharing through this blog. 

Part one of my experience has been to quickly get reacquainted with academic literature, learn qualitative data management software (NVivo), and remember how time-consuming and slow the process of transcription is. Part two has been to understand the place of research in the university context, understand my place within it and figure out a new career path.

It’s this last element which has been much on my mind recently, and taken time to understand (not sure I’m there yet). Things I know for sure- 1) PhD is a must if I want to become a lecturer 2) getting work published is vitally important 3) getting work published in the right places is vitally important (3* and 4* journals). Things I still don’t know- 1) how to get PhD funding for a topic that both interests me and interests the funders 2) how to respond to multiple reviewers who may disagree 3) why some journals are considered a higher star rating than others and what difference this really makes.

My current position is managing a short term contract, hourly paid seminar work, and paying the bills. Despite this juggling, things are going well so far! More to follow, if you’re interested. Comments, advice, tough love welcome.

Research Staff – have your say via the CROS survey

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This is your opportunity to tell the university (anonymously) how you feel about your working conditions, career aspirations and career development opportunities. Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) 2011 is designed for research staff and is open for 3 weeks between 09-31 May 2011.  CROS has been continually capturing the views of UK research staff since 2002, and at Newcastle is the main way research staff opinion is gathered. The data helps inform decisions and developments relating to the employment, training and career development of research staff.

It takes about 20 minutes to share your views and experiences of being a researcher and help shape provision to support your development.

Take part now

Results will be analysed by the Research Staff Support Team at Newcastle. Key findings and recommendations will be emailed to you during the summer and reviewed at Faculty and University level. Data is used to help the university shape the provision of support for your development and address major issues. National results help inform the government and research funders on matters of relevance to research staff.

At Newcastle, CROS has lead to improvements for research staff including:

  • Higher profile of research staff needs throughout the University.
  • Improved communication with Research Staff.
  • New offerings in training and development provision, tailored to need.
  • Improvements in Performance and Development Review (PDR).
  • Faculty Induction for Research Staff.
  • Greater access to personal careers guidance and support for longer term career planning.

Take part now

Trouble in Paradise

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I had considered my world to be a sort of paradise – a beautiful loving wife, a smallholding home and two wonderful children. Okay so we didn’t have much money and things weren’t easy, but hey…something will turn up.

Now toddlers and babies are hard work. They’re hard work for two parents. When one of the infants has a disability and one of the parents is absent for a large portion of the week, the work is multiplied to a dangerous level. Dashing back home to West Yorkshire every Wednesday night, only to return to Newcastle very early on Thursday morning hardly brought any relief or sanity back into my wife’s life. No sooner had we got the children bathed, changed, fed and to sleep, then we’d grab something to eat before collapsing into bed for some brief sleep before Charlie called time on that rare pleasure. Domestic jobs became prioritised, the less important ones sidelined for the weekend which in due course was consumed and passed in a blur, only for the whole process to start again on the Monday at 05.00. There was no respite.

As Catherine put it, “Life was hard enough before. What were we thinking? Why would we go and make it ten times harder?” She had a point. Now we had an income but no life in which to spend it.

Additionally Catherine did not like being alone. Secluded 200 year old properties can be idyllic during the day but after dark can take on a more sinister demeanour, especially when you’re the type of person who’s scared of clowns.

On the upside, I had moved off Eddie’s boat and into much drier accommodation. I was now the proud owner of the only Citroen Xsara estate with a toilet, curtains and a 240V electricity system. I was getting a few funny looks as I brushed my teeth into the gutter on Kensington Terrace each morning but overall it was an improvement.

As for the job, well essentially that was great. I was at the forefront of a close team doing something innovative and challenging – risky even. The trouble was that the strain of trying to divide my time between two places was beginning to take its toll and neither of us was happy. The only solution we could see was to rent a house in Newcastle, move up through the week and move back at the weekend. Surely that had to be easier?