We started the Aspiring Professionals Hub to be an information hub for aspiring professionals to share their experiences – achievements, mistakes, successes, lessons learnt - with like-minded individuals. As aspiring professionals ourselves, we are aware of the challenges faced by other aspiring professionals in their career journey. Our aim is to provide a forum where we can engage with our readers and have discussions about Careers & Employability, Education, Entrepreneurship and Skills – related issues.
After several conversations with some PhD students recently, I was struck by one common thread, the lack of awareness or astuteness in planning or developing their own careers and lack of confidence in seeking help. Note, in this article, I use candidate and student interchangeably!
So why this article?
Many PhD students whilst studying for a higher degree approach their careers in a manner no different from undergraduate (UG) students i.e. they typically wait to the end of the PhD and then panic stations which manifests itself in last minute CVs, poor application outcomes and pressure to make career choices. With a PhD comes high expectations and sadly poor post-PhD career outcomes. Thus, it is imperative that PhD candidates understand the importance of the PhD.
As a PhD candidate, you need to view your project as a form of Project Management – think about it, you are given an idea or a project, you investigate challenges around the idea, often work with different stakeholders (sponsors, supervisors, other students, graduate school, community, peers at conferences etc.), proffer solutions and produce a report which you are expected to and usually defend to an expert committee.
Editor’s note – Over a decade ago I was at an interview and got asked the question “how much would you like us to pay you?”. This question came in halfway through a deep dialogue about technical issues and to be honest, I choked. I had come in for one interview and ended up with three (I’ll share another day!). Although I thought, I had been prepared for this question, I had not been as prepared as I should have been. As a result, I felt I didn’t do myself justice. In my conversations with many students, graduates and early-career professionals, it is evident many are unprepared for this question before and after interviews. In today’s article, Mr Paul Mutengu (PM), shares some pointers on what to be aware of with regard negotiating salaries. Enjoy reading – EA
Negotiating salaries are not the easiest of conversations to hold yet so crucial to ensuring we earn what we are worth. Everybody’s experience and approach will differ, but some principles apply, and these tips might help you as a guide – PM
Editor’s note – A big part of a PhD candidate’s identity is often centred around the PhD. One of the first things (sometimes the only thing) we discuss with them is their research. It can sometimes be easy to forget that just like everyone, a PhD is only one aspect of any candidate’s identity. PhD candidates are people first. Friends, partners, siblings, employees, business owners, spouses, parents etc. All stakeholders – PhD candidates, supervisors, institutions etc. need to have this at the centre when we engage, supervise and provide support. Our #MyPhDStory articles provide a platform for postgraduate researchers to share their authentic lived experiences with our readers. In this article, Frances shares her experience of having not one but two children during her PhD and other expected and unexpected events during her PhD journey.
I am writing this article few years after the successful completion of my doctorate studies in Microbiology. I currently work as a public health microbiologist in California, USA. I got married in the first year of my two-year Master’s program in Massachusetts. At the time, my husband was living and working on another continent. That same year, I applied for doctorate studies in Alabama, and I was offered a place. A few months after getting married, I became pregnant. Being pregnant in itself wasn’t a problem as I felt fine, however I experienced some challenges. I experienced a spectrum of emotions; embarrassment, the appearance of being unserious, stigma and later on, the occasional forgetfulness, tiredness and of course, heaviness. At this point, living away from my husband became very challenging and towards the end of the pregnancy, depression struck! a cocktail of loneliness and hormonal changes.
Editor’s note – An important aspect of learning in Higher Education is undertaking research. Research methods and methodology are terms students often come across, many HE institutions run ‘Research Methods’ modules but what do these terms mean? In this article, Dr Nadia Anwar discusses both terms and tackles their use when preparing students for research. Enjoy – AA.
Most of the books on research prefer the titles ending or highlighting the words ‘method’ or ‘methodology’ such as, ‘Introduction to research methods’ or ‘Research methodology’, ‘A primer to research methods’, ‘A handbook of research methodology’, ‘An overview of research methods’, ‘Research methods in social sciences’, ‘Current methodologies in life sciences’, ‘A guide to methodology’ to name a few. Please note this is a general list of prevalent and popular book titles gleaned from hundreds of available books and in no way targets any specific writer or book. These are indeed very helpful resources, carefully designed to assist the readers initiate their research journey with a solid footing and base. Some even taking the responsibility to prepare the researchers in advanced level research.
We are all aspiring professionals seeking that awesome and exciting career. But what does it mean to have a career? Are we thinking about it in the right way?
I see my career as a fair ground ride – at times a carousel with its inevitable ups and downs, but also at times a roller-coaster ride with unexpected turns and maybe even complete changes in direction.
What is a career?
When we are leaving college or university we think of that “dream job”, what career will I have? We’ll enter our first job, which might be a short-term contract and we have to leave, or we might take the decision that it isn’t for us. Therefore, isn’t it more sensible to think of a career not as that perfect, dreamy route to retirement 40 years hence, but that roller-coaster ride where we need to stay alert to negotiate it?
Recently, I attended a panel Q&A discussion at the American Biomedical Research Conference for Minority students (#ABRCMS2017) with speakers from several biopharmaceutical organisations (Biodesix, Genentech and Novartis) sharing their personal experiences as candidates and recruiters and offering advice on how applicants can be standout candidates.
The discussion was aimed at delegates from all aspects of the bio and medical sciences and included undergraduate, postgraduate, post-doctoral candidates and faculty members.
Editor’s note – An important aspect of our mission to ‘equip and empower successful professionals’ is raising awareness of different issues that arise in the world of work. Diversity and inclusivity are increasingly being discussed in different parts of the world across different career disciplines. Many agree that more work is needed to improve representation and ensure our workplaces look more like what we see in the world outside work. As an aspiring professional, awareness of these issues is crucial. In this article, Emmanuel describes the ‘nuts and bolts’ of inclusion and diversity and why more work is needed in this area.
It is hard not to notice the topic of race and gender in the workplace taking centre stage due to recent political decisions in Europe, the UK and of course the US. The impact of politics has and continues to affect the professional and work environment. For example, the uncertainty around #Brexit and job mobility between the EU and the UK, #Charlottesville and the after-effects etc.
What might have gone unnoticed, was that last week was #NationalInclusionWeek in the UK. This is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in the workplace and the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workforce to business growth.
What is #Inclusivity and why is this important?
“Inclusion” in itself as a term is self-explanatory and is “about making sure that people feel valued, respected, listened to and able to challenge. It is about recognising and valuing the differences we each bring to the workplace and creating an environment where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources and can contribute to the organisations success.”