HDR Career Conversations

Supporting research student career development and employability at UOW

The post-PhD job dilemma


 Reflections on the UOW HDR Employability event by Annabel Clancy

Annabel Clancy a final year PhD researcher summarised the key messages and advice from our Spring 2017 HDR ‘Shape your Employability’ event which included short presentations from HDR alumni on their career experience.  I think she has provided an excellent and succinct insight into a lively event.  If it sparks your interest, check out the recordings and slides from the event.

As a final year PhD student, the excitement of nearing completion of my research is dimmed slightly by the prospect of the post PhD job search. With the seemingly innocent questions “what are you going do when you finish your PhD?” increasing in frequency in the past few months, attending the HDR employability event seemed like a good place to start. I came out of the day feeling more positive about the job search process. For me, there were 4 main ideas from the day that really stood out:

  • Be proactive

The theme of the day was Be Proactive! Suggestions for how to be proactive in your job search and career development included:  networking; join clubs/groups; get involved: teach, volunteer, mentor; Build your profile: LinkedIn, publish; Increase your knowledge about the job market such as possible industry partners

  • Dedicate time to your future

Part of being proactive, included setting aside time regularly, such as 1 hour a week or fortnight to research jobs or update your resume or whatever it is you need to do to be prepared for job applications so you can apply when they come up.

  • Skills

What skills do I have? Was a question asked frequently throughout the day. We reflected not only on our research skills gained through our degree but also our ‘soft skills’ such as:  Communication, Critical thinking and Organisational

If you don’t know what your skills are- ask someone- friend, family or supervisors!

  • Passion and motivation

For me, the lightning talks by past PhD students really reinforced the importance of passion and motivation in your decision making about possible future jobs- what and why you enjoy what you do?

Overall, what I most enjoyed about the day was meeting likeminded HDR students in the exact same position as myself- feeling unsure about the road ahead but hopefully now a little bit more prepared to answer the question, “what are you going do when you finish your PhD?”

Annabel Clancy photo Annabel Clancy is a PhD candidate in her final year with the University of Wollongong and RPAH Allergy Unit. Her research has focused on improving patient care in the dietary investigation and management of Eosinophilic Oesophagitis. Annabel is currently in the process of planning her post-PhD job search for post doctoral positions.

Are you grappling with the question ‘what are you going to do when you finish your PhD?’ 

Access ‘Know yourself and your options’ resources, attend a workshop, Careers Lounge or individual appointment to discuss your career.

Listen to the lightning talks from the event by logging into Moodle:

  • Kathryn Harden-Thew (Social Sciences PhD graduate – Academic developer, Learning Teaching and the Curriculum UOW)
  • Michael De Santis (Neuroscience PhD student – Executive Search Consultant for Ccentric Group)
  • Emma Rooksby (HASS PhD graduate – Writer and career in government)
  • Alexis Harper (EIS PhD graduate – Previous AMSI intern)
  • Alfred Chidembo (Materials Science PhD Graduate – working in advanced start-up Aquahydrex/ Director social entreprise Aussie Books for Zim)

What has your experience of the post-PhD job search been?

What do you think is important for a successful job-search?  Add your thoughts below


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