HDR Career Conversations

Supporting research student career development and employability at UOW



Review of careers tool for Humanities and Social Science PhD researchers

Imagine PhD is a one of very few (if any?) career planning tools tailored to Humanities and Social Science PhD researchers and graduates.  I asked Ross Girdler, a first year PhD researcher, with rich previous career experience to see what he thought of it…

Imagine PhD is an online career guidance resource for those Humanities and Social Sciences PhD and post-doc researchers  who have surfaced from their studies long enough to ask the question, “where to next?”. It has been put together by a group of Americans calling themselves the Graduate Career Consortium, an organisation boasting 25 years of providing professional and career development services with you, the aforementioned PhD or post-doc student, in mind.

What you’ll find if you register at www.imaginephd.com is a gaggle of assessment tools designed to measure your work interests, skills and values.  Completing the assessments will give you your “top 5” in each of those categories, together with suggestions about which “job families” are associated with them.  Helpfully, the site also provides some resources to assist in related activities like networking.

Armed with those results and assisted by the sundries, you can then pick your goal and go about building a plan to achieve them (using the SMART template with which you are doubtless familiar). While everything is US-centric, there is enough similarity between our two labour market cultures to render the difference merely slightly annoying.

I undertook the ImaginePhD challenge already equipped with a fairly clear idea of my own direction, a situation gained from advanced age and a background in a related field. The results did not throw up any surprises, which was pleasing, although some of my responses were probably guided by my preconceptions.

Regardless of those preconceptions, I found the exercise valuable and I would recommend taking the time to assess yourself, if only to get you thinking. A word of warning however, the items on the assessments are in the form of a likert scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing “I would always like to do this” (in the case of the interest assessment).  Due to the absolute nature of this statement, I resisted responding with a 5.  Had I done so, I would have received, in my case, a stronger confirmation of my career choices.  My reticence might be a manifestation of the differences between my culture and those of the test designers.  Now, there’s an idea for a future research programme…


Ross Girdler, PhD researcher, School of Health and Society

Ross Girdler is a Rehabilitation Counsellor who has recently commenced a PhD (Integrated) course in the School of Health and Society which he will explore the concept of Occupational Identity and its effect on the return to work of injured Truck Drivers.  He is a serial student whose career plan is to continue to hang around the campus long enough to convince someone to pay him for being here.

Thank you Ross!

Have you used the IMAGINE PhD careers tool or its STEM counterpart My IDP from Science Careers?   We would love to hear your experience below

In addition, at UOW you have access to a range of career planning tools  through Careerhub plus .  The suite of tools include temperament, motivation, decision making, values and resilience among others.  Have a go, reflect on the results – are they accurate?  Do they help in thinking about your career?  Your thoughts are welcome below.

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