what next

March 26, 2021, by Joseph Walters

What Next? Searching for a Career

By Joseph George Walters, PhD Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy

As I approach the latter stages of my PhD, my mind turns to what next? This blog describes my initial research into careers outside of academia and the processes that have helped me to define my next steps.

If you are thinking about what next?, the Choosing Your Career page is a great place to start. My initial attitude was one of open-mindedness and I considered any career path possible.

Searching careers

I was soon brought back down to earth as I followed the links to the Prospects Career Planner. There I found a quiz that I could use to discover what careers would suit me. (Note that this quiz considers your personality traits rather than your experience!). Eight of my top 10 matches were related to medical science and laboratory research. Safe to say I was initially unimpressed:

  1. I don’t know what genomics, histocompatibility, or immunogenetics mean.
  2. I am a civil engineer with zero experience (and relatively little interest) in medical science.
  3. One of the reasons for this career search in the first place was to find an alternative route to PhD-like laboratory research.

The results did however make me realise that I do have particular career interests and that I do have a particular set of skills that I want to make the most of.

Finding careers

Scrolling beyond the top 10 career matches I eventually found some relevant careers based on my interests and experience. I found that Prospects’ job profile pages were very informative and helped me develop a better idea about what I would want out of a career. If you find yourself in a similar position to me, it is definitely worth scrolling until you see something that you like. Even if it is 87th on the list.

Career skills

I now had in mind an idea of the types of careers I would want to do based on my experience. At this point, I found the Use My Subject page complementary to my career research together with the Prospects Civil Engineering page. I also turned to magpie, the University of Nottingham’s new learning engine for skill development. These all helped me to identify the gaps in my skills that I would need to fill to better my career chances. Summarised, these gaps were:

  • the use and management of real-world (secondary) data
  • social engagement and communication with external stakeholders, businesses, and so on.

What next?

I decided that a work placement would be the next best step as it could help me to fill these gaps in one comprehensive and valuable experience. Having signed up to Postgraduate Placements Nottingham and Unitemps I was lucky to see a suitable placement soon appear. More on that in my next blog…

There are many ways to find out about your step in your career. I would suggest that my search-find-skills method needs work, but the Careers pages are a good place to start. You can also book an appointment with your Careers team at any stage of your career hunt.

Posted in Choosing Your CareerMagpiePhD StudentsStudent Bloggers