Brainstorming as a Group

April 20, 2023, by Leah Sharpe

Connecting Researchers and Employers: Insights from the PGR Networking Brunch

By Yulan Lyu, postgraduate researcher

This year’s Employer Networking Brunch for researchers is scheduled for Tuesday 16 May, which reminds me of the first time I attended this event last year.

As a researcher hoping to work in industry after graduation, I wasn’t quite sure how employers viewed people with PhDs. Therefore, I decided to attend the researcher-only Employer Networking Brunch to see what I could take away from it. I want to share my thoughts on the event and highlight some key themes and takeaways.

Overview of the event

The event featured a handful of representatives from various industries and professions such as consulting, engineering, healthcare, clean energy, and more. The atmosphere was quite chill and refreshments were provided. The representatives were very friendly and happy to answer all questions. I met quite a few researchers from the same faculty, and we decided to go together to talk to the employers. 

Meeting with KPMG

My colleague was interested in KPMG, and we had the opportunity to talk to Patrick, the director of KPMG Nottingham office. The only thing I knew about KPMG before was that they were a tax and accounting firm and one of the “Big Four”. I started out thinking, well, I’ll stay with my friend first and then talk to the engineering firm because that’s my specialty. However, in the middle of their conversation I heard him say that they needed some people with technical expertise to join them, like people who understand engineering, construction, etc. Wait a minute, who is studying civil engineering? Me! I instantly became interested. We had a great conversation, and he provided very useful information. 

After the event, I cannot stop thinking about our conversation and thought it would be a good opportunity. I emailed Patrick to follow up. He was very patient and answered all my questions. He even arranged for me to meet with another one of their consultants and explained to me in detail what they do on a daily basis. I was so impressed and told them I would probably apply when I graduate. It looks like we have already built a good relationship.

Follow up is key

As a PhD student, I found the networking event to be a valuable learning experience. It provided me with insights into the skills and experiences that employers value and the ways in which I can position myself for different career paths. I was particularly struck by the emphasis on transferable skills, which reminded me of the importance of developing skills beyond my specific area of research. I also appreciated the opportunity to connect with employers and professionals in different industries.

However, I would say the most important thing is to try to follow up. Reps talk to a lot of researchers in one day, and it can be easy for them to forget who you are. If you do find it is a good opportunity, go for it and don’t hesitate. We can’t know the future results, but we can do something to change now. 

I can’t wait to meet you all at this year’s event. Hopefully by this time next year, I will have found a position in my dream company. Good luck to everyone!


Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your CareerPhD Students