April-Louise tells us how she secured her PhD studentship and gives her tips for success.
The Guardian recently published an article offering advice to students with disabilities starting university. Current students have shared their experiences to help people new to university and many of the tips apply to job hunting and careers as well as uni life so here are our careers-focused additions.
Autumn term's always a busy time for employer events and graduate fairs. Here are some particular highlights with careers events in London aimed at LGBT students and graduates:
We’ve all been through bouts of unemployment in our lives - spending endless hours scrolling through job listings, writing and rewriting your CV while being part of a huge pool of jobseekers.
When you finally get to the job interview stage, it can be tempting to fall into the trap of moulding yourself to what you think the employer wants you to be. You ditch your personality and take the safe route of transforming into a clone candidate. You start replying to questions with what you think they want to hear, rather than saying what you truly feel. Being honest in that all-important job interview is key to ensuring the employer and you are a good match. If you try to conform to a pre-set mould, you’ll soon find yourself frustrated at work later on.
Don’t try to fit the imaginary mould, create your own!
A Day In The Life is a project that documents the experiences of people with mental health difficulties on four days over a year to give a snapshot of what it’s like to be a person with mental health difficulties in England in the 21st Century.
The Institute of Physics has recently published a report with the Royal Astronomical Society, Gazing at the Future. Kate Murray, Careers Consultant to the Graduate School, King’s College London attended the launch and is sharing what she learnt with us on Reach:
The report looks at the experiences of male and female physics and astronomy researchers during their PhDs and their expectations of whether or not they will enter academia after the PhD.
The stats in the report make pretty depressing reading: female doctoral students rate the overall experience of their doctorate lower than their male peers; and the proportion of female doctoral students happy with their doctorate is on average 7% lower than for male doctoral students. Only just over 55% of female doctoral students across all years of study agree that they would make good research scientists (70% of male students overall would agree).
Particularly stark was the finding that 48% of female students, in their final year, envisage that they might have a university role in 3-5 years' time, compared with 65% of male students.
The report suggests reasons behind these stats, including the issue of a lack of role models (thus reinforcing unconscious bias amongst recruiters and setting an unconscious bar on ambition on the part of candidates).
It doesn't seem to me, though, that physics and astronomy are particularly alone in these findings. While efforts such as Athena SWAN and the Equality Charter Mark, as well as initiatives by individual universities such as the fantastic photos of female professors in the Strand building, all help to promote academia as a welcoming place for women, the conversations I have with female researchers across all subjects point to structural issues around the competition for grants and working culture that are off-putting. In fairness, they are often off-putting to men looking for work/life balance too.
What to do? Find resilience, set examples, seek good advice, take opportunities. Find a mentor, find a 'supporter' (someone who actively looks for opportunities for you), and don't be pigeon-holed. Think about protecting your self-esteem and promoting your self-confidence. And retain a love for research.
Common Purpose is a charity that runs leadership development courses and they are currently running a programme in partnership with Santander called Frontrunner for Disabled Students. It's a three-day residential course that takes students behind the scenes of a city to visit an incredible range of organisations and their leaders across different sectors (many of whom will be potential employers). Following the course, students will be able to apply to the Santander sponsored internship scheme.
We've recently added a large number of paid internships in the arts and media sectors aimed at different groups who face barriers to employment.
Researching employers is a great way to help find out which company would be a good fit for you to work in. Finding supportive environments through targeted research can provide a good demonstrator of employers’ attitude to their employees in general and their corporate social responsibility aims.